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January 7, 2019 9:01 am
This week on Family Policy Matters, NC Family President John Rustin speaks with Greg Baylor, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom and the Director of ADF’s Center for Religious Schools. Baylor unpacks how religious and moral objections to the Obamacare contraceptive mandate have played out judicially under the aid of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and if the Trump administration has done enough to provide protections for these objectors.
It my all federal government going to court to try to convince "government donned that on this is family policymakers a weekly radio show and Comcast from the NC family designed to better inform listeners about issues of the day and encourage you to be voices of persuasion for family values, and now your host NC family Pres. John Rustin thank you for joining us today for family policy matters. The North Toronto family policy Council's weekly radio show and podcast. When we speak about family values and consider the intersection of topics like the sanctity of human life and religious liberty in our current culture. Few issues come to mind more quickly than the federal affordable care act also known as Obama care.
The mission of cases like Hobby lobby and Little sisters of the poor conjure up recent recollections of intense legal battles over the Obama care, contraceptive mandate, which pitted government mandated coverage of contraceptive sterilization and abortion inducing drugs against employers and nonprofit ministries that are simply trying to live out their lives and run their businesses and organizations in accordance with their deeply held religious beliefs.
While the trump administration recently implemented some significant positive changes to this Obama era mandate in the federal courts continue to rule in favor of people of faith and religious employers most recent such opinion came in mid December when a Federal District Ct. in Colorado issued a ruling protecting six faith-based organizations from a contraceptive mandate in Obama care today were pleased to be joined by Greg Baylor, who serves as senior counsel with alliance defending freedom and is also the director of ADF center for religious schools. ADF was actually one of the organizations to receive relief under this recent court in the case of Association of Christian schools International versus Azor Greg walking the family policy matters.
It's great to have you on the show started the pleasure to be with you. Will Greg refresh our memories a bit if you will about the history of the Obama care, contraceptive mandate, and the impact on it by cases like Hobby lobby.
Little sisters of the poor and others. Surely they log back into heaven, and 10, when Congress have Pres. Obama outlined the affordable care act. About a year later, the Department of Health and Human Services interpreted a provision requiring coverage of women's preventive services to require all FDA approved contraceptive will that was extremely problematic.
First of all, there are many Roman Catholic organizations and employers that do not wish to facilitate access to drugs and devices that they believe to be sinful and second, there were a lot of evangelical Protestant organizations that don't object to most of the birth-control items that are required by the mandate but do object to the one hand, and to act abortifacient lease so that with the first wave of litigation that was filed by for-profit businesses customarily owned by by Christian people Hobby lobby that case made it all the way to the Supreme Court and Hobby lobby one. What happened next was for the administration trying to do something for the religious nonprofit that objected to the mandate. Well, they finally did it was unsatisfactory so you had a number of cases that were filed saying hey, this alternative mechanism that you've given not to comply with the mandate still violates our conscience. In the case that your you're talking about. That was just decided last week is the end of one of those cases where a Federal District Court in Colorado said that the six religious organizations do not have to comply with the HHS mandate that background that's very helpful and we definitely want to get into talking more specifically about this recent case, but in the meantime, what changes has the trump administration recently made to the implementation of the contraceptive mandate through rulemaking though the Obama administration when it issued its contraceptive mandated.
There was a religious exemption in their the problem lies.
It was extraordinarily narrow, basically limited to houses of worship and denomination. The trump administration has fixed that problem. The religious exemption is it's really available to almost anyone who has an objection to the mandate. The second thing that the current administration did was to create protection for organizations that object nonreligious grounds on moral grounds March for life March for life is not a religious organization but can you imagine being forced to put abortifacient drugs and devices in your employee health plan, they were astonished by that. But that was below, so they filed a lawsuit.
They got relief. The trump administration said were to write a rule to protect these kinds of objectors as well. While in it may be a little bit confusing to her listeners. As far as the timeframe of all of these lawsuits in administrative actions and things of that nature, but they all seem to be very important steps in the process of making sure that the religious liberties of our people of faith and people who run businesses and nonprofits that are believing organizations are leaving individuals working at that organizations have their religious liberties protected. Greg, how did this recent case Association of Christian schools International the Azor involving the six religious organizations.
How does that case differ from similar previous cases and why was it necessary, it really doesn't differ all that much from a number of cases that have been resolved. Really, the trump administration came into office.
These six entities were not eligible for the very narrow Obama administration religious exemption. They were eligible for something. The Obama administration called the so-called accommodation, which was purported to be a resolution to the marl objection that the six organizations had to complying with the mandate. They still felt that that they were complicit in sinful acts, and therefore they filed their lawsuit. What had happened was the case had to be brought to a close one might say, what about these new trump administration, will they expand the exemption. Isn't that good enough for two reasons, what the rules aren't good enough.
