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Pam Bondi, 11 other AGs, ready to 'vigorously oppose' Obama contraception rule in court

Must have misssed this in the ole inbox, but Florida's attorney general, Pam Bondi, is ready to join 12 other colleagues to sue President Obama's administration over its contraception mandate-- this after challenging all of the Affordable Care Act. Here's a text of a letter Bondi and others, dated Feb. 10, to Kathleen Sebelius (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), Timothy Geithner (Secretary U.S. Department of the Treasury) and Hilda Solis (Secretary U.S. Department of Labor):

Dear Secretaries Sebelius, Geithner, and Solis:

As Attorneys General of our respective states, we are writing to express our strong opposition to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate requiring religious employers that provide health insurance coverage to their employees to include coverage for contraceptives, sterilization, and related services. Should this unconstitutional mandate be promulgated, we are prepared to vigorously oppose it in court.

The proposed regulations would compel religious affiliated organizations, hospitals, universities, and social service entities to subsidize contraceptive products and services which clearly violate their religious beliefs. We are deeply troubled by the unprecedented coercion of organizations and individuals to act contrary to their religious beliefs. The only viable alternative for these employers is to penalize their employees by ceasing the provision of health insurance altogether. The choice for such organizations essentially becomes: provide and subsidize activity in contravention with core religious beliefs, eliminate employer-provided health coverage, or withdraw from public ministry.

The proposed mandate provides an insufficiently narrow exemption which would fail to include religious affiliated organizations who do not “primarily employ persons who share their religious tenets” and do not have “the inculcation of religious values” as their primary operational purpose. Such an exemption ignores the fact that many such organizations only exist and provide public ministry pursuant to a duty and sense of purpose derived from their religious beliefs. To obtain the exemption, a religious organization would have to subject itself to the equivalent of a government “religious audit” to determine whether the organization’s activities are sufficiently religious to be excluded from the regulation’s requirements. Even then, a great number of entities previously exempt from government regulations that run contrary to their religious beliefs would fail to qualify.

Not only is the proposed contraceptive coverage mandate for religious employers bad policy, it is unconstitutional. It conflicts with the most basic elements of the freedoms of religion, speech, and association, as provided under the First Amendment. It would compel religious organizations to act, subsidize products, and affirmatively promote a message in contravention with their religious principles, with the sole alternative being to cease activities of incalculable value to their employees, constituents, and, indeed, society as a whole.

We strongly oppose the unconstitutional approach taken by the proposed contraceptive coverage mandate. We believe it represents an impermissible violation of the Constitution’s First Amendment virtually unparalleled in American history.

Accordingly, we urge you in the strongest way possible to refrain from promulgating the proposed regulations.

Sincerely, 

Jon Bruning, Attorney General of Nebraska

Greg Abbott, Attorney General of Texas

Alan Wilson, Attorney General of South Carolina

Luther Strange, Attorney General of Alabama

Pam Bondi, Attorney General of Florida

James Caldwell, Attorney General of Louisiana

William Schneide, Attorney General of Maine

Wayne Stenehjem, Attorney General of North Dakota

Mike DeWine, Attorney General of Ohio

Scott Pruitt, Attorney General of Oklahoma

Marty J. Jackley, Attorney General of South Dakota

John W. Suthers, Attorney General of Colorado

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