Dobson v. Azar
Description: Dr. James Dobson and his “Family Talk” radio show and ministry, a Christian non-profit organization, challenges the legality and constitutionality of the Obama administration's abortion pill mandate, which requires religious employers to provide insurance coverage for abortifacients, sterilization, and contraception to employees regardless of religious or moral objections. Dobson and Family Talk object specifically to providing coverage for abortion drugs and devices.
Court orders end to abortion-pill mandate for Dr. James Dobson’s ‘Family Talk’ ministry
The Obama-era mandate forces most 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 Trump administration’s Department of Justice abandoned its defense of the flawed mandate.
“Religious organizations have the freedom to peacefully operate according to their beliefs without the threat of punishment by the government. Tuesday’s order fully affirms that freedom and provides the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute with permanent protection from the mandate,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor.
“As with other recent orders in favor of faith-based organizations, Dr. Dobson’s ministry will no longer have 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,” Baylor explained. “The government has many other ways to ensure access to these items without forcing people of faith to violate their deepest convictions.”
“If the government can fine religious ministries out of existence because they want to operate consistently with their faith, there’s no limit to what other freedoms it can take away,” said lead counsel L. Martin Nussbaum of Nussbaum Speir PLLC. “We are pleased with the court’s order and equally pleased that this ministry will no longer have to worry about immense government fines for choosing to live out the very faith it believes in and talks about on the air.”
Dobson and “Family Talk,” a division of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute, specifically objected to providing coverage for abortifacients.
In its permanent injunction order in Dobson v. Azar, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado explained that Dobson and Family Talk “have been successful on the merits of their claim under RFRA [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act]. The plaintiffs face potential irreparable harm in the form of violation of their rights under RFRA unless an injunction is issued.”
The same court issued a permanent injunction for six other Christian ministries in December of last year. Other federal district courts have issued similar orders for Christian organizations in Oklahoma, Indiana, California, Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida. 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.
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.