A Federal judge in Colorado’s 10th Circuit Court has granted a preliminary injunction for a local Colorado business and against the Department of Health and Human Services, directing that the HHS not enforce the mandate to include abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization in employee health plans.
Hercules Industries is a small company owned by the Newland family, devout Catholics. They are facing the implementation of the HHS mandate, forcing them to provide morally unacceptable “services” in their employee health plans starting the 1st of August.
The Department of Justice, in arguing against the Newland family in court, held that the Newlands lost their religious freedom when they entered secular business. From the DOJ brief:
Hercules Industries is a for-profit, secular employer, and a secular entity by definition does not practice religion.
Plaintiffs’ challenge rests largely on the theory that a for-profit, secular corporation … can claim to exercise a religion and thereby avoid the reach of laws designed to regulate commercial activity. This cannot be. …“[w]hen followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity.”
Plaintiffs’ free exercise claim fails at the outset because for-profit, secular employers generally do not engage in any exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment.
Having chosen the secular, for-profit path, the company may not impose its owners’ religious beliefs on its employees (many of whom may not share, or even know of, the owners’ beliefs).
The Newland family is represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom. Their news release about this injunction is here.