Lawyers File Emergency Motion to Stop Mandate

In an effort to prevent the Department of Health and Human Services’ birth control mandate from going into effect on August 1, the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) has filed an emergency motion asking a federal district judge to stop the rule that would force most employers to cover birth control in their employee health plan with no co-pay.

According to a press release from the TMLC, the motion was filed on Wednesday afternoon with Federal District Judge Robert Cleland of the Eastern District of Michigan on behalf of Legatus, a Catholic business organization founded in 1987 by Tom Monaghan, former owner of Domino’s Pizza, Legatus member Daniel Weingartz of Weingartz Supply Co.

“We have asked Judge Cleland to set a court hearing on our motion for the earliest possible time to prevent immediate injury to our clients’ right of conscience. Without the court’s intervention, the HHS mandate effectively penalizes their free exercise of religion,” said Erin Mersino, the lead counsel in the lawsuit.

A lawsuit was filed on behalf of Legatus and Weingartz on May 6, 2012 with the intent to permanently block the implementation of the HHS Mandate which requires employers and individuals to obtain insurance coverage for abortions and contraception on the grounds that it imposes clear violations of conscience on Americans who morally object to abortion and contraception.

The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the HHS Mandate under the First Amendment rights to the Free Exercise of Religion and Free Speech and the Establishment Clause.   It also claims that the HHS Mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and the Administrative Procedure Act.

Although the president gave a one-year extension to certain religious employers, businesses owned by Christians who oppose contraception “have no safe harbor and no exemption within the law,” Mersino told Politico, which is why they filed the emergency motion “to alert the court there is an imminent danger.”

The motion for a temporary restraining order focuses on violations of the Plaintiffs’ rights guaranteed by the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center commented, “The Obama administration deliberately declared war on the Catholic Church by promulgating the HHS Mandate. And contrary to what they want you to believe, this case is not about contraception.  It is about the religious freedom of Christians, in this case Catholics, to peaceably practice their faith free from government coercion. If the government succeeds in this case, the religious freedom of all Christians is in danger.”

Judge Cleland has scheduled a conference on the case for today and could schedule a hearing at that time.

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