(Washington, DC) - The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a pro-life legal organization that focuses on constitutional law, today filed its third direct challenge to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the basis that the mandate violates the religious beliefs of business owners. The lawsuit was filed today in U.S. District Court in Springfield, Missouri and contends that the HHS mandate violates constitutional and statutory rights by requiring four Missouri companies to purchase health insurance for employees that includes coverage for abortion-inducing drugs.
The ACLJ represents Paul and Henry Griesedieck, who own and control four companies that are involved, generally, in the business of wholesale scrap metal recycling and manufacturing of recycling machines. The four companies are: Springfield Iron and Metal located in Springfield, Missouri; American Pulverizer and City Welding – both located in St. Louis, Missouri; and Hustler Conveyor, which is located in O’Fallon, Missouri. The companies employ approximately 175 people who are covered by three separate health insurance policies. The owners, who are Evangelical Christians, contend that the HHS mandate requiring coverage for abortion-inducing drugs – including the “morning-after pill” – violates their religious beliefs.
“The HHS mandate is an unprecedented violation of religious liberty,” said Francis Manion, ACLJ Senior Counsel. “Coercing Americans into paying for services that violate their religious beliefs goes against our nation’s best traditions of respect for the religious diversity of our people. It’s also against the law.”
The lawsuit, posted here, argues that the HHS mandate violates the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.
The lawsuit contends that Paul and Henry Griesedieck, the owners of the companies, “are confronted with choosing between complying with its requirements in violation of their religious beliefs, or paying ruinous fines that would have a crippling impact on their ability to survive economically.” The suit argues the mandate forces them to “provide their employees with coverage of those services that Plaintiffs consider immoral on religious grounds.”
Manion added: “Our clients simply want to run their business in a way that doesn't force them to violate their religious beliefs. For the government to require them to choose between abandoning their beliefs or abandoning their business is both unfair and unconstitutional. We will ask the court in this case to uphold our clients' right of religious liberty in the face of this unwarranted abuse of governmental power.”
In the suit, the ACLJ is requesting that the court block implementation of the mandate to prevent it from being enforced when the company renews its health insurance policies in December.
Today’s suit represents the third direct challenge in federal court by the ACLJ to the HHS mandate.
Last week, the ACLJ filed suit on behalf of Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, Inc., a family owned, full-service construction contractor located in Highland, Illinois. The suit contends that the HHS mandate violates the Catholic faith of the company’s owners. And in March, the ACLJ filed a federal suit on behalf of O'Brien Industrial Holdings, LLC (OIH) - a holding company based in St. Louis, Missouri. That case is now before a federal appeals court after a lower court dismissed the suit.
In addition to the direct challenges, the ACLJ has filed numerous amicus briefs backing other legal challenges to the HHS mandate.
Led by ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the ACLJ is based in Washington, D.C.