A federal judge has delivered another blow to Obamacare, issuing a permanent injunction against enforcement of the national health care law’s contraceptive mandate against a Michigan company whose owners objected to the president’s signature law because of its violation of their religious faith.
The ruling comes from U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker in the case brought by the company Autocam, a maker of medical devices.
He ordered that the federal government is “permanently enjoined” from trying to enforce the Obamacare Contraceptive Coverage Requirement against the company.
The fight had been handled by officials with the Thomas More Society who worked to protect the religious freedom for officials of Autocam Medical LLC.
Jonker initially had ruled against Autocam when the lawsuit first was filed more than three years ago. But in light of last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, he reversed himself.
Now, the family owned business cannot be required “to provide its employees with health coverage for contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and related patient education and counseling to which plaintiff objects on religious grounds.”
Jack Kennedy, the CEO of the company, always has held that the government had no right to require that Autocam buy group insurance coverage that provides employees with morally objectionable contraceptives, including abortifacients and sterilization.
“Prior to the government’s implementation of the controversial mandate, Autocam had specifically designed a health insurance plan with Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan to exclude contraception, sterilization, abortion, and abortion-inducing drugs, in keeping with its owners’ deeply held religious beliefs,” the report from the Thomas More Society said.
The Kennedys embrace the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church that contraception, abortion and sterilization are serious wrongs, the legal team said.
“Coercing citizens to violate their conscientious religious beliefs makes a mockery of the very notion of religious freedom,” said Tom Brejcha, president of the Thomas More Society. “We applaud this decision which honors our client’s constitutional rights under the First Amendment as well as its statutory rights under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and we thank Professor Patrick T. Gillen of Ave Maria Law School, our special counsel, for his help in winning this splendid result for our client, one that sets another strong precedent for the free exercise of religious faith on the part of all American citizens.”
The judge’s decision found that the government could not enforce the Obamacare provision against the company, nor could it attempt to impose penalties or fines.
“Ordered that judgment is entered in favor of plaintiff and against defendants on plaintiff’s claim under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” the judge wrote.
When the Supreme Court opinion came in the Hobby Lobby case, observers described it as a “rebuke” to Obama.
Family Research Council Senior Legal Fellow Cathy Ruse said the case was not about reproductive health but about the larger ideal of religious freedom.
“The right to religious freedom and the right to conscientious objection is just one of those basic fundamental rights in our Constitution. It is embraced heartily by Americans and has throughout the centuries. It is one of those freedoms where the individual gets to put his hand up and tell the government, ‘No, you’ve gone too far,'” Ruse told WND.
“The court didn’t create a new principle here. It sure upheld and applied one of the most cherished principles that Americans own and that is our right to conscience,” she said.
Listen to Cathy Ruse’s interview with WND:
“This is a huge win for people of [conscience] and a stern rebuke for Obama and his HHS secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, who have repeatedly overstepped their authority and attempted to strip Americans of their precious freedoms,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman.
Newman said his organization has opposed the Affordable Health Care Act from the beginning because of its “funding of abortion and life-ending drugs” and expressed thankfulness that “Obama’s tyrannical mandate, which ran roughshod over our religious freedoms, has been struck down.”
There are several court cases that still are at, or en route, to the U.S. Supreme Court that could ultimately create bigger problems. One explains that the law limits subsidies to those who purchase coverage through state exchanges, and the subsidies that have been going to people who obtained coverage through federal exchanges are illegal.
Likewise, there’s a case claiming that the law is unconstitutional because Obama has randomly changed its provisions without Congress’ approval, that it’s unconstitutional because as a tax bill it was launched in the U.S. Senate, and several other claims.