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Humanists to Supreme Court: Women’s Health Takes Priority Over Employers’ Religion

For Immediate Release


Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, merrillmiller@americanhumanist.org

(Washington, DC, March 22, 2016)—As the United States Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments in the case Zubik v. Burwell on Wednesday, March 23, the American Humanist Association (AHA) urges the Court to uphold the Affordable Care Act and prioritize women’s health over employers’ religious objections.

The AHA’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center’s amicus curiae brief argues that because the preamble of our Constitution sets forth its purpose in service of the general welfare, the law requires that the health and well-being of the people supersedes religious objections that undermine the general welfare. The brief goes on to explain that requiring employers to provide employees access to contraceptives does not void the employer’s religious beliefs or free exercise. In order to maintain the separation of church and state as laid out in the Constitution, the Supreme Court should continue to require religious nonprofit organizations to certify their religious objections so that health insurers can provide women with contraceptives.

Gordon Gamm, an attorney and member of the American Humanist Association who authored the brief, explained, “This brief presents six arguments that are different from the thirty-plus other amicus briefs presented to the court. It brings the unique perspective of humanism and the value of a secular analysis of constitutional questions to the attention of the court. The brief provides a summary of the original ideas that gave rise to the freedom of religion clause in the First Amendment. Therefore, I hope that the judges read this brief and consider the Pandora's box opened up by permitting any religious idea to obstruct laws enacted to serve the health, security, and welfare of our nation.”

“The Supreme Court has a responsibility to stand up for all Americans by ensuring access to contraceptives as essential to comprehensive health care insurance, not provide special rights to the religious that supersede the public interest,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. "Allowing religious people and institutions the ability to deny the rights of others makes a mockery of religious liberty.”

To further promote women’s reproductive rights, members and staff of the American Humanist Association are attending a Wednesday morning rally outside the Supreme Court building. Monica Miller, senior counsel for the American Humanist Association, will also be answering questions about the oral arguments on Wednesday at @americnhumanist on Twitter from 1:00-2:00pm ET. The American Humanist Association has taken out an ad to run tomorrow in the Chicago Tribune that explains the humanist movement’s support for abortion and contraception access. It also published “2016 Humanism,” an article by American Humanist Association President Rebecca Hale and Vice President Jennifer Kalmanson that asserts humanism’s commitment to women’s rights and social justice.

A copy of the brief can be viewed here.

Humanists Stand for Reproductive Rights


Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.