Rutledge: Government Must Protect, Not Curtail, Beliefs of Religious Nonprofits

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January 21, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has joined with 20 states to file an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that the contraceptive mandate contained in the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, infringes upon the right of religious nonprofits. The brief was filed in Zubik v. Burwell, which has been consolidated with six other cases at the Court.

“Religious freedom was deeply rooted in and served as a guiding force for our nation’s founding,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Yet some would prefer to ignore the sincerely-held religious beliefs of nonprofits and force them to act inconsistently with those beliefs. Federal law does not allow this, but instead guarantees them the freedom to exercise their religious beliefs. Many nonprofits throughout Arkansas and across the country provide care and hope to countless individuals and communities. As Attorney General, I will not sit idly by while a political agenda from Washington D.C. assaults the faith and convictions of religious nonprofits.”

Led by Texas, Arkansas joined along with Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

In the brief, the attorneys general argue, “the states’ commitment to guarding the dignity of religious convictions is reflected in the states’ own laws. Each State constitution protects religious liberty, and some include protections that go beyond rights recognized under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. And twenty states statutorily protect religious liberty from government intrusion, as does the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The amici states thus have a substantial interest in protecting religious exercise from governmental intrusion. That interest is even more acute when religious practice is burdened not by congressional enactments, but by federal executive directives that do not pursue their ends in the manner least restrictive of religious liberty.”

About Attorney General Leslie Rutledge

Leslie Carol Rutledge is the 56th Attorney General of Arkansas. Elected on Nov. 4, 2014, she is the first woman and first Republican in Arkansas history to be elected to the office.

Rutledge, a native of Batesville, Arkansas, is a graduate of Southside High School, the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. She began her legal career as Clerk for Arkansas Court of Appeals Judge Josephine Hart, now Associate Justice on the Arkansas Supreme Court. She was appointed Deputy Counsel for Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and later served as Legal Counsel on the Mike Huckabee for President Campaign. She served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Lonoke County and in subsequent service as Attorney for the State of Arkansas’s Division of Children and Family Services. She also served as Deputy Counsel at the National Republican Congressional Committee before joining the Republican National Committee as Counsel. Prior to her election as Attorney General, she founded and practiced law at The Rutledge Firm, PLLC. Rutledge lives in Little Rock.