In a David-versus-Goliath moment this week, a small, family owned business won a pivotal victory against the federal government in a dispute over the Obama Administration’s implementation of the healthcare law.
A federal district court granted a preliminary injunction Friday in Newland v. Sebelius, one of the dozens of cases challenging the Obama Administration’s “contraceptive” mandate under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). “Faced with a choice between complying with the ACA or complying with their religious beliefs” plaintiffs, a family-run business in Colorado, brought the lawsuit against the mandate.
This David v. Goliath event in which a private, family-owned business pushed back against the over-reaching government signals big problems ahead for the Obama Administration’s conscience-killing mandate. While the case will continue to be litigated to determine whether the mandate will be permanently enjoined, today’s ruling is significant. In order to obtain a preliminary injunction “the right to relief must be clear and unequivocal.”
At issue in the case are the First Amendment freedom of conscience and whether people can be forced to comply with the pro-abortion values of the Obama Administration.
The court found that the “harm” to the government in not being able to force its mandate on the Newland family business, Hercules Industries, “pales in comparison to the possible infringement upon Plaintiffs’ constitutional and statutory rights.” Responding to the government’s arguments for enforcing its mandate against the Newland family, the court found that the government’s reliance on the “public interest” were “countered, and indeed outweighed, by the public interest in the free exercise of religion.”
Notably, the court also found that the government’s “public interest” argument is “undermined by the creation of exemptions for certain religious organizations and employers with grandfathered health insurance plans and a temporary enforcement safe harbor for non-profit organizations.” The court notes that according to government estimates 191 million Americans belong to plans that are currently grandfathered under the ACA. “[T]his massive exemption completely undermines any compelling interest in applying the preventive care coverage mandate to Plaintiffs.”
There is clearly no “need” to force the Newland family business to violate their religious beliefs if the government made the judgment that the public interest does not “need” the mandate to be enforced against these millions of other Americans.
AUL has pointed out time and again that forced coverage for “all FDA approved contraceptives” (which includes the abortion-inducing drug ella) and the Obama Administration’s failure to protect conscience is not only bad policy, but it is unlawful and unconstitutional. Polls also consistently show that more Americans oppose the mandate than support it and that the majority of Americans approve of conscience exemptions.
To date, the Obama Administration has refused to offer sufficient solutions to a serious problem. However, as AUL has pointed out, and the court’s opinion today affirms, the suggestion of some exemptions and a “temporary safe harbor” illustrates that the Obama Administration is capable of both broadening the category of those for whom it permits an exemption and that it is not bound by its self-created timeline in imposing a coercive, anti-life coverage mandate beginning this August.
AUL continues to urge the Obama Administration to act swiftly to comprehensively protect freedom of conscience and to rescind the mandate’s required coverage for drugs and devices with known life-ending mechanisms of action, including the abortion-inducing drug ella.