Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
A federal judge has been asked to grant an emergency motion that would prevent Barack Obama’s penalty for the “free exercise of religion” under Obamacare from taking effect on Aug. 1, according to a legal team representing several Michigan individuals and organizations.
‘The plaintiffs fear imminent violation of their constitutional rights and religious beliefs” and “have no choice but to seek this [Temporary Restraining Order] with the court in order to protect plaintiffs’ constitutional rights and avoid severe monetary fines for noncompliance,” says documentation submitted by the Thomas More Law Center to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
The case had been brought by Legatus, Weingartz Supply Co. and Daniel Weingartz against Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and other federal officials over the requirement that health insurance policies demanded under Obamacare pay for abortion services.
The plaintiffs said they had tried with multiple meetings and exchanges to work out the issue with the defendants but could not. The original case accused Obama administration officials of targeting the Catholic church teachings the plaintiffs follow:
“Had plaintiffs’ religious beliefs, or the beliefs of the million other Americans who share plaintiffs’ religious beliefs been obscure or unknown, the defendants’ actions might have been an accident,” alleged the lawsuit filed by the Thomas More Law Center on behalf of business owners and the Catholic organization.
“But because the defendants acted with full knowledge of those beliefs, and because they arbitrarily exempt some plans for a wide range of reasons other than religious conviction, the mandate can be interpreted as nothing other than a deliberate attack by the defendants on the Catholic church, the religious beliefs held by plaintiffs and the similar religious beliefs held by millions of other Americans.”
Richard Thompson, Thomas More’s president and chief counsel, explained: “Whether you are a Catholic or Protestant or have no religion at all, the free exercise of religion and right of conscience is our most fundamental human right and must be vigorously defended on behalf of all Americans. Or else our Constitution becomes nothing more than a piece of paper with nice sounding words. That’s why I believe every American regardless of religious beliefs has a stake in the successful outcome of this lawsuit.”
The emergency motion seeking protection was filed with Judge Robert H. Cleland to prevent the mandate from taking effect in a few days.
The law center reported, “The backdrop for the law center’s motion for a Temporary Restraining Order is one of the U.S. Supreme Court’s greatest statements on our fundamental rights recognized by the Bill of Rights: ‘If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.’”
Erin Mersino, the lead counsel in the case for the Thomas More Law Center, was joined by Charles LiMandri, the law center’s West Coast director, in the motion.
“We have asked Judge Cleland to set a court hearing on our motion for the earliest possible time to prevent immediate injury to our clients’ right of conscience. Without the court’s intervention, the HHS mandate effectively penalizes their free exercise of religion,” Mersino said.
The goal of the case is to block permanently the implementation of the HHS mandate which requires employers and individuals to obtain insurance coverage for abortions and contraception on the grounds that it imposes clear violations of conscience on Americans who morally object to abortion and contraception.
The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the HHS mandate under the First Amendment rights to the Free Exercise of Religion and Free Speech and the Establishment Clause. It also claims that the HHS mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and the Administrative Procedure Act.
Thompson said, “The Obama administration deliberately declared war on the Catholic Church by promulgating the HHS mandate. And contrary to what they want you to believe, this case is not about contraception. It is about the religious freedom of Christians, in this case Catholics, to peaceably practice their faith free from government coercion.”
He warned the religious liberty for all will be endangered if the Obama administration succeeds in forcing Catholics to violate their beliefs.
The plaintiffs are Legatus, the nation’s largest organization of top Catholic business CEOs and professional leaders, Weingartz Supply Co. of Michigan and its president, Daniel Weingartz, also a member of Legatus.
The lawsuit explains: “This is a case about religious freedom. Thomas Jefferson, a Founding Father of our country, principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and our third president, when describing the construct of our Constitution proclaimed, ‘No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority.’”
The case seeks a declaration that the mandate violates the Constitution and cannot be enforced.
“As practicing Catholics, the plaintiffs align their beliefs with Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, which states ‘any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation, whether as an end or as a means’ – including contraception – is a grave sin,’” the motion explains.
“Due to these beliefs, plaintiffs designed insurance policies which specifically exclude coverage for contraception, abortion, and abortifacients. … However after August 1, 2012, plaintiffs will no longer have the right to make health care insurance decisions in line with their Catholic views.”
“Defendants have forced the plaintiffs to face this decision: comply with their deeply held religious beliefs or comply with federal law,” the lawsuit says.
While the U.S. Supreme Court, based on Justice John Roberts’ determination that what Obama calls a “penalty” actually is a “tax,” affirmed Obamacare, there are a number of cases that continue.
“We are already … preparing for years of new court battles over health care mandates,” explained Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute.
Pacific Justice attorneys said they see several major flashpoints, including the abortion mandate. Other challenges are expected to other regulations which haven’t even been announced yet.