Georgia backs religious groups in federal birth control case

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens said he has joined with 19 other states in filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of religious organizations that do not want to provide birth control access as required under the Affordable Care Act.

Arguments before the court are expected this spring, and involve seven similar cases combined under the case of Zubik v. Burwell. The states joining the brief include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The religious groups in the case have cited the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which says government has to show a compelling interest for why its policy should override the religious beliefs of an individual or group.

Efforts in Georgia to adopt a similar "religious freedom" measure on the state-level have met with controversy, with opponents concerned it could allow business owners to cite religious beliefs to deny people service — and, in particular, gays and lesbians.