A New Victory in the Fight Against the HHS Mandate

Posted by Matt Yonke (November 29, 2012 at 2:38 pm)

O'Brien Holdings officeIn March of 2012, Frank O’Brien and his business, St. Louis based O’Brien Industrial Holdings LLC. (offices pictured left), filed suit against the US Department of Human Services.

O’Brien claimed that the department’s contraceptive mandate under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) violated O’Brien’s religious freedom by forcing him to provide contraception, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs to his employees through their health plans.

This October, U.S. District Judge Carole Jackson ruled against O’Brien, saying:

This Court rejects the proposition that requiring indirect financial support of a practice, from which plaintiff himself abstains according to his religious principles, constitutes a substantial burden on plaintiff’s religious exercise.

First HHS Mandate Challenge to Reach Federal Appeals Court

O’Brien immediately appealed his case to the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and today, reports that he was granted a preliminary injunction ruling that O’Brien Industrial Holdings does not have to obey the HHS Mandate while the case is pending.

This is a first and a major victory because O’Brien’s is the first case challenging the HHS Mandate to reach the Federal Appeals Court level. All other cases are currently still being heard at the district court level.

Francis Manion, Senior Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, the public interest law firm representing O’Brien said:

By granting our motion, the appeals court blocks the implementation of the HHS mandate and clears the way for our lawsuit to continue – a significant victory for our client.

The order sends a message that the religious beliefs of employers must be respected by the government. We have argued from the beginning that employers like Frank O’Brien must be able to operate their business in a manner consistent with their moral values, not the values of the government.

We look forward to this case moving forward and securing the constitutional rights of our client.

The case is also a first insofar as it was the first brought by a private company instead of a religious employer.

Dozens of Cases Still in the Courts

According to The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, O’Brien’s is only one of 40 cases involving 110 plaintiffs challenging the HHS Mandate nationwide, and though there have been some setbacks, many cases are making good progress.

On Friday, November 16, a judge granted Bible publishers Tyndale House a temporary injunction as their case is heard and several other cases have received similar stays.

We continue to watch and pray as these cases wind their way through the court system as they are our best hope of defeating this pernicious mandate. But even if they fail, we will continue to resist any government order that forces us to compromise our faith.

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