January 29, 2014 Claiming “an unprecedented attack on religious liberty,” the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) yesterday filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in two separate cases, Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc, and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., pending in the U.S. Supreme Court. In both cases, the plaintiffs are devout Christians who built their businesses from the ground up. They object on religious grounds to providing certain contraceptives which are mandated by the Department of Health and Human Services headed by Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Both cases are scheduled for oral arguments on March 25, 2014 and the Court’s decision is expected sometime before the end of June.
TMLC’s brief focuses on religious liberty, “This case is not about competing rights; there is only one right at issue here − the right to religious freedom.” The brief goes on to explain that there is no constitutional right to “free” contraception or abortion. Moreover, that “The employers are not objecting to their employees’ private decision to use these drugs, they are objecting to being forced by the government to pay for insurance plans that facilitate or contribute to these decisions. The employers object to being used to further a government objective that violates their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
TMLC’s brief appealed to the foundations upon which our country was built:
“The United States was founded upon a set of noble and workable principles that formed the basis for the Bill of Rights. Paramount was the recognition that for a citizenry to be truly free, they must be allowed to think, to speak, and to worship God without government interference or unjustified restriction.”
The brief referred to our Founding Fathers:
“They risked their fortunes and their lives to create a country where people could be free to live and to worship consistent with their own conscience, and to provide for their families without unnecessary and crippling burdens created by an all-powerful government. The citizens currently before the Court challenging the Mandate can appreciate the struggles those early patriots faced. They too cannot allow injustice to prosper and are risking their fortunes and their livelihoods to defend the constitutional freedoms that define this country.”
The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) is a national public interest law firm located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It has filed 11 federal cases involving 33 different plaintiffs challenging the HHS Mandate. One of those cases, Eden Foods v. Sebelius et al, is currently in the U.S. Supreme Court, but not scheduled for argument. The Government has suggested to the Court that the Eden Foods case be held in abeyance pending the decision in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga cases.
Richard Thompson, the President and Chief Counsel for the Law Center, commented, “The religious liberty of every American is at stake. If we lose these cases, the guarantee of religious liberty under our constitution and laws becomes a farce.”
The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby represented by the Becket Fund in June 2013, arguing that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act applies to corporate entities, thereby shielding Hobby Lobby founder David Green from providing insurance plans that abide by the Obama Administration’s contraception mandate.
However, in August 2013, the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals rejected the same arguments, forcing the Mennonite owners of Conestoga Wood Specialties, represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, to offer health insurance to their employees in a grave violation of their religious beliefs.