Three Christian universities gained allies Monday in their battle against ObamaCare. Among their supporters: 16 state governments.
Those states, along with a handful of other religious rights organizations, filed friend-of-the-court briefs to the Supreme Court supporting Houston Baptist University, East Texas Baptist University, and Westminster Theological Seminary.
Those schools have appealed the Supreme Court to overturn a circuit court ruling that forces them to expand contraception options in their health insurance plans. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the schools’ legal counsel, says the briefs are a major breakthrough.
“This strong show of support for HBU and ETBU (and Westminster Theological Seminary) demonstrates just how important it is that the Supreme Court address the impact of the HHS mandate, particularly on religious groups,” said Diana Verm, Legal Counsel at the Becket Fund, in a statement. “It is especially significant that the 16 state governments are supporting HBU and ETBU at the Supreme Court.”
The case directly challenges the 5th Circuit Court. That ruling said that the schools were forced to offer all 14 types of contraception spelled out in the HHS mandate of ObamaCare within their health insurance plans. The schools only offered 10 types. They say that the mandate violates their religious freedom. According to the statement, all three schools would have to pay millions in IRS fines if they aren’t allowed exemption.
The Becket Fund identified the 16 states to FoxNews.com as: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.
Other organizations that pledged support include the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Christian and Missionary Alliance Foundation, and all 181 members of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities.
“Today’s strong support is an indication that the Court is likely to decide in the upcoming term whether religious ministries, like religious for-profits, will receive protection from the Mandate,” the statement said.
Verm told FoxNews.com that many businesses have been exempted from the mandate, and that all religious institutions should be afforded the same opportunity.
"The Supreme Court has already issued five preliminary orders in favor of religious organizations facing this choice, and we expect it to protect HBU and ETBU as well," she said.
FoxNews.com's Matt Fossen contributed to this report.