Before the November elections, pro-life advocates could have a result in one of the dozens of lawsuits taking on the Obama HHS mandate that forces religious employers to pay for abortion-causing drugs for their employees.
Federal District Judge Robert H. Cleland of the Eastern District of Michigan has set the date of September 26 to hear oral arguments on whether the federal government should be enjoined from enforcing the HHS Mandate. The hearing will take place at the U.S. Courthouse in Detroit, Michigan.
The case before Judge Cleland was filed on May 6, 2012 by the Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on behalf of Legatus, the Nation’s largest organization of top Catholic business leaders, and the Ann Arbor-based Weingartz Supply Company, and its president Daniel Weingartz.
Thomas More Law Center attorney, Erin Mersino, is the lead counsel in the lawsuit. Joining as co-counsel is Charles LiMandri, the Law Center’s West Coast Regional Director.
Judge Cleland also ordered an expedited briefing schedule directing the Plaintiffs to file their opening brief by August 15, 2012, and the Government to file a response by August 29, 2012. Although Plaintiffs originally filed a motion for a temporary restraining order, which would have stopped enforcement of the HHS mandate for up to 14 days, the court order requires Plaintiffs to file a separate motion for a preliminary Injunction. The Government agreed it would not enforce the HHS regulations against Plaintiffs prior to January 1, 2013.
“Judge Cleland’s decision to expedite the briefing schedule and set a quick hearing date for oral arguments on our motion for a preliminary injunction against the Government was crucial,” Mersino said. “It best serves our goal of protecting the religious freedoms of our clients. Without the Court’s timely intervention, the HHS mandate effectively penalizes their free exercise of religion.”
The Thomas More Law Center filed its federal lawsuit against Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services; Hilda Solis, Secretary of the Department of Labor; Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the Department of Treasury; and their respective departments.
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The pro-life legal group hopes to permanently block the implementation of the HHS Mandate, which requires employers and individuals to obtain insurance coverage for abortions and contraception on the grounds that it imposes clear violations of conscience on Americans who morally object to abortion and contraception.
The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the HHS Mandate under the First Amendment rights to the Free Exercise of Religion and Free Speech and the Establishment Clause. It also claims that the HHS Mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and the Administrative Procedure Act.