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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.
 

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  • 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. Indianapolis Bar Association President John Trimble and I are on the same page, but it is a very large page with plenty of room for others to join us. As my final Res Gestae article will express in more detail in a few days, the Great Recession hastened a fundamental and permanent sea change for the global legal service profession. Every state bar is facing the same existential questions that thrust the medical profession into national healthcare reform debates. The bench, bar, and law schools must comprehensively reconsider how we define the practice of law and what it means to access justice. If the three principals of the legal service profession do not recast the vision of their roles and responsibilities soon, the marketplace will dictate those roles and responsibilities without regard for the public interests that the legal profession professes to serve.

  2. I have met some highly placed bureaucrats who vehemently disagree, Mr. Smith. This is not your father's time in America. Some ideas are just too politically incorrect too allow spoken, says those who watch over us for the good of their concept of order.

  3. Lets talk about this without forgetting that Lawyers, too, have FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND ASSOCIATION

  4. Baer filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit on April 30 2015. When will this be decided? How many more appeals does this guy have? Unbelievable this is dragging on like this.

  5. They ruled there is no absolute right to keep a license, whether it be for a lifetime or a short period of time. So with that being said, this state taught me at the age of 15 how to obtain that license. I am actually doing something that I was taught to do, I'm not breaking the law breaking the rules and according to the Interstate Compact the National Interstate Compact...driving while suspended is a minor offense. So, do with that what you will..Indiana sucks when it comes to the driving laws, they really and truly need to reevaluate their priorities and honestly put the good of the community first... I mean, what's more important the pedophile drug dealer or wasting time and money to keep us off the streets?

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