July/August 2018 Church & State Magazine - July/August 2018

AU Files Legal Brief In California Case Challenging Trump’s Birth Control Rules

  Liz Hayes

Americans United on May 29 urged a federal appeals court to affirm a preliminary injunction that blocks the Trump administration’s rules that would allow employers and universities to cite religious or moral objections as justification to deny employees and students insurance coverage for contraceptives.

Joined by a dozen religious and civil-rights organizations, AU filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the case California v. Azar, one of two federal lawsuits that resulted in nationwide injunctions last December that blocked the Trump rules from going into effect.

Americans United and allies explained that the administration’s rules are unconstitutional because they not only show government preference for certain religious beliefs, but allow those beliefs to be used to harm others.

“The Trump administration’s new rules have two major problems: They hurt women and they misuse religious freedom in the process,” said Rachel Laser, AU’s president and CEO. “Religious-freedom laws should protect people, not harm them. These rules cannot be squared with the Constitution or our core values.”

Writing on AU’s “Wall of Separation” blog, AU attorney Alison Tanner explained: “Our message to the court is simple: Religious freedom is a fundamental American value, and so is a woman’s right to make her own decisions about health care. Taken together, these principles mean that no employer or university can use religion to dictate its employees’ or students’ health care choices.”

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