(Washington, DC) - The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a pro-life legal organization that focuses on constitutional law, has filed a second federal lawsuit challenging the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate that violates the religious beliefs of Illinois business owners. The new lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, argues that the HHS mandate violates constitutional and statutory rights by requiring the company to purchase health insurance for employees that includes coverage for contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.
The ACLJ represents Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, Inc., a family owned, full-service construction contractor serving Central and Southern Illinois for over 50 years. The company is located in Highland, Illinois and has about 90 full time employees. The company provides a group health insurance plan for only its non-union employees, which number about 20. Cyril B. Korte and Jane E. Korte own a controlling interest in the company and contend the HHS mandate violates their Catholic faith.
According to ACLJ Senior Counsel Edward White, “The HHS mandate violates America’s longstanding history of protecting conscience rights. The mandate is unlawfully compelling employers such as our clients to do the following: abandon their faith to comply with the law, or follow their faith and pay significant annual penalties to the federal government. The mandate must be invalidated.”
The suit, posted here, contends that the HHS mandate violates the Free Exercise Clause, the Establishment Clause, and the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. It also argues the mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.
The ACLJ also filed a motion for preliminary injunction and a motion for partial summary judgment, requesting that the court block implementation of the mandate to prevent it from being enforced when the company renews its health insurance coverage on January 1, 2013. The supporting legal briefs are posted here and here.
This is the second lawsuit of its kind filed by the ACLJ.
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. The legal challenge is similar: the HHS mandate violates the deeply held religious beliefs of the company and its owner. The case is now before a federal appeals court after a lower court dismissed the suit.
White further commented, “Several cases challenging the HHS mandate, including our case on behalf of OIH, are already in the federal courts of appeal. We are confident that we will succeed at that level. There is little doubt, however, that these cases will ultimately reach the U.S. Supreme Court for final resolution. The legal challenge to the mandate is among the most important religious civil liberties causes ever waged.”
Led by ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the ACLJ is based in Washington, D.C.