A U.S. District judge in Nebraska dismissed a lawsuit brought by seven states in opposition to the Obama administration mandate which denies freedom of religion by requiring religious institutions to cover treatments which violate conscience. Judge Warren Urbom, in throwing out the suit, stated that the plaintiffs “face no direct and immediate harm” from the mandate which will not go into effect for most until August 1, 2013. Urbom swallowed arguments raised by the Department of Justice that the suit was premature because plaintiffs faced no immediate threat, and that states lack the legal grounds to sue because they don’t enjoy First Amendment protections.
On another front, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor/HHS included two provisions to protect conscience rights in the 2013 appropriations bill: (1) the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (HR 361), and (2) the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (HR 1179).
Finally, Governor Romney included in a major Ohio speech the following comments on the HHS mandate: “Religious liberty, our first freedom, of those enumerated in the Bill of Rights…Our president and his administration, said they are going to usurp your religious freedom by demanding that you provide products to your employees — if you’re the Catholic Church — that violate your own conscience….That attack on religious freedom I think is a dangerous and unfortunate precedent. And I know we’re not all Catholic in this room — many others of you are. But I feel that we’re all Catholic today….”