SCOTUS Nominee Merrick Garland Ruled Obama Could Make Pro-Life Group Obey HHS Mandate

National   Steven Ertelt   Mar 18, 2016   |   5:56PM    Washington, DC

Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland doesn’t have a long paper trail when it comes to the issue of abortion, but he sided with the majority in one case that forced a pro-life group to obey the HHS mandate — requiring organizations to pay for abortion-causing drugs for their employees.

Garland joined in a unanimous decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in November 2014, which concluded last year that the HHS mandate doesn’t abrogate the religious freedoms of Priests for Life or 11 other religious groups that also challenged the mandate.

Priests for Life was one of the earliest organizations to file a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its HHS mandate. The mandate compels religious groups to pay for birth control drugs and drugs like ella that can cause very early abortions. But Garland’s court ruled against the pro-life groups.

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Father Frank Pavone, the director of the Catholic pro-life group, told LifeNews at the time: “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled today in our challenge to the HHS mandate. In the case of Priests for Life vs. HHS, the Court stated, “We conclude that the challenged regulations do not impose a substantial burden on Plaintiffs’ religious exercise.” The Court is wrong, and we will not obey the mandate.”

The court added: “We also find no merit in Plaintiffs’ additional claims under the Constitution.”

“The government is using the same kind of arguments it has used in other lawsuits against the mandate brought by religious groups, namely, that because they have a religious exemption and in the light of promised changes in the mandate, these groups really aren’t being harmed, have nothing to worry about, and therefore no basis to sue the government,” Pavone added.

“The case of Priests for Life is different from that of the other religious entities, however. We were not covered by the ‘religious exemption,’ and therefore the mandate was to be effective for us this past January 1,” he said.

Earlier the same year, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a favorable ruling in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., a landmark case addressing the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of business owners to operate their family companies without violating their deeply held religious convictions. But that ruling applies only to Hobby Lobby and similar businesses.

Writing for the 5-4 majority, Justice Samuel Alito handed down the decision for the high court, saying, “The Supreme Court holds government can’t require closely held corporations with religious owners to provide contraception coverage.”

The court ruled that the contraception mandate violated the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, a 1993 law and it held that the mandate “substantially burdens the exercise of religion” and that HHS didn’t use the “least restrictive means” to promote this government interest, tests required by RFRA.

Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy joined in the majority decision. Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

Garland’s decision would put him squarely against the then-majority of the Supreme Court and would have someone who oppose religious liberty for pro-life groups replace a champion of it in Justice Scalia.

After President Barack Obama’s nomination of liberal appeals court judge Merrick Garland to replace pro-life Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, the CEO of the Planned Parenthood abortion business was spotted entering the White House.

The abortion corporation praised Garland and demanded the Senate hold a vote on is nomination.

On Facebook, Planned Parenthood praise Garland, saying, “Here’s what you need to know about President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland: He’s an intelligent, highly accomplished judge with a record of bipartisan support. There is no reason for the Senate GOP leadership to obstruct justice and refuse to give Judge Garland a fair hearing.”

Top pro-life groups told LifeNews.com that nothing has changed since Scalia’s passing in terms of their opposition to a vote on any Obama Supreme Court nominee. They say anyone Obama nominates for the Supreme Court will vote to uphold abortion on demand, ergo they will oppose a vote on Garland’s nomination.

Leading pro-life advocates agree the Senate should not vote on Scalia’s replacement until after a new president has been selected.

Garland has praised the author of Roe v. Wade and said his court paper are “the greatest gift to the country.” And information has surfaced showing that his former clerks have gone on to serve liberal judges by a 3-1 margin.

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