The American Center for Law & Justice (“ACLJ”), along with seventy-nine Members of Congress, has submitted “friend of the court” briefs in twelve separate lawsuits brought by more than forty Catholic organizations.
The Catholic organizations, including the Archdiocese of New York, the University of Notre Dame, and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago, are challenging the HHS mandate.
The mandate requires employers to cover sterilization, prescription contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs, and related patient education and counseling services in their health insurance plans regardless of the employers’ religious opposition to such activities and services.
The briefs were submitted in support of the Catholic organizations, who are opposing the federal government’s motions to dismiss their twelve lawsuits. The briefs were submitted with requests that the courts accept them for filing.
Joining the ACLJ on the briefs are the following seventy-nine Members of the United States House of Representatives: Jeff Landry (LA), Robert Aderholt (AL), Todd Akin (MO), Mark Amodei (NV), Michele Bachmann (MN), Spencer Bachus (AL), Lou Barletta (PA), Roscoe Bartlett (MD), Dan Benishek (MI), Gus Bilirakis (FL), Diane Black (TN), Marsha Blackburn (TN), Charles Boustany (LA), Kevin Brady (TX), Paul Broun (GA), Dan Burton (IN), Francisco “Quico” Canseco (TX), Bill Cassidy (LA), Steve Chabot (OH), Michael Conaway (TX), Chip Cravaack (MN), Jeff Duncan (SC), Renee Ellmers (NC), Stephen Fincher (TN), John Fleming (LA), Bill Flores (TX), J. Randy Forbes (VA), Jeff Fortenberry (NE), Virginia Foxx (NC), Bob Goodlatte (VA), Gregg Harper (MS), Andy Harris (MD), Vicky Hartzler (MO), Wally Herger (CA), Tim Huelskamp (KS), Bill Huizenga (MI), Bill Johnson (OH), Walter Jones (NC), Jim Jordan (OH), Mike Kelly (PA), Steve King (IA), John Kline (MN), Raul Labrador (ID), Doug Lamborn (CO), James Lankford (OK), Bob Latta (OH), Dan Lipinski (IL), Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO), Dan Lungren (CA), Don Manzullo (IL), Jeff Miller (FL), Mick Mulvaney (SC), Tim Murphy (PA), Randy Neugebauer (TX), Alan Nunnelee (MS), Pete Olson (TX), Steven Palazzo (MS), Ron Paul (TX), Steve Pearce (NM), Joe Pitts (PA), Ted Poe (TX), Mike Pompeo (KS), Ben Quayle (AZ), Reid Ribble (WI), Phil Roe (TN), Todd Rokita (IN), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL), Dennis Ross (FL), Steve Scalise (LA), Bobby Schilling (IL), Jean Schmidt (OH), David Schweikert (AZ), Adrian Smith (NE), Chris Smith (NJ), Lamar Smith (TX), Glenn Thompson (PA), Tim Walberg (MI), Lynn Westmoreland (GA), and Joe Wilson (SC).
The ACLJ and the Members of Congress explain in their “friend of the court” briefs that the mandate runs counter to this Nation’s long and proud tradition of accommodating the religious beliefs and practices of all its citizens. The mandate imposes an unconstitutional burden on individuals and organizations, who firmly oppose having to subsidize, provide, and/or facilitate activities and services that are contrary to their religious beliefs.
Moreover, the ACLJ and the Members of Congress address the federal government’s claim that the Catholic organizations filed their lawsuit too soon. The government seeks to have the courts dismiss the twelve cases based on the government’s claim that the organizations are not yet injured by the mandate.
In response to that argument, the ACLJ and the Members of Congress explain that the Catholic organizations are currently being injured by the mandate.
The mandate is causing them to readjust their financial affairs now to prepare to pay significant annual penalties to the federal government, which is what is required if these organizations do not want to pay for activities and services that run contrary to their faith. The organizations, then, cannot use that money for ministry-related purposes.
The “friend of the court” briefs were filed in the following twelve cases:
1. Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington, et al. v. Sebelius, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Case No. 1:12-cv-815;
2. Most Rev. R. Daniel Conlon, et al. v. Sebelius, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Case No. 1:12-cv-3932, with the assistance of local counsel, David W. Schopp, of the Aurora, Illinois, Law Office of David W. Schopp;
3. Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, et al. v. Sebelius, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division, Case No. 1:12-cv-159;
4. University of Notre Dame v. Sebelius, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division, Case No. 3:12-cv-253;
5. Catholic Diocese of Biloxi, et al. v. Sebelius, U.S District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, Case No. 1:12-cv-158, with the assistance of local counsel, Trey Lamar, of the Senatobia, Mississippi, law firm of Lamar & Hannaford, P.A.;
6. Archdiocese of St. Louis, et al. v. Sebelius, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, Case No. 4:12-cv-924;
7. Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, et al. v. Sebelius, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Case No. 1:12-cv-2542, with the assistance of local counsel, Neil Merkl, of the New York City law firm of Kelley, Drye & Warren, LLP;
8. Franciscan University of Steubenville, et al. v. Sebelius, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Case No. 2:12-cv-440, with the assistance of local counsel, R. Jason Howard, of the Dayton, Ohio, Howard Law Offices;
9. Most Rev. Donald W. Trautman, et al. v. Sebelius, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh Division, Case No. 1:12-cv-123, with the assistance of local counsel, Noah P. Fardo, of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, law firm of Flaherty Fardo, LLC;
10. Most Rev. David A. Zubik, et al. v. Sebelius, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Erie Division, Case No. 2:12-cv-676, with the assistance of local counsel, Noah P. Fardo, of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, law firm of Flaherty Fardo, LLC;
11. Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas v. Sebelius, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, Case No. 3:12-cv-1589; and
12. Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth v. Sebelius, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division, Case No. 4:12-cv-314.
The ACLJ’s own lawsuit challenging the HHS mandate is proceeding in federal court in St. Louis, Missouri.
This was the first lawsuit filed on behalf of a private business. In that case, the ACLJ recently filed a motion requesting that the court enjoin the enforcement of the mandate on the business.