Yesterday, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals granted our motion for an injunction against the U.S. government's enforcement of the so-called "HHS Mandate," a series of regulations requiring virtually all employers to pay for their employees' contraception, sterilization, and early abortion-inducing drugs. Our client, Frank O'Brien, is a St. Louis business owner who takes his Catholic faith seriously; so seriously that he doesn't want the government to force him to pay for things he considers immoral. O'Brien doesn't care -- doesn't want to know -- what his employees do in their bedrooms. He just doesn't want Kathleen Sebelius or Barack Obama telling him he has to pay for what they do, even when doing so is against his religion.
More than 40 cases have been filed around the country challenging the HHS Mandate on behalf of religiously affiliated schools, charitable institutions, and nonprofit organizations who say that the Mandate is a blatant violation of the Constitution's protection of religious freedom. Frank O'Brien's case was the first filed on behalf of a for-profit business owner. In September, the U.S. District Court in St. Louis threw out O'Brien's case, saying that the Mandate was not a "substantial burden" on his exercise of religion. We filed an appeal with the 8th Circuit before the ink was dry on the court's opinion.
The district court reasoned: O'Brien wasn't being forced to use contraception; he could still attend Mass; he could still send his kids to Catholic schools. What's the big deal?
The big deal is that in this country, from its founding, the right to the "free exercise of religion" has always meant much more than the mere freedom to worship within the walls of your church. The Continental Congress, in the darkest hours of the Revolution, with the very existence of the newly birthed Nation threatened by the approach of the greatest military machine in the world, saw fit to exempt from military service "people who, from religious principles, cannot bear arms in any case." Congress didn't tell the Quaker and Moravian pacifists who asked for the exemption that they were still free to have their meetings and raise their children as they chose, so shoulder a musket and fight. Congress told them that "this Congress intend no violence to their consciences" and exempted them from what most people in just about every country in the world would consider a paramount duty of any citizen. That expansive idea of, "free exercise of religion," encompassing not only what a person believes, but also what a person does or refuses to do, in the public square, and yes, even in the commercial marketplace, is what the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) are meant to protect.
Nobody froze with Washington at Valley Forge to secure the right of government bureaucrats to coerce free men and women to violate their consciences. Nobody died on Omaha Beach so that someday all Americans would have the right to force their boss to buy them birth control pills.
The HHS Mandate, which compels employers to directly contribute to causes which they abhor, is, as Jefferson would put it, "tyrannical." We at the ACLJ will not stand by while this government, or any government, tries to grind the First Amendment beneath its heels.
Today, the ACLJ filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in support of the Little Sisters of the Poor and the Trump Administration and their efforts to defend religious employers that object to the abortion-pill mandate. The brief was submitted on behalf of over 463,000 ACLJ...
This could finally be the death knell for ObamaCare. The Supreme Court just agreed to hear a THIRD major challenge to ObamaCare, aka the Affordable Care Act, after a group of conservative-led states argued that the law is now, at least in part, unconstitutional. As reported by Fox News : The U.S.
ObamaCare is heading back to the Supreme Court in a case that could be the final blow to the Affordable Care Act. On today’s Jay Sekulow Live we discussed ObamaCare heading back to the Supreme Court. With tomorrow being Super Tuesday, we also provided updated analysis on the race for the Democrat...
Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that ObamaCare’s individual mandate is unconstitutional. As we explained earlier , the individual mandate required millions of Americans to buy and indefinitely maintain health insurance or face annual penalties. The Supreme...