The American Center for Law & Justice has filed its opening brief in Gilardi v. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, an appeal pending in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
We represent Frank and Phil Gilardi and their two companies, Freshway Foods and Freshway Logistics. The Gilardis are Catholic, and they run their companies pursuant to their faith.
In keeping with their Catholic faith, the Gilardis have ensured for the past decade that they do not pay for any contraceptive methods, including abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization procedures in their employee health plan. If their employees choose to purchase such products and services with their own money, they are free to do so.
The HHS Mandate, however, would require the Gilardis and their companies to pay for such products and services in violation of their Catholic faith. Failure to comply would result in annual penalties of more than $14 million dollars.
This past January, we filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Gilardis and their two companies against the federal government to prevent the application of the Mandate.
We also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to allow our clients to continue to exclude from their health plan any coverage for contraceptive methods, abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization procedures while the case proceeded through the courts. In early March, however, the trial court denied our motion.
We immediately appealed that decision to the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals and filed an emergency motion for an injunction pending appeal to stop the application of the Mandate before April 1st, the date on which the Mandate would apply to our clients.
On March 21st, a panel of three appellate judges, by a 2-to-1 vote, denied our emergency motion. We then filed an emergency request that the court reconsider its ruling, grant our motion, and enter an injunction before April 1st.
Thankfully, on March 29th, we received an order from the appellate court explaining that the original three judges who had previously denied our emergency motion had reconsidered their ruling and had decided to grant our clients an injunction pending appeal.
With that injunction, the Mandate does not apply to our clients while their case proceeds on appeal, and they will not have to pay for products and services that run contrary to their religious beliefs.
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Although we obtained the injunction pending appeal, we still need to convince the appellate court that the district court erred in denying the motion for a preliminary injunction. The first step in that process is the filing of the opening brief.
We will continue to keep you posted about this case and about our other lawsuits challenging the Mandate.
LifeNews Note: Edward White is Senior Counsel with the ACLJ and has been practicing law for more than twenty years. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame Law School, where he was a Thomas J. White Center for Law & Government Scholar and managing and student articles editor of the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy.