(Washington, DC) - The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a pro-life legal organization that focuses on constitutional law, applauds yesterday’s granting of a preliminary injunction by the U.S. District Court in Springfield, Missouri ordering the federal government not to enforce the HHS “preventive services” mandate against a group of family owned businesses who object to complying with it on religious grounds. Judge Richard Dorr’s order granting the injunction may be found here.
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 150 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 belief that they may not pay for such services.
In granting the injunction, Judge Dorr first noted that a decision in late November by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in another ACLJ case, O’Brien Industrial Holdings, Inc. vs. HHS, et al., was strong precedent in favor of the Griesediecks’ claim. The court went on to find, however, that the government’s argument that any causation between the Griesedieck Companies and the use of the objected-to services would be broken by their employees’ own decisions to use those services was directly contrary to well established Supreme Court precedent. Judge Dorr also observed that the government’s argument that the mandate is necessary to further a compelling governmental interest was contradicted by the presence in the mandate of exemptions covering tens of millions of employees. In Judge Dorr’s words, “these exemptions undermineany compelling interest in applying the preventative coverage mandate to Plaintiffs.”
Francis J. Manion, Senior Counsel for the ACLJ, said of the court’s ruling: “We are very pleased that the Court agreed that theGriesediecks’ right of religious liberty deserves protection while this case moves forward. The mandate is an unprecedented attack on the first right protected in our Bill of Rights. The government simply cannot demonstrate that there is some compelling need to force all religious objectors to conform to its dictates on this issue. That’s not how this country was envisioned by its Founders. They sought to give the widest berth possible to diverse religious views and practices – not to coerce all citizens into obeying whatever secular orthodoxy happens to be in vogue at any given time.”
The Griesediecks’ case is the ACLJ’s 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 Griesedieck lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Springfield, Missouri, contends that the HHS mandate violates constitutional and statutory rights by requiring the four Missouri companies owned by the family to purchase health insurance for employees that includes coverage for abortion-inducing drugs. The ACLJ argues that the HHS mandate violates the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.
The ACLJ is being assisted in this case by Missouri attorney Todd A.Nielsen of Kansas City, MO.
Led by ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the ACLJ is based in Washington, D.C.
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