Pro-family forces have won an early skirmish in the war over Barack Obama’s attempt to force businesses — including those guided by Christian values — to provide free birth control, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs to their employees.
On July 27, federal judge John L. Kane of the U.S. District Court of Colorado imposed a preliminary injunction halting the Health and Human Services’ (HHS) so-called “contraception mandate” in the case of a Colorado-based company, Hercules Industries, whose owners are devout Catholic Christians. Kane ruled that the company would suffer “irreparable harm” if its owners were required to abide by the mandate in conflict with their religious convictions.
Not long after the Obama administration announced that the mandate would move forward, Hercules’ owners — William Newland, Paul Newland, James Newland, and Christine Ketterhagen — sued the federal government to suspend the rule, one of 24 lawsuits filed thus far. Matt Bowman of the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), the conservative legal advocacy group that is representing the company, said the suit “seeks to ensure that Washington bureaucrats cannot force families to abandon their faith just to earn a living.” Bowman noted that “Americans don’t want politicians and bureaucrats deciding what faith is, who the faithful are, and where and how that faith may be lived out.”
In his ruling, Kane wrote that the company’s owners “seek to run Hercules in a manner that reflects their sincerely held religious beliefs.” To make certain faith came first in their operation, the owners added a provision in the company’s articles of incorporation allowing the board of directors to make “religious, ethical, or moral standards” a priority over profitability.
Kane wrote that the government’s arguments in favor of the mandate “are countered, and indeed outweighed, by the public interest in the free exercise of religion. As the Tenth Circuit has noted, ‘there is a strong public interest in the free exercise of religion even where that interest may conflict with [another statutory scheme]….’ Accordingly, the public interest favors entry of an injunction in this case.” Kane added that the government’s “harm pales in comparison to the possible infringement upon Plaintiffs’ constitutional and statutory rights.”
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