Enough is enough, and it’s “time for government to stop going after religious colleges and ministries and start respecting religious liberty,” according to a spokesman for a legal team that on Tuesday won yet another case against the Obama administration over its Obamacare contraception mandate.
The comment came from Eric Baxter, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has been a key part of the battle against the Obamacare requirement that employers pay for birth control, including abortion-causing drugs.
This time a federal judge in Florida has ruled that the government’s latest revisions to the mandate still “don’t do enough to protect people of faith.”
The ruling came from Judge James Moody Jr. in a suit by Ave Maria University, which charged the Obamacare requirement violates the faith on which it operates.
The university was facing millions of dollars in fines, but won an injunction “protecting its right to stay true to its beliefs,” Becket said.
It was the first order preventing the government from enforcing its demands against religious organizations since it tried to solve the dispute in August with an”augmented rule.”
The judge explained the university wanted a preliminary injunction until the case is resolved.
“Defendants do not dispute that Ave Maria is a nonprofit Catholic university purposed with ‘educat[ing] students in the principles and truths of the Catholic faith.’ … One such element of the Catholic faith that Ave Maria holds and professes concerns the sanctity of life. Ave Maria ‘believes that each human being bears the image and likeness of God, and therefore any abortion – including through post-conception contraception – ends a human life and is a grave sin. Ave Maria also believes that sterilization and the use of contraception are morally wrong.’”
As it provides health coverage for workers, the problem arose with the adoption in 2010 of Obamacare, which demands “minimum essential coverage,” which it defines as including contraceptives.
The judge noted the 2013 “rule” allowing insurance companies to directly provide the benefits is not a satisfactory solution to objectors such as Ave Maria.
The Becket Fund has reported some 90 percent of all courts making related decisions have protected religious ministries from the heavy hand of a government.
“After dozens of court rulings, the government still doesn’t seem to get that it can’t force faith institutions to violate their beliefs,” Baxter said. “Fortunately, the courts continue to see through the government’s attempts to disguise the mandate’s religious coercion.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom, which has been active beside Becket in the dozens of cases against Obamacare, said there’s a close watch on the dispute.
Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman said: “Faith-based educational institutions should be free to live and operate according to the faith they teach and espouse. The court was right to uphold the religious freedom of institutions that value the sanctity of life. If the government can force Ave Maria School of Law to violate its faith in order to exist, then the government can do the same or worse to others.”
The Supreme Court has stepped in several times to suspend enforcement of the mandate provisions against a number of organizations.
WND reported on the summer’s 5-4 decision that a “closely held” for-profit business can opt out of Obamacare’s universal contraception requirement based on religious objections.
The case brought by Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma-based arts and crafts chain with about 13,000 employees, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a Pennsylvania cabinet maker, challenged the Affordable Health Care Act requirement that employees provide free contraception coverage, including abortion-inducing drugs.
Hobby Lobby’s argument was based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, which protects the individual beliefs of citizens.
The majority opinion by Justice Samuel Alito dismissed the Department of Health and Human Services argument that the companies cannot sue because they are for-profit corporations and that the owners cannot sue because the regulations apply only to the companies. Alito said that “would leave merchants with a difficult choice: give up the right to seek judicial protection of their religious liberty or forgo the benefits of operating as corporations.”
The opinion said the RFRA’s text “shows that Congress designed the statute to provide very broad protection for religious liberty and did not intend to put merchants to such a choice.”
Alito said “the purpose of extending rights to corporations is to protect the rights of people associated with the corporation, including shareholders, officers, and employees.”
“Protecting the free-exercise rights of closely held corporations thus protects the religious liberty of humans who own and control them.”
The question presented in the case was whether any law, such as a nationwide health-care management system imposed by the government, can be so important that Washington can order people to violate their religious faith, in contradiction to the freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment.
The religious objections to the contraception mandate raised by the Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby, and the Hahn family, owners of Conestoga Wood, have been raised in nearly 90 other cases.
Obamacare’s demands align with Obama’s longstanding support for abortion under any circumstances. He even argued, while a state senator in Illinois, against requiring doctors to provide live-saving help to babies who survive abortions.
A number of other cases challenge Obamacare on additional allegations of unconstitutionality.
In one, attorneys for Matt Sissel – a small-business owner who wants to pay medical expenses on his own and has financial, philosophical and constitutional objections to being ordered to purchase a health plan he does not need or want – charge the Obamacare bill was unconstitutionally launched in the U.S. Senate and is therefore invalid.
They noted that the Constitution requires all tax bills in Congress to begin in the House of Representatives. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., they said, manipulated the legislation by taking the bill number for an innocuous veterans housing program that had been approved by the House, pasting it on the front of thousands of Obamacare pages and voting on it.
That means, they argued, that the entire law was adopted unconstitutionally and should be canceled, including its $800 billion in taxes.
The argument essentially makes the Constitution a silver bullet to kill Obamacare.
The case, brought by the Pacific Legal Foundation, is based on the Constitution’s Origination Clause.