|Abbot Thomas joins amicus curiae brief in defense of religious liberty|
Abbot Thomas has joined a “friend-of-the-court” brief filed in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of 67 Catholic theologians and ethicists. The brief urges the Supreme Court to overturn the federal “preventive services” mandate that requires religiously objecting employers to provide health insurance coverage for abortifacient drugs, contraception, and sterilization (commonly called the “HHS mandate”). Abbot Thomas’s brief argues that this mandate imposes a substantial burden on the religious freedom of Catholic and other objecting employers by forcing them to become complicit in actions forbidden by their faith, including chemical abortions.
The HHS mandate requires employers to include in their employee health care plans all drugs and devices, including abortifacients, approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as contraceptives, as well as elective sterilization. The mandate provides no exemption for religious employers operating for-profit businesses who object to providing such coverage on religious grounds. Abbot Thomas’s friend-of-the-court brief explains to the Court that principles of Catholic moral theology strongly support the claims of religious employers that their faith forbids them to pay for such objectionable health insurance coverage.
Abbot Thomas felt it important to make a public statement on this issue, because these cases present one of the greatest challenges to religious liberty in modern American history. The outcome of the Supreme Court’s current case will also be very influential upon future decisions, such as pending cases in which Catholic institutions are challenging the so-called “accommodation” to the HHS mandate for religious non-profit organizations. Decisions on the latter cases may be relevant for Saint Louis Abbey and Saint Louis Priory School. Abbot Thomas hopes that the Catholic theologian’s brief will make an important contribution to the Supreme Court’s consideration of this issue.
The idea for this amicus brief emerged from discussions between Abbot Thomas and Priory alumnus John Sauer ’93, who served as counsel of record for the brief. Earlier versions of the brief were filed in lower federal courts. At first, Abbot Thomas was the sole theologian signed onto the brief, but the brief soon gathered widespread support from Catholic scholars from across the United States.
Abbot Thomas expresses sincere gratitude both to Mr. Sauer and to the many Catholic theologians and ethicists who offered their support for this important project. He also asks all members of the Saint Louis Abbey-Saint Louis Priory School-Saint Anselm Parish Family to pray earnestly that the Supreme Court will restore religious freedom in this matter.