A federal judge in Nebraska has dismissed a lawsuit filed by seven states against President Barack Obama's administration over the Affordable Care Act provision that requires most health insurance plans to cover birth control without co-pay, the Lincoln Journal Star reported on Tuesday.
The lawsuit, filed by the Republican attorneys general of Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas, was rejected by U.S. District Judge Warren Urbom of Lincoln, who sided with the U.S. Justice Department.
"The plaintiffs face no direct and immediate harm, and one can only speculate whether the plaintiffs will ever feel any effects from the rule when the temporary enforcement safe harbor terminates," the judge said. "This case clearly involves 'contingent future events that may not occur as anticipated, or indeed may not occur at all,' ... and therefore it is not ripe for review."
The states claimed that the contraception mandate violates religious freedom rights under the First Amendment by only carving out an exemption for those religious organizations that primarily serve and employ people of their own faiths. A Catholic charity, the attorney generals contended, would have to stop serving people of other religions in order to avoid having to pay for its employees' birth control, and then those unserved people would have to turn to the state for assistance.
The Justice Department argued that the states faced no immediate harm because Obama administration had delayed enforcement of the contraception coverage rule until August 2013 to work out accommodations for religious organizations.