A U.S. District Court judge in Missouri has issued an injunction against the HHS in the case of a St Louis family-run business, ordering the HHS to not enforce the HHS mandate against the company. American Pulverizer is run by Paul and Henry Griesedeick, Evangelical Christians, and employs about 150 people. They are represented by the American Center for Law and Justice. Because their employee health insurance plan must be renewed in January, they face fines from the HHS if they do not comply with the mandate, starting in January.
The district court judge relied heavily on a similar case, O’Brien vs. U.S. Dept of HHS, in which the court issued an injunction.
There are a few interesting things in this case. First, the ACLU filed an amicus brief on behalf of the government. If you still had any idealistic thoughts that the ACLU actually fought for the civil liberties of Americans, this fact should resolve those fantasies quickly. Second, the current insurance plan of American Pulverizer employees does pay for contraception. The court didn’t consider that as particularly important. Finally, the court made an interesting observation about the religious freedom of individuals and corporations. From the ruling:
The Court notes that Defendants argue that Plaintiffs cannot show that the ACA substantially burdens any exercise of religion as the Griesedieck Companies are secular entities and, thus, cannot “exercise religion” under the RFRA. As stated in Newland v. Sebelius, 12-1123 (D.Co. July 27,2012), which dealt with an issue similar to that presented before the Court, this “argument pose[s]difficult questions of first impression. Can a corporation exercise religion? . . . Is it possible to‘pierce the veil’ and disregard the corporate form in this context?” The Court further notes that there are many entities under which an individual can run a business, i.e. a corporation, partnership, LLC,closely-held subchapter-s corporation, or sole proprietorship. Does an individual’s choice to run his business as one of these entities strip that individual of his right to exercise his religious beliefs? Accordingly, the Court finds that, at the least, Plaintiffs have indicated that this question merits “deliberate investigation.”
Does an individual’s choice to run his business as one of these entities strip that individual of his right to exercise his religious beliefs?