After a long multi-year ordeal, the Justice Center is happy to report that a pro-life Christian business owner we represent can declare victory. After facing millions of dollars in federal fines for refusing to facilitate abortions, this Christian business is now protected under a federal judgement that acknowledges the federal government violated the free exercise or religious conscience. Because we prevailed, the government will pay some of the reasonable attorney fees associated with the litigation.
The previous administration enacted the now infamous HHS mandate, forcing businesses to participate in abortions of their employees’ unborn children — or face millions of US dollars in fines.
An Early Court Victory
Early in the case we obtained an injunction prohibiting the federal government from forcing the Christian business owner to participate in the process that results in an abortion of an employee’s unborn son or daughter. The injunction further prohibited the administration from issuing any fine to the owner for asserting his sincerely held religious beliefs.
An Early Rule-making Victory
After the election, the Justice Center argued that the previous administration lacked constitutional authority to promulgate the HHS mandate, and asked the new administration to repeal it. President Trump thereafter promulgated Executive Order No. 13798, “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty.” Section three of this order addressed religious conscience protections concerning the HHS mandate:
The Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate promulgated under section 300gg-13(a)(4) of title 42, United States Code.
The Administration thereafter promulgated new interim final rules permitting organizations and individuals to assert sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions. The new rules concerning the HHS mandate were “consistent with the President’s Executive Order and the Government’s desire to resolve the pending litigation and prevent future litigation from similar plaintiffs.” They also sorted the issues and fixed the unconstitutional mandate … and would have allowed our client to freely exercise his religious conscience in this area.
Judicial Activism and a Set-back
Thereafter, though, an activist federal judge in Pennsylvania blocked implementation of the President’s Executive Order — arrogantly opining that Christian people must participate in the killing of their employees’ unborn children — and that they can face millions in fines.
It is unconscionable that a Christian business owner should face millions of US dollars / year in fines because he will not bow the knee to a government policy the requires him to do something God commands him not to do.
This week the ordeal ended with the Christian businessman under the protection of a judgment where the government acknowledges the HHS mandate violated the free exercise of religious conscience of Christian people.
Prof. William Wagner commended the Justice Center’s lead counsel in this case Erin Mersino.