Three family businesses were in court this week asking federal judges for relief from a coercive Obamacare mandate that forces employers to provide and pay for coverage of abortion-inducing drugs and contraception—regardless of moral or religious objection.
The Green family, which runs the arts-and-crafts company Hobby Lobby, was represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty at a full-court hearing of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday. The family business, which employs over 22,000 individuals in 41 states, will be forced to provide and pay for coverage of abortion-inducing drugs or face up to $1.3 million in fines per day.
“The conflict for me,” explains David Green, founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby, “is that our family is being forced to choose between following the laws of the country that we love or maintaining the religious beliefs that have made our business successful and have supported our family and thousands of our employees and their families.”
Hobby Lobby’s arguments at the 10th Circuit came just one day after two other family businesses were represented at the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Both companies asked the court to lift the coercive mandate’s burden on their free exercise of religion by awarding a permanent halt to the mandate for each company.
Cyril and Jane Korte’s Illinois company, Korte and Luitjohan Contractors, was represented by the American Center for Law and Justice. Their family business could face federal penalties of over $730,000 annually for not complying with the mandate.
In exercising its newfound authority over health care through the overreaching arm of Obamacare, the Administration has run roughshod over many employers’ religious liberty, explicitly denying for-profit companies any protection from the Obamacare mandate.
The Kortes were joined in court by the Grote family, which owns the Indiana-based vehicle lighting manufacturer Grote Industries and employs over 1,400 individuals throughout its various locations. The Grotes want to continue offering their employees a generous health care plan without violating their faith. Yet under the mandate, their only options are devastating federal fines for resisting the mandate or dropping health insurance altogether—which would harm their employees.
“Forcing them to surrender their faith in order to earn a living is unprecedented, unnecessary, and unconstitutional. The administration’s attacks on faith and business prove that it doesn’t respect either one,” explains Mike Wilkins, an allied attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the Grote family.
Over the next few weeks, two more family businesses will be in federal courts seeking relief from the mandate. Already, 19 of 26 plaintiffs who have had rulings touching on the merits of their cases have been awarded stays against the coercive rule. In total, more than 190 plaintiffs are involved in over 50 cases.
But even if the mandate is rescinded or thrown out by a court, the government will retain the authority through other parts of Obamacare to coerce insurance companies and employers and trample on individuals’ constitutional freedoms by imposing additional objectionable mandates.
Employees and individuals should be able to choose health care that best fits the needs of their families and respects their freedom. Employers should be able to build and grow job-creating businesses in accordance with their values without threat of government penalties. The first step on the road to regaining that freedom is rescinding the Obamacare anti-conscience mandate—and protecting Americans’ liberties more generally will require full repeal of Obamacare.
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