Yesterday, U.S. Federal District Court Judge Warren Urbom dismissed a case brought by Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning arguing that the Health and Human Services mandate requiring religious employers to provide abortion-related services violated their First Amendment right of religious freedom.
Urbom, a Nixon nominee who presided over the 1974 Wounded Knee criminal trials, ruled that neither the state of Nebraska, nor the six states—Texas, South Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, and Oklahoma—and three Catholic organizations—Catholic Social Services, Pius X High School, and the Catholic Mutual Relief Society of America—that joined in the lawsuit had “standing” to bring the case.
According to the Lincoln Journal Star (Nebraska):
Urbom sided with the U.S. Justice Department, which argued that the plaintiffs did not show that they faced the immediate threat of having to offer the coverage, because the federal government delayed enforcement of the rule until August 2013. That so-called “safe harbor” provision is to allow accommodations to be worked out for some religious groups...
Urbom said the plaintiffs “speculate that religious organization employers who do continue to provide health coverage to their employees will attempt to qualify for the rule’s religious employer exemption by ceasing to provide charitable services to persons who do not share the organizations’ religious views, and this in turn will cause those unserved persons to rely on state resources.
“Both alternatives allege hypothetical injuries to the states based on conjecture about the reactions of third parties, and the complaint simply does not allege facts showing that it is plausible — and not merely possible — that those reactions ‘have been or will be made’ in the manner that the plaintiffs suggest,” Urbom said.
LifeNews.com reported that the plaintiffs vigorously objected to Urbom's ruling:
“This violation of the [First] Amendment is a threat to every American, regardless of religious faith,” Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said in a news release. “We will not stand idly by while our constitutionally guaranteed liberties are discarded by an administration that has sworn to uphold them.”
The lawsuit also alleges the “practical effect” of the mandate “will force religious employers to drop health insurance coverage,” in order to avoid violating their religious beliefs.
Neither outlet has yet reported whether the case's plaintiffs plan to appeal the ruling to a higher court.
Michael Patrick Leahy is a Breitbart News contributor, Editor of Broadside Books’ Voices of the Tea Party e-book series, and author of Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement.