Skip to main content

Ave Maria School of Law v. Azar

Description:  Ave Maria School of Law in Florida filed suit against the Obama administration’s mandate that forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy penalties.

Wednesday, Jul 11, 2018
FORT MYERS, Fla. – A federal district court issued an order Wednesday that permanently prevents the federal government from enforcing the Obamacare abortion-pill mandate against a Catholic law school in Florida represented by Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys. The order also declares that the mandate violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The Obama-era mandate forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception through their health plans under threat of heavy penalties. The Department of Justice, under the Trump administration, abandoned its defense of the flawed mandate, which the Department of Health and Human Services implemented during the previous administration.

“Religious organizations have the freedom to peacefully operate according to their beliefs without the threat of punishment by the government. Wednesday’s order fully affirms that freedom and provides permanent protection from the mandate,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor.

“Ave Maria School of Law no longer has to fear being forced to pay fines for simply abiding by the Christian beliefs that it teaches and espouses, and it is no longer required to fill out forms authorizing coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization,” Baylor explained. “The government has many other ways to ensure access to these items without forcing people of faith to violate their deepest convictions.”

“Ave Maria has demonstrated, and Defendants [with the federal government] concede, that the promulgation and enforcement of the contraceptive mandate against Ave Maria through any means that require Ave Maria to provide or facilitate the provision of coverage for contraceptive goods or services to which it holds sincere religious objections violate and would violate Ave Maria’s rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act…,” the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Ft. Myers Division, wrote in its order in Ave Maria School of Law v. Azar, adding that the “public interest in the vindication of religious freedom favors the entry of an injunction.”

Other federal district courts have issued similar orders in recent weeks for Christian colleges and universities in Oklahoma, Indiana, California, Iowa, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. ADF attorneys and allied attorneys continue to litigate numerous other lawsuits against the mandate.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
# # # | Ref. 37243

Legal Documents

Preliminary injunction order: Ave Maria School of Law v. Burwell
Complaint: Ave Maria School of Law v. Sebelius

Related Resources

ABOUT Gregory S. Baylor

Gregory S. Baylor serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, where he is the director of the Center for Religious Schools and senior counsel for government affairs. Since joining ADF in 2009, Baylor has focused on defending and advancing the religious freedom of faith-based educational institutions through advice, education, legislative and public advocacy, and representation in disputes. He has testified about religious liberty issues three times before congressional committees. Greg earned his Juris Doctor in 1990 from Duke University School of Law, where he graduated Order of the Coif, with high honors, and served on the editorial board of the Duke Law Journal. He received his bachelor’s degree in Honors English in 1987 from Dartmouth College. Following graduation from law school, he served as law clerk to the Hon. Jerry E. Smith on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. He practiced labor and employment law at two large international law firms for three years before joining the staff of Christian Legal Society’s Center for Law and Religious Freedom, where he served for 15 years prior to joining ADF.