Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Saturday 28 November |
Saint of the Day: Pope St. Gregory III
home iconNews
line break icon

Court Rebukes Administration's 'Narrow' Religious Liberty View

US Embassy Hague

Catholic News Agency - published on 11/17/13

The Obama administration's defense of the HHS mandate has been ruled as "unsound" for contending that business owners cannot have religious freedom protections.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Obama administration’s defense of the HHS mandate is “unsound and extraordinary” for contending that business owners cannot have religious freedom protections.

“The government’s argument is premised on a far-too-narrow view of religious freedom: Religious exercise is protected in the home and the house of worship but not beyond,” the court’s Nov. 12 decision in Grote Industries v. Sebelius said.

“Religious people do not practice their faith in that compartmentalized way; free-exercise rights are not so circumscribed.”

Compelling businesses owners and their companies to provide services such as abortion-causing drugs and devices, sterilization, and contraception “substantially burdens their religious exercise rights,” the court wrote.

The government’s argument that religious exercise claims are irrelevant to commercial activity would “leave religious exercise wholly unprotected in the commercial sphere.”

“On the government’s understanding of religious liberty, a Jewish restaurant operating for profit could be denied the right to observe Kosher dietary restrictions.”

“That cannot be right. There is nothing inherently incompatible between religious exercise and profit-seeking.”

The case concerned Indiana-based Grote Industries, a manufacturer and marketer of vehicle lighting and safety systems. The company’s Catholic owners object to the federal HHS mandate, which requires employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization and early abortion drugs, even if doing so violates their religious beliefs.

Matt Bowman, senior legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, argued before the court on behalf of the company.

“The decision rightly foresees the dangers of allowing government to have this kind of power,” he stated Nov. 12. “If the government can force family business owners to act contrary to their deepest convictions under the threat of fining them out of business, it is a danger to everybody.”

Bowman said a majority of other rulings on the mandate have found it to “excessively conflict with our nation’s guarantee of religious freedom to all Americans.”

“All Americans, including job creators, should be free to honor God and live according to their faith.”

The decision suspends the HHS mandate for the Grote family and Grote Industries. It also suspends the mandate for the Kortes family and their construction company, Illinois-based K & L Contractors.

The appeals court ruled that corporations qualify as legal persons under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and may invoke its protections.

The HHS mandate is the subject of dozens of cases across the country, involving nearly 200 plaintiffs. Several courts, including appellate courts, have ruled in favor of those seeking injunctions against the mandate's enforcement upon them.

On Nov. 1 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of the appellants in Gilardi v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The court found that the mandate places a “substantial burden” on the religious freedom of Francis and Philip Gilardi, two brothers who are Catholic and who own of Freshway Foods and Freshway Logistics, granting the Gilardis a preliminary injunction against the mandate's enforcement.

The court said the Gilardi brothers are “trying to run their business in accordance with their religious beliefs,” though it did not rule that the companies themselves have free exercise rights.

Circuit Judge Brown, writing the court's opinion, said, “we conclude (the Affordable Care Act) does … trammel the right of free exercise – a right that lies at the core of our constitutional liberties.”

Moreover, that decision noted that some of the contraceptives are classified as carcinogenic by the World Health Organization and indicate an increased risk for breast, cervical and liver cancers, saying that “the science is debatable and may actually undermine the government's cause.”

The International Agency for Research on Cancer – part of the World Health Organization – lists estrogen-progestogen oral contraception as a Group 1 known carcinogen, the same category as asbestos, tobacco products and ultraviolet radiation.

Originally published by Catholic News Agency on 15 November 2013.

Tags:
AbortionContraceptionReligious Freedom
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful...
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to t...
FIRST CENTURY HOUSE AT THE SISTERS OF NAZARETH SITE
John Burger
British archaeologist confident he has found ...
PRAY
Cerith Gardiner
12 Things we can be grateful for this Thanksg...
VATICAN POPE GOOD FRIDAY COLOSSEUM
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Learn to pray with the early Church and to di...
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio's favorite prayer of petition
EARTHQUAKE
Bret Thoman, OFS
Two earthquakes couldn't stop these Italian n...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.