By Dave Andrusko
The Thomas More Law Center reports that a federal judge has granted its Emergency Motion filed on behalf of Tom Monaghan for a Temporary Restraining Order of the Health and Human Services mandate.
The HHS mandate are regulations adopted by the Department of Health and Human Services under a provision of ObamaCare that force employers to purchase health insurance for their employees that includes coverage for items and procedures, such as contraceptives, that they have moral or religious objections to. There are over 40 legal challenges to the mandate.
Federal District Court Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff of the Eastern District of Michigan rendered his decision December 30. His ruling effectively halts enforcement of the HHS mandate against Monaghan and his property management company, Domino’s Farms Corporation of which he is the owner and sole shareholder– not to be confused with Domino’s Pizza which Monaghan once owned.
“Plaintiff has shown that abiding by the mandate will substantially burden his exercise of religion,” Zatkoff wrote. “The government has failed to satisfy its burden of showing that its actions were narrowly tailored to serve a compelling interest. … This factor weighs in favor of granting Plaintiffs’ motion.”
Two days before, the Seventh Circuit granted an emergency motion for an injunction against the mandate filed by the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ). Last October, the trial court had denied the motion filed on behalf of Cyril and Jane Korte and their family-owned construction company.
The urgency stemmed from the fact that the company had to renew its group health plan on January 1.
“The Seventh Circuit, unlike some other courts that have denied relief to for-profit businesses, properly understood how the Mandate harms the religious beliefs of employers,” according to Edward White of the ACLJ. “Forcing an employer to pay for a health plan that includes what the employer believes are immoral drugs and services is the equivalent of forcing that employer to provide employees with coupons for those things paid for by the employer himself. “
The ACJL had previously prevailed in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit which blocked the application of the mandate to O’Brien Industrial Holdings of St. Louis while the case is pending on appeal.
There has been a series of decisions, many of them in favor of those challenging the HHS mandate.
· In mid-December a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. handed Wheaton College and Belmont Abbey College a major victory in their challenges to the HHS mandate. Last summer, two lower courts had dismissed the Colleges’ cases as premature. On December 18 the appellate court reinstated those cases, and ordered the Obama Administration to report back every 60 days—starting in mid-February—until the Administration makes good on its promise to issue a new rule that protects the Colleges’ religious freedom. The new rule must be issued by March 31, 2013.
· Earlier in December, in a strongly worded judgment federal Judge Brian Cogan ruled that a lawsuit from the Archdiocese of New York against the Obama administration’s HHS mandate may proceed. The Obama administration had argued that the archdiocese’s lawsuit was premature, since the administration may still make adjustments to the mandate that would stop it from having any effect on the archdiocese. Cogan dismissed the assurances of a “safe harbor” while the Obama Administration supposedly looks for an “accommodation.”
· On the other hand, attorneys for the Christian-operated business Hobby Lobby say the company will defy the Obama mandate. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor rejected an appeal for an emergency appeal to temporarily stop enforcement of the Health and Human Services mandate.