JUDGE RULES COMPANIES HAVE 1ST AMENDMENT RIGHTS

11/26/12

A federal judge in Michigan has become the second in the nation to say he would halt the federal government’s enforcement of the Obamacare mandate that employers pay for abortifacients regardless of their religious views. The case was brought against the federal government by the Thomas More Law Center on behalf of Legatus, a coalition of Catholic business owners, Daniel Weingartz and his company, Weingartz Supply. The judge’s decision means the federal government will not be allowed to enforce its abortion mandate against the company until the lawsuit is resolved. Judge John J. Kane of Colorado granted Hercules Co. owners Andy Newland and other family members a similar order preventing enforcement of the mandate against the family-owned company. The “mandate” is a set of regulations adopted by Barack Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services, run by the emphatically pro-abortion Kathleen Sebelius, that forces employers, regardless of religious faith, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraception under threat of financial penalties.
The case was brought over the provisions of the Obamacare law that demand Americans buy products from insurance companies or face government penalties of thousands of dollars. It was filed against Sebelius, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and others. The judge said the injunction would not apply to Legatus since, as a nonprofit, the rules applying to that group of organizations was not yet final.
Cleland specifically rejected arguments from the government that the company is secular and has no right to exercise a religious perspective, regardless of what the owner believes. Citing the Citizens United case. He noted that previous rulings have held a corporation “is an extension of the beliefs of [its owners], and for all purposes, the beliefs of [its owners] are the beliefs and tenets of the [corporation].” He said the company has an independent First Amendment right to free exercise of religion, a point that Obama’s lawyers had argued against. Department of Justice attorneys specifically argued the challenge “rests largely on the theory that a self-described secular corporation established to sell outdoor power equipment can claim to exercise religion and thereby avoid the reach of laws designed to regulate commercial activity.”
“It would also cripple the government’s ability to solve national problems through laws of general application.” They said the goals of the government – “improving the health of women and children and equalizing the playing field for women and men” – is so important that even if the regulations are a burden on religious rights, the court should affirm them.
“The government may substantially burden the exercise of religion if it ‘(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest,’” they said. They argued that whatever the religious beliefs of the owners, the fact that the company is set up as a corporation means the government can order it to do anything the government wants, irrespective of the owner’s beliefs.
They said the requirement for companies to have their health care plans provide abortifacients has nothing to do with the owner of the company or his religious beliefs. “By their terms, the regulations apply to group health plans and health insurance issuers. Mr. Weingartz is neither. The regulations do not impose any obligations on individuals.”
“Increased access to contraceptive services is a key part of these predicted health outcomes, as a lack of contraceptive use has proven to have negative health consequences for both women and a developing fetus,” the federal attorneys explained. They did not argue that there would be no damage to the company or its owner but said it simply doesn’t matter.
“Any potential harm to plaintiffs resulting from their desire not to provide contraceptive coverage is thus outweighed by the significant harm an injunction would cause to the public,”
The Bible publisher is not religious for the purposes of being a religious employer.Tyndale House is one of the world’s largest privately held Christian publishers of books and Bibles. But Obamacare demands it purchase the abortion services because it is classified as “categorically non-religious.” That’s even though it is owned by the nonprofit Tyndale House Foundation, through which profits are funneled to be donated to various charities.
“To say that a Bible publisher is not religious is patently absurd. Tyndale House is a prime example of how ridiculous and arbitrary the Obama administration’s mandate is. Americans today clearly agree with America’s founders: the federal government’s bureaucrats are not qualified to decide what faith is, who the faithful are, and where and how that faith may be lived out.” The department has filed an appeal to force the Newland family of Denver, which owns Hercules Industries, to violate their beliefs in the operation of their company, in a case also handled by the ADF.
A trial judge ordered that the mandate could not be enforced immediately against the family that owns Hercules. “In filing its appeal today, the administration sent a clear message that it wants to force families to abandon their faith in order to earn a living. That’s the opposite of religious freedom.”
But it was Obama who said his “Christian faith” has guided his presidency, and, “In a changing world my commitment to protecting religious liberty is and always will be unwavering.”
ADF attorneys have clients in other cases challenging the mandate, including Indiana’s Grace College, California’s Biola University, Louisiana College and Pennsylvania’s Geneva College and the Seneca Hardwood Co. Other lawsuits have been filed by Wheaton College in Illinois, Catholic University of America, University of Notre Dame, the Archdiocese of New York and the Catholic University of America. Larry Cirignano, president of Faithful Catholic Citizens: “Give up your religion or go bankrupt. This is not a mandate; it is an ultimatum. Buy insurance and kill babies or go bankrupt fighting us.
When family owned small businesses were forced to abandon their religious beliefs to provide products and services for free. The HHS mandate imposed on the American people is the beginning of the end of freedom as America has known it and loved it.
The government has told them – either comply with this mandate in violation of your faith and do what we tell you, or you will pay crippling faith fines to the federal government. With the stroke of a pen, the Obama administration has shredded the First Amendment and the Constitution right before our eyes.”
Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute: “The Obama administration’s assault on religious liberty is taking root … Failure to comply with the mandate will result in penalties that could cost business millions of dollars. The administration clearly did not reach a much-vaunted ‘accommodation’ with business owners who strongly oppose the mandate and believe it is a clear violation of their constitutional protection of religious liberty. The Obama administration clearly believes the government is supreme and that individuals and businesses must bow to its dictates or suffer severe consequences.
Thomas Jefferson, ‘All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.’ To force religious groups to deny their deeply held convictions is not called balance; it is called tyranny.”
Who will keep government panels from effectively denying physicians and patients choice about what are the most effective and appropriate medicines, surgeries and treatments. This path sets a dangerous and foolish precedent that First Amendments rights such as freedom of speech, association, freedom of the press and the rights to assemble and petition the government may be just as easily curtailed in the future.
Kristin Hawkins, executive director of Students for Life of America: “Today marks the beginning of the end of religious and conscience rights in America.

Sources—wnd, bob unruh, those quotes above

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