Still a long way to go to protect religious freedom, but this new ruling will set a precedent in courts.
(Washington, DC)—[CBN News] A federal judge ruled Thursday that forcing insurers to include birth control coverage despite their conflicting religious convictions is unconstitutional. (Screengrab via CBN News)
The case addresses a section of Obamacare that requires insurers to pay for birth control.
Missouri Sen. Paul Wieland, R-Imperial, and his wife filed a lawsuit arguing that being forced to pay for birth control coverage violates their Catholic faith. They cited the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which says the federal government cannot "substantially burden" religious rights unless the law is the least restrictive means to further a compelling government interest.
U.S. District Judge Jean C. Hamilton agreed, saying the federal government cannot legally compel Wieland and his wife to pay for birth control coverage.
"We're excited," Wieland told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "We know the government probably won't agree, but this is a victory along the way. The government is trying to force me to buy a product that I consider morally offensive."
Timothy Belz, one of Wieland's lawyers, says the ruling has "larger implications" because it could set a standard for future cases.
"It has precedential value," Belz said. "Other families can say, 'Look, give me a contraceptive-free policy or I will go to court with the Wieland opinion."