First, there being challenged by states like California and New York, and Pennsylvania and Maryland and Delaware, Massachusetts, and some judges have already entered injunctions against the new rules. The second thing is the rule, even if it's allowed to go into effect. The next administration, particularly if it's of a different party could change it back. So what these plaintiffs need it with the court saying that the mandate as applied to them, cannot be applied to them. Legally, it violates the religious freedom restoration act. So in getting that protection they have protection permanently and it really doesn't matter to them that much.
What happens with these new rules, whether they going to affect whether their joints that they needed permanent protection and that's what they got from the listening selling sign-up to receive and to listen to the show online.
Namely, 19 Greg is as it relates to this case is the start of the end of the line for this case. Has it been resolved or is there the possibility of an appeal that could overturn or prolong the final decision.
I would really have come to a conclusion that the Department of Justice actually changed its mind about the legal validity of imposing the mandate on folks like these six religious organizations, the court that that which came after the 2016 election so when we went into court on behalf of our client and asked the judge to enter a final permanent injunction because the mandate violated religious freedom. The Department of Justice that what we agreed that it violates religious freedom and therefore they didn't resist entry of this injunction and of course they're not going to appeal that would be inconsistent with what they said in the case and in what they're saying when they go forward with these new rules that expand the exemptions thankfully were at the end of this long journey regulations on that now. I do know that one of the arenas under which laws under which the parties in this case were seeking relief was under the federal religious freedom restoration act or reference. What is the relationship and legal interplay between the healthcare laws contraceptive mandate and the long-established religious freedom restoration act.
The amazing thing about the religious freedom restoration act is that it applies to all federal laws and regulations. So if you're someone who's religious and you think that something the federal government is doing to you burdens your religious exercise. You can go to court and try to convince the judge to tell the federal government to stop imposing that burden on you and that's exactly what's been happening in the HHS contraceptive mandate cases our clients like Taylor University in Indiana Wesley and settler you are forcing us to give our own people access to drugs and devices that can and do destroy human life that relates our religious beliefs and under this religious freedom restoration act. The judge then turns the federal government says well what's your rationale for doing this to have a compelling interest in the words of the statute and is there some other way you might be able to achieve your objective federal government well. The court held in our case and and a bunch of others that yes, this mandate did burden their religious exercise. It did force them to do something that violated their institutional consciences, and that there wasn't a sufficient rationale that wasn't a compelling interest that supported it think it's important for listeners to understand the risk does not guarantee an outcome. It simply provides an opportunity to have your day in court, and if you do feel as you described it, your religious liberties are being infringed upon by a federal law or regulation, then you can seek relief in the court but it doesn't guarantee an outcome. Fortunately, with respect to this a contraceptive mandate and Obama care.
We've seen a lot of relief granted under riverfront and under other legal constructs so that religious people and people of faith have had their liberties protected Greg in this account of your perspective on the lay of the legal landscape for where things stand now, in relation to the overall contraceptive mandate and Obama care.
Do you still have concerns about its application and implementation. Considering these recent rulings and actions by the Obama administration works. Do you think that most of the needed exemptions and protections are now in place.
Well, I don't think there's a lot of work to be done thinking about this decision that was just handed down by the court in Colorado.
It doesn't protect everyone. It only provides permanent protection to the six organizations filed a lawsuit. All of the other divisions that are coming down and resolving challenges to the HHS mandate. They only protect the people who filed the lawsuit. What provides protection for assertive everyone else. Are these rules that the trump administration has put forth will now the final versions of the rules are coming out they were published shortly ago. No go into effect on January 14 and all the same folks that challenged the good trump interim finals that were issued in October 2017 are now saying that they will challenged these new rules.
The final versions of these new rules so it turns out the wrong way everyone else who didn't serve as a plaintiff in a lawsuit get an injunction is once again exposed to the HHS contraceptive mandate supposed that the rules are upheld. Again, you still have the problem of a future administration revising rescinding repealing those rules and perhaps returning to the regime that we had under the Obama administration again. The folks that got injunctions from courts there protected permanently. But the state of protection for other people is very much in play and probably will sleep will be for years to come because of that, Greg were so happy that the lots. Defending freedom exists and is really seeking to protect the religious liberties and other rights of individuals across the nation before we go, tell us, our listeners can learn more about your great work and the good work and alliance defending freedom. Well, I would just encourage them to visit our email@example.com and there you can learn about the work that were engaged in learning about how we enter into alliances with a large number of organizations across the country, including yours, John. And there are so inclined to support our work will certainly want to encourage your listeners to do just that support alliance they do excellent work with Greg Mailer, thank you so much for being with us on family policy matters and for your great work defending religious liberties of individuals across this country listening to family policy radio show and Comcast from see family to listen to the show online resources that will help you be a voice of persuasion in your community.
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