7th Circuit blocks Obamacare ‘contraception mandate’

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Roman Catholic employers – including the owners of an Indiana company – won a Circuit Court ruling Friday blocking the “contraception mandate” contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare.

A split panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed its earlier preliminary injuction in one of the farthest-reaching rulings on an issue that has divided federal circuits and almost certainly will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Friday’s order grants an injunction against enforcement of the mandate that requires employers to provide universal access to birth control.

The panel’s consolidated ruling was granted in two cases, William D. Grote III et al, v. Kathleen Sebelius, et al., 13-1077, and Cyril B. Korte et al. v. Kathleen Sebelius, et al., 12-3841.

Grote Industries, a Madison-based maker of vehicle safety systems, successfully claimed that requiring the company to provide contraception coverage through its self-insured healthcare plan violated its owners’ First Amendment and Fifth Amendment rights and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.

“The plaintiffs are not asking the government to pay for anything. They are asking for relief from a regulatory mandate that coerces them to pay for something – insurance coverage for contraception – on the sincere conviction that doing so violates their religion,” Circuit Judge Diane Sykes wrote in the majority opinion joined by Judge Joel Flaum. “They have made a strong case that RFRA entitles them to that relief.”

Judge Ilana Rovner dissented, writing that the majority’s overreach hypothetically could prevent employees from obtaining embryonic stem-cell therapy; allow Christian Scientist business owners to severely restrict access to medical care based on their beliefs; or deny coverage to same-sex couples even in states that permit such unions, if the corporation’s owners have a religious objection to same-sex marriage. She warned the ruling could open a host of federal regulation to challenges based on the religious beliefs of corporate owners.

Rovner wrote that the majority’s holding “represents a dramatic turn in free exercise jurisprudence” and “bestows a highly personal right to religious exercise on two secular, for-profit corporations that have no facility of thought, conscience or belief. It deems the religious rights of the plaintiffs burdened by the contraception mandate without consideration of the indirect and minimal intrusion on their exercise of religion. And it disregards the extent to which the exemption from the mandate burdens the rights of the plaintiffs’ employees.”

The 7th Circuit majority noted its opinion aligns with a majority holding from the 10th Circuit, but that the 3rd Circuit has ruled in a similar case that “a for-profit, secular corporation cannot engage in the exercise of religion” and its owners have no claim against the contraception mandate. A Federal Circuit ruling held that for-profit corporations may not challenge the law on religious grounds, but that companies organized differently with individual owners may.


  • attorneys please
    So, can the legal paper of record tell us who the attorneys were since the court does not find that important enough to record?

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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.