By Tom Strode, Baptist Press
WASHINGTON (BP) – The Southern Baptist Convention’s religious freedom entity has joined the legal battle against the Obama administration’s abortion/contraception mandate in the first case to reach a federal appeals court.
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief filed Oct. 12 that asked a federal appeals court to reverse the dismissal of two lawsuits against the controversial requirement under the 2010 health care law. The brief supports challenges by Wheaton College, an evangelical Christian school in suburban Chicago, and Belmont Abbey College, a Roman Catholic institution in North Carolina, to the mandate that employers provide workers with health insurance that covers contraceptives and abortion-causing drugs.
The ERLC -- and 10 other evangelical organizations -- joined by invitation in a brief filed by Christian Legal Society (CLS) in support of the colleges’ appeal on religious liberty grounds to the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals. More than 35 suits have been brought against the mandate, but the D.C. Circuit is the first appeals court to consider such a challenge. Oral arguments will not be held until after the final briefs are filed in mid-November.