Local News

Law professor addresses issues of church, state

By From page A4 | February 20, 2014

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Alan Brownstein. Courtesy photo

Alan E. Brownstein, a professor of law and Boochever and Bird Chair for the Study and Teaching of Freedom and Equality at the UC Davis Law School, will lead a discussion Tuesday on the issues of church and state facing our multi-faith society.

The event will begin at 7 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall at the United Methodist Church of Davis, 1620 Anderson Road. Co-sponsored by the Celebration of Abraham and the Church and Society Committee of the Methodist church, it is free and open to the public.

Brownstein will focus his remarks on cases pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, one of which — the Hobby Lobby — could affect the outcome of 46 other legal challenges to the new federal health care mandate requiring contraceptive services.

The Green family, the Christian owners of Hobby Lobby — a large craft-store chain headquartered in Oklahoma — contend that their company is protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act from providing contraceptives to employees. The Greens were among the first for-profit employers to file a legal challenge to the Department of Health and Human Services’ contraception mandate in 2012.

Last year, after Hobby Lobby won a favorable decision from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Justice Department requested that the U.S. Supreme Court review the lower court’s ruling

The Justice Department’s brief argues that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was never intended by Congress to protect profit-making corporate entities engaged in commercial activity. Government lawyers further assert that the federal law “imposes no personal obligations on the Greens; it instead regulates only the corporations they own and the group health plan the corporations sponsor. … RFRA does not entitle them to any exemption for the corporations based on their individual religious belief.”

Enterprise staff

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