CASESouthern Nazarene University v. Burwell

Client Story
Southern Nazarene University and Others

“To make Christlike disciples through higher education in Christ-centered community”Southern Nazarene University, mission statement

“[Oklahoma Wesleyan University] is a place of serious study, honest questions, and critical engagement, all in the context of a liberal arts community that honors the Primacy of Jesus Christ, the Priority of Scripture, the Pursuit of Truth, and the Practice of Wisdom.”Oklahoma Wesleyan University, mission statement

“As a Christian liberal arts university, OBU transforms lives by equipping students to pursue academic excellence, integrate faith with all areas of knowledge, engage a diverse world, and live worthy of the high calling of God in Christ.”Oklahoma Baptist University, mission statement

“Mid-America Christian University prepares students through a Wesleyan perspective to create, collaborate, and innovate to solve local and global problems for the glory of God through Jesus Christ and the good of society.”Mid-America Christian University, mission statement

At the heart of four Oklahoma universities - Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Oklahoma Baptist University, and Mid-America Christian University - is one common mission:  to educate and operate in service of Christ.  This mission is entrenched in every aspect of the universities’ respective cultures - including the health insurance benefits they offer students and employees.

 

With the Christian faith as their cornerstone, it comes as no surprise that these universities oppose a federal healthcare mandate that forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide access through their health insurance plans to abortion-inducing drugs and devices under threat of heavy financial penalties through the IRS.

With the help of Alliance Defending Freedom, the universities joined together and filed a lawsuit in September 2013 against the Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies. In December 2013, the district court suspended the enforcement of the abortion-pill mandate against the universities.

In February 2014, the Obama administration appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, which ultimately ruled in the administration’s favor, raising the prospect that the universities would need to choose between violating their religious beliefs and paying massive fines.

Not willing to give up their pursuit to serve God in all areas of school operations, the universities asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up their case. On November 6, 2015 the Court agreed to hear their case and six others brought by religious non-profits challenging the mandate.

Dr.  Everett Piper, President of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, said of their case, “The reason for our lawsuit is simple and clear. Under the guise of Obamacare, the Obama administration claims it has the right to require Oklahoma Wesleyan to include the provision of abortifacient drugs in its employee health insurance package. This is a requirement that we view as immoral and untenable. It is a compromise of our First Amendment rights that we are not willing to accept.”

The case, consolidated with that of fellow ADF client, Geneva College in Pennsylvania and five other similar cases, was argued in March of 2016.

In May 2016, the Supreme Court decided to send the consolidated abortion-pill mandate cases back to the lower courts for reconsideration.


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Summary
Four Christian universities in Oklahoma have 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.
News Releases

US Supreme Court sends nonprofit abortion-pill mandate cases back to lower courts

Sanctity of Life

US Supreme Court sends nonprofit abortion-pill mandate cases back to lower courts

The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel David Cortman.

May 16, 2016 Read More

Non-profits to High Court: Yes, coverage without violating religious liberty is possible

Sanctity of Life

Non-profits to High Court: Yes, coverage without violating religious liberty is possible

"The Supreme Court asked if any way exists to offer contraceptive and abortifacient coverage without making Christian schools, nuns, and priests complicit in providing them. The answer we gave the court today is yes."

Apr 13, 2016 Read More

US Supreme Court completes oral arguments in non-profit abortion-pill mandate cases

Sanctity of Life

US Supreme Court completes oral arguments in non-profit abortion-pill mandate cases

“The government shouldn’t be allowed to force religious organizations to choose between providing life-destroying drugs and devices or paying massive, unsustainable penalties."

Mar 23, 2016 Read More

Christian colleges to Supreme Court Wednesday: Govt can’t mandate abortion pill coverage

Sanctity of Life

Christian colleges to Supreme Court Wednesday: Govt can’t mandate abortion pill coverage

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and representatives of ADF clients will participate in a press conference following oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court in several consolidated cases concerning the Obama administration’s abortion-pill mandate as applied to religious non-profit organizations.

Mar 22, 2016 Read More

Christian colleges to Supreme Court: Govt can’t mandate abortion pill coverage

Sanctity of Life

Christian colleges to Supreme Court: Govt can’t mandate abortion pill coverage

Several religious non-profit organizations filed an opening brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in consolidated lawsuits against the Obama administration’s abortion-pill mandate and its religious non-profit options, all of which force the groups to violate their faith. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent a Christian college and four Christian universities that asked the high court to review appeals court decisions that upheld the mandate in Geneva College v. Burwell and Southern Nazarene University v. Burwell, two of seven cases that the Supreme Courtagreed in November of last year to take up.

