Dominos Pizza Founder Wins Court Order Stopping HHS Abortion Mandate
by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 3/14/13 3:56 PM
The founder of Dominos Pizza won his bid for a court order to prevent enforcement of the mandate while the lawsuit it filed against the Obama administration over the HHS mandate that forces religious employers to purchase drugs that may cause abortions for their employees continues.
Tom Monaghan calls requiring businesses, schools and other religious places to pay for such drugs a “gravely immoral” practice and filed suit earlier this month 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.
Today, the Thomas More Law Center, a pro-life legal group, informed LifeNews that Federal District Court Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff of the Eastern District of Michigan granted a Motion for a Preliminary Injunction against enforcement of the HHS Mandate it filed for Monaghan and his property management company, Domino’s Farm Corporation.
Judge Zatkoff previously ruled in favor of granting an emergency temporary restraining order in January. The preliminary injunction extends the previous ruling to protect the plaintiffs for the entire pendency of the case.
Erin Mersino, an attorney with Thomas More, told LifeNews, “The HHS Mandate forces our clients to provide abortion causing drugs to their employees when doing so is a direct violation of the teachings of the Catholic Church and our clients’ sincerely held religious beliefs. The Court’s decision today upholds everyone’s freedom of religion and rights protected by the Constitution.”
Mersino said Judge Zatkoff’s decision protects our freedoms granted under the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Obama administration argued against the preliminary injunction by claiming that once a business owner chooses to enter into the marketplace, he surrenders his right to exercise his religious beliefs.
Mersino TMLC’s lead counsel on the case, provided for the Court in briefing the quotation from President Ronald Reagan, “To those who cite the First Amendment as reason for excluding God from more and more of our institutions and everyday life, may I just say: The First Amendment of the Constitution was not written to protect the people of this country from religious values; it was written to protect religious values from government tyranny.”
For purposes of the preliminary injunction, Judge Zatkoff focused only on the unconstitutional nature of the HHS Mandate due its infringement on Mr. Monaghan’s exercise of religion. Judge Zatkoff held that he did not need to engage in a separate discussion of Plaintiffs’ Constitutional right to the Free Exercise of Religion since both theories seek to protect the same liberty interest — the free practice of one’s religion.
The Obama administration is expected to appeal Judge Zatkoff’s ruling to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Judge Zatkoff’s ruling halts enforcement of the HHS mandate against Monaghan and his property management company, Domino’s Farms Corporation of which he is the owner and sole shareholder. Domino’s Farms Corporation manages an Office Complex owned by Monaghan and is not to be confused with Domino’s Pizza. Monaghan sold the Pizza company in 1998 and has no active affiliation with it at this time.
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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.