Southern Nazarene University v. Azar
Description: Four Christian universities in Oklahoma 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. Read more >>
Court orders end to abortion-pill mandate for Oklahoma Christian universities
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. Today’s order fully affirms that freedom and provides permanent protection from the mandate,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor.
“These universities no longer have to fear being forced to pay fines for simply abiding by the Christian beliefs they teach and espouse, and they are 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 drugs without forcing people of faith to violate their deepest convictions.”
ADF attorneys represent Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Oklahoma Baptist University, and Mid-America Christian University, all of which specifically object to providing abortifacients.
“Plaintiffs have demonstrated, and Defendants now concede, that requiring Plaintiffs to comply with [the HHS mandate], to the extent such compliance contradict[s] Plaintiffs’ religious beliefs, violates their rights protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act…,” the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma wrote in its order in Southern Nazarene University v. Azar, adding that “the public interest in the vindication of religious freedom favors the entry of an injunction and declaratory judgment.”
In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court sent the case, consolidated with several other similar cases, back to the lower courts for potential resolution by the parties. 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.