A pro-life legal group today filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to review a lower court’s decision in a case seeking to overturn the pro-abortion HHS mandate that is a part of the Obamacare law.
Liberty Counsel filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in its case for Liberty University against the abortion mandate. Liberty Counsel’s challenge to ObamaCare argues the contraception-abortifacient mandate forcing employers to provide free abortion-inducing drugs or devices violates the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment Free Exercise of Religion Clause.
“Under the Employer Mandate, employers are compelled to purchase an unwanted government-defined insurance product at a government-defined price,” the petition says. “If they fail to do so, then they face fines that can be as high as $15,000 per employer per day and penalties of $2,000 per employee per year, even if they provide health insurance which does not include abortion-inducing drugs or devices,” according to the petition.
“The Supreme Court has already found that the government cannot force individuals to purchase an unwanted product under the Individual Mandate,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “It is only logical that government also lacks authority to force employers to purchase an unwanted product,” said Staver.
“The insurance mandates also require that insurance policies provide coverage for contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs, regardless of the fact that providing such coverage violates religious beliefs of individuals and employers,” the petition explains. “If individuals and employers refuse to provide the free contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs, then they will be saddled with government penalties. In essence, it is akin to the old adage ‘your money or your life,’ only it is ‘your money or your religious beliefs.’”
“The Fourth Circuit’s ruling contradicts this Court’s precedents and creates an inter-circuit conflict with the Tenth, Seventh and Eighth circuits,” the petition concluded. “This Court should accept plenary review to resolve the conflicts presented by this case, including whether the Employer Mandate is supported by the Taxing and Spending Clause or the Commerce Clause, and whether the Individual and Employer Mandates violate religious free exercise.”
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In August, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, issued an order to stay the mandate until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a petition for cert to be filed with the High Court by Liberty Counsel, on behalf of Liberty University and two private individuals.
The mandate went into effect last year on August 1 and the very minimal religious protections were set to go into effect August 1, but they will be implemented and enforcement will take place starting on January 1.
Before that, a federal court granted Hobby Lobby a preliminary injunction against the HHS abortion-drug mandate. The injunction prevents the Obama administration from enforcing the mandate against the Christian company, which does not want to be compelled to pay for birth control or drugs that may cause abortions.
“The tide has turned against the HHS mandate,” said Kyle Duncan, General Counsel with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and lead attorney for Hobby Lobby. “This is a major victory for not only Hobby Lobby, but the religious liberty of all for-profit businesses.”