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Divided DC Court of Appeals’ Decision partial victory against Obama Mandate

by | Nov 1, 2013

By Dave Andrusko

dccourthousefrontAlthough it included much to cheer, the decision today by a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia still leaves the ObamaCare mandate requiring employers to purchase health insurance for their employees that includes coverage for items and procedures they object remains a burden on religious freedom.

The 2-1 decision ruled in favor of Francis and Philip Gilardi, owners of Freshway Foods of Sidney, Ohio. The court held that the mandate “places a substantial burden on the religious beliefs of business owners whose religious beliefs forbid them to pay for those services,” according to The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).

“The Court, however, declined to accept the Gilardis’ argument that their companies themselves – Freshway Foods and Fresh Unlimited – are entitled to bring their own religious liberty claims essentially on the ground that the U.S. Supreme Court has not yet addressed what the Court of Appeals called a question with ‘far-reaching’ implications,” the ACLJ explained in a press release.

“While we are obviously pleased with the Court’s recognition that the HHS Mandate burdens the Gilardis’ right to religious freedom as secured by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, we are disappointed that the Court failed to protect the rights of the companies involved,” said Francis J. Manion, Senior Counsel of the ACLJ who argued the case at the D.C. Court of Appeals. “While this is a victory for the individual plaintiffs, the appeals court rejected a critical argument that the rights of the companies be protected as well.”

The ACLJ says it plans to file a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court next week asking the high court to take the case.

Writing at National Review Online, Ed Whelan noted that Judge Janice Rogers Brown ruled

“the Gilardis themselves have been injured by the HHS mandate in a way that is separate and distinct from the injury to their companies. The HHS mandate burdens their exercise of religion by pressuring them to approve and endorse the inclusion of objectionable coverage in their companies’ health plans. ‘They can either abide by the sacred tenets of their faith, pay a penalty of over $14 million, and cripple the companies they have spent a lifetime building, or they become complicit in a grave moral wrong.’”

ACLJ’s Francis J. Manion was interviewed today by National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez who asked Manion why should people of any and no religion care” about the Health and Human Services (HSS) mandate?

MANION: The HHS mandate is unprecedented in the scope of its intrusion into citizens’ religious liberty. Ever since Roe, et al. Congress has essentially followed a ‘live and let live’ approach to issues of forcing people to pay for other people’s reproductive health-decisions. Conscience rights have been, for the most part, respected by parties on opposite sides of the underlying moral issues. The HHS mandate is a dangerous repudiation of that approach.”

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Categories: ObamaCare
Tags: ObamaCare