AUSTIN – On Thursday afternoon, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced that Texas is joining several states in challenging the constitutionality of the federal government’s rule compelling religious organizations to provide health coverage that is at odds with their belief structure and values. In his statement, Abbott said, “Obamacare’s latest mandate tramples the First Amendment’s Freedom of Religion and compels people of faith to act contrary to their convictions. The President’s so-called ‘accommodation’ was nothing but a shell game: the mandate still requires religious organizations to subsidize and authorize conduct that conflicts with their religious principles. The very first amendment to our Constitution was intended to protect against this sort of government intrusion into our religious convictions.” RPT Chairman Steve Munisteri applauded General Abbott’s actions and stated, “I applaud General Abbott’s efforts to ensure one of our most fundamental rights, that being the right to freedom of religion, is preserved and protected. Government should not force its views on religious institutions and I am grateful to the Attorney General for standing firm against this unconstitutional intrusion by the Obama administration.” In challenging the new federal rule, Attorney General Abbott joins with numerous other states (Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina) in arguing the following legal principles related to the law’s unconstitutionality. A conflict with the First Amendment’s basic elements of the freedoms of religion, speech and association. A violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by requiring the federal government to troll through an organization’s religious beliefs to determine whether the organization is religious enough to be exempt from the rule’s mandates. That the practical effect will force religious employers and organizations to drop health insurance coverage, which will effect increased enrollment in state Medicaid programs and state-subsidized hospitals and medical centers.