The Catholic businessman who is the founder and former owner of the Domino’s Pizza chain has filed a lawsuit over the HHS mandate that forces religious employers to purchase drugs that may cause abortions for their employees.
Tom Monaghan calls requiring businesses, schools and other religious places to pay for such drugs a “gravely immoral” practice and filed suit late Friday in federal court for Domino’s Farms, a business development complex he owns.
Monaghan says he currently offers his employees health insurance that does not pay for abortions or birth control drugs that may cause early abortions and he has asked a judge to strike down the mandate, saying it violates his First Amendment religious rights.
Attorney Wesley Smith, who is pro-life, commented on the lawsuit.
“Monaghan, who already offers employees health insurance that doesn’t cover contraception, is a very devout Catholic. How devout? He founded Ave Maria University and Ave Maria Law School–both orthodox Catholic institutions of higher learning. (Neither are parties to this suit, which involves Monaghan’s business interests.) He takes his faith very seriously and clearly is more than willing to put his considerable money where his mouth is,” he said.
“This isn’t about birth control, but the power of the government to bulldoze freedom of religion down to a mere freedom of worship. Regardless of one’s faith or lack thereof, all who believe in American liberty should wish Monaghan well,” he said.
Late Friday, the Obama administration told a three judge panel from a federal appeals court that it wants lawsuits related to the pro-abortion HHS mandate put on hold. Administration officials claim the mandate will be revised to provide more options for religious employers.
During a hearing in the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Justice Department attorney Adam Jed said HHS will release a revised version of the mandate during the early months of next year and will make it final by August 2013. That would come before the one year “safe harbor” protections that pro-life groups say is so limiting it offers virtually no protection for such groups, expires.
Recently, a federal judge in New York became the first to rule against the government on this issue holding that the “safe harbor” and promised “accommodation” were inadequate to protect religious organizations from suffering harm. The court remarked that, “There is no ‘Trust us changes are coming’ clause in the Constitution.”
The most recent poll shows a plurality of Americans oppose the mandate.
The Supreme Court has ordered a federal appeals court to take a new look at the controversial Obamacare law and whether it unconstitutionally forces taxpayers to fund abortions and birth control, violating religious freedoms. The high court is ultimately expected to resolve the debate over the HHS mandate.
Before Thanksgiving, a federal district court judge in Chicago issued a preliminary injunction requested by the religious publisher Tyndale House in its challenge to the mandate. HHS has denied Tyndale House’s request for an exemption, saying that it didn’t meet the government’s definition of a “religious employer” because it operates as a “for-profit” business.
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But while Tyndale House won an important victory, at the same time the owners of Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts store chain, were losing their challenge to the HHS mandate in Oklahoma City. Like other challengers, they said that paying for such coverage violated their religious beliefs.
There are now 40 separate lawsuits challenging the HHS mandate, which is a regulation under the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) including suits from Hobby Lobby, Wheaton College, East Texas Baptist University, Houston Baptist University, Belmont Abbey College, Colorado Christian University, the Eternal Word Television Network, and Ave Maria University.