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Supreme Court of the United States

Southern Nazarene University v. Azar

Court: U.S. Supreme Court

Status: Won

Last Updated: 12/15/2020


What's at stake

  • The freedom to integrate Christian commitment into all aspects of a Christian community.
  • The freedom for religious educational institutions to provide health insurance for their employees and students according to their beliefs.
  • The freedom from the threat of crippling fines for resisting illegal government mandates.


Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Oklahoma Baptist University, and Mid-America Christian University are Christ-centered institutions of higher education in Oklahoma. The government sought to force these universities to compromise their deeply held religious beliefs on the sanctity of human life. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services required the school to suffer extreme penalties if they did not include all FDA-approved contraceptives, including abortion-inducing drugs and devices, in their employee and student health plans.

ADF filed a lawsuit challenging the mandate on behalf of these universities. In November 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court granted review of the case and consolidated it with six other similar cases against the mandate.

In May 2016, the Supreme Court sent the cases back to the lower courts, directing the courts to allow the parties to "arrive at an approach going forward that accommodates petitioners' religious exercise."

In May 2018, the district court enjoined the federal government from enforcing the mandate against the universities, permanently ending this attack on religious freedom. 

Our role in this case

Alliance Defending Freedom represented the universities, defending their freedom to operate according to their deeply held religious beliefs.

Learn More

Legal Documents

{"docs": [{"Court": "TrialCourt", "Title": "Final judgment and order on plaintiffs' motion for permanent injunction and declaratory relief", "FileName": "'-motion-for-permanent-injunction-and-declaratory-relief.pdf", "Date": "5/16/2018 7:58:49 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Opening brief filed with U.S. Supreme Court", "FileName": "", "Date": "10/31/2017 9:16:00 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Supplemental brief submitted to U.S. Supreme Court", "FileName": "", "Date": "10/30/2017 10:26:02 PM"}, {"Court": "TrialCourt", "Title": "Preliminary injunction order", "FileName": "", "Date": "10/31/2017 9:16:00 PM"}, {"Court": "AppellateCourt", "Title": "Supplemental brief", "FileName": "", "Date": "10/31/2017 9:16:00 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Petition for writ of certiorari", "FileName": "", "Date": "10/31/2017 9:16:00 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Petitioners Reply Brief", "FileName": "", "Date": "10/31/2017 9:16:00 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Per Curiam Opinion", "FileName": "", "Date": "10/30/2017 10:26:02 PM"}, {"Court": "TrialCourt", "Title": "Complaint", "FileName": "", "Date": "10/31/2017 9:16:00 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "U.S. Supreme Court order for supplemental briefing", "FileName": "", "Date": "10/30/2017 10:26:02 PM"}, {"Court": "AppellateCourt", "Title": "10th Circuit Opinion", "FileName": "", "Date": "10/31/2017 9:16:00 PM"}]}


Gregory S. Baylor

Senior Counsel

Gregory S. Baylor serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, where he is the director of the Center for Religious Schools and Senior Counsel for Government Affairs.

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