Louisiana College v. Sebelius
Description: Louisiana College – a private, Baptist college – filed suit in federal court to challenge the Obama administration's abortion-pill mandate. The mandate 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 by the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies if the mandate’s requirements aren’t met.
La. decision brings ADF victories against abortion-pill mandate to 20 wins, 0 losses
In its ruling against the mandate in Louisiana College v. Sebelius, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, Alexandria Division, called the government’s claimed attempt at an accommodation for non-profit religious organizations like Louisiana College “a subterfuge.”
“All Americans should oppose unjust laws that force people – under threat of punishment – to give up their freedom to live and work according to their beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “In the case of Louisiana College, it simply wants to continue to operate as a Christian college as it has since its founding in 1906. The court did the right thing in striking down the mandate as it applies to the school’s health insurance coverage and in identifying the flaws in the administration’s so-called ‘accommodation’ of religious organizations, which, as we’ve said all along, is no accommodation at all.”
The “accommodation,” recently rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court itself in an Illinois lawsuit, requires private colleges to “self-certify” their compliance with the mandate by filling out a form that authorizes their insurance companies to cover objectionable items and services.
“In this case, we would go so far as to say that self-certification is vastly more than a mere ‘administrative’ act,” the district court wrote in its opinion Wednesday. “Rather the challenged regulations and their application trigger a subterfuge requiring indirect action the regulations could not do if they applied to Plaintiff directly.”
“The cure is actually worse than the disease,” Theriot explained. “It’s bad enough when the government forces you to do something objectionable; it’s worse when the government forces you to instruct someone else to do something objectionable.”
“The administration’s narrow gesture does nothing to protect faith-based employers from the mandate, which the court rightly found to violate federal law,” said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman. “Whether we are talking about non-profit Christian organizations like Louisiana College or family-owned businesses like Conestoga Wood Specialties, the government has no business putting religious freedom on the negotiating table, or picking and choosing who is allowed to exercise faith and how.”
- Pronunciation guide: Theriot (TAIR’-ee-oh)
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Kevin Theriot serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, where he is a key member of the Center for Life Team working to defend pro-life laws and speech and protect medical rights of conscience. He has litigated cases in the areas of religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family. Theriot is admitted to the bar in eight states, the U.S. Supreme Court, and numerous other federal courts of appeal and district courts. Theriot received his law degree from Vanderbilt University and has been litigating First Amendment issues since 1993.
David A. Cortman serves as senior counsel and vice president of U.S. litigation with Alliance Defending Freedom. He has been practicing law since 1996, and currently supervises a team of over 40 attorneys and legal staff who specialize in constitutional law, focusing on religious freedom, sanctity of life, and marriage and family. Cortman has litigated hundreds of constitutional law cases including two victories at the U.S. Supreme Court. In Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, he secured a 7-2 victory that overturned Missouri’s denial of a religious school’s participation in a state funding program. Cortman also argued Reed v. Town of Gilbert, securing a 9-0 ruling that prohibits the government from discriminating against religious speech. A member of the bar in Georgia, Florida, Arizona, and the District of Columbia, he is also admitted to practice in over two dozen federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. Cortman obtained his J.D. magna cum laude from Regent University School of Law.