Jan 05, 2016 Read More

Supreme Court soon to decide whether to tackle abortion-pill mandate’s sham ‘accommodation’

Sanctity of Life

Supreme Court soon to decide whether to tackle abortion-pill mandate’s sham ‘accommodation’

ADF attorneys represent four Oklahoma Christian universities

Oct 15, 2015 Read More

ADF to Supreme Court: Strike down abortion-pill mandate’s sham ‘accommodation’

Sanctity of Life

ADF to Supreme Court: Strike down abortion-pill mandate’s sham ‘accommodation’

ADF attorneys represent four Okla. Christian universities

Jul 24, 2015 Read More

10th Circuit rules Christian universities must violate their own beliefs

Religious Freedom

10th Circuit rules Christian universities must violate their own beliefs

The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor. 

Jul 14, 2015 Read More

10th Circuit to hear Christian universities’ challenge to abortion-pill mandate

Sanctity of Life

10th Circuit to hear Christian universities’ challenge to abortion-pill mandate

ADF attorney available to media following oral arguments Monday

Dec 05, 2014 Read More

No ‘accommodation’: new abortion-pill mandate scheme still violates religious freedom

Sanctity of Life

No ‘accommodation’: new abortion-pill mandate scheme still violates religious freedom

ADF files supplemental brief to lawsuit against Obama administration

Sep 10, 2014 Read More

Abortion pill mandate stopped for four Okla. universities

Sanctity of Life

Abortion pill mandate stopped for four Okla. universities

ADF official comment

Dec 23, 2013 Read More

Christian universities in Okla. challenge abortion pill mandate

Sanctity of Life

Christian universities in Okla. challenge abortion pill mandate

Alliance Defending Freedom represents four universities in new lawsuit against Obama administration

Sep 20, 2013 Read More
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Documents
https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/geneva-college-v.-burwell/geneva-college-and-southern-nazarene-university---per-curiam-opinion.pdf?sfvrsn=828b6540_4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/geneva-college-v.-burwell/geneva-college-and-southern-nazarene-university---supplemental-brief-submitted-to-u-s-supreme-court.pdf?sfvrsn=d0ba5913_4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/geneva-college-v.-burwell/geneva-college-and-southern-nazarene-university---u-s-supreme-court-order-for-supplemental-briefing.pdf?sfvrsn=4b244305_4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/southern-nazarene-university-v.-burwell/southern-nazarene-university-v-burwell---southern-nazarene-opening-brief-filed-with-u-s-supreme-court.pdf?sfvrsn=5774a458_6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/southern-nazarene-university-v.-burwell/southern-nazarene-university-v-burwell---petitioners-reply-brief.pdf?sfvrsn=2e5c29fd_4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/southern-nazarene-university-v.-burwell/southern-nazarene-university-v-burwell---petition-for-writ-of-certiorari.pdf?sfvrsn=e7f9c3bb_4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/southern-nazarene-university-v.-burwell/southern-nazarene-university-v-burwell---10th-circuit-opinion.pdf?sfvrsn=520e2ecc_4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/southern-nazarene-university-v.-burwell/southern-nazarene-university-v-burwell---supplemental-brief.pdf?sfvrsn=3123417a_4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/southern-nazarene-university-v.-burwell/southern-nazarene-university-v-burwell---preliminary-injunction-order.pdf?sfvrsn=c4a4f59a_4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/southern-nazarene-university-v.-burwell/southern-nazarene-university-v-burwell---complaint.pdf?sfvrsn=b2ae52b7_4
Court Title Date
U.S. Supreme Court
Per Curiam Opinion May 16 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Supplemental brief submitted to U.S. Supreme Court Apr 12 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Supreme Court order for supplemental briefing Mar 29 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Opening brief filed with U.S. Supreme Court Jan 04 2016
U.S. Supreme Court
Petitioners Reply Brief Oct 13 2015
U.S. Supreme Court
Petition for writ of certiorari Jul 24 2015
Appellate Court
10th Circuit Opinion Jul 14 2015
Appellate Court
Supplemental brief Sep 08 2014
Trial Court
Preliminary injunction order Dec 23 2013
Trial Court
Complaint Sep 20 2013

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