Federal district court judge grants permanent injunction, protecting Christian businessman from being forced to violate his religious beliefs—or pay crippling fines
You wouldn’t know it from the media, but legal victories for religious liberty continue to pile up, despite a massive war raging across the nation. One of the areas of victory continues to be the push back against Washington’s attempt to force family businesses to violate their religious convictions for the sanctity of human life.
Last week, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia entered a permanent injunction in favor of Joe Holland Chevrolet in its legal challenge to the federal government’s Abortion Pill Mandate. The injunction permanently protects Joe Holland and his business, Joe Holland Chevrolet, a family-owned, faith-based car dealership in South Charleston, West Virginia, from being required to provide abortion-inducing drugs to employees. And, it prevents the federal government from punishing Joe Holland for obeying his conscience.
“The Court’s ruling reaffirms the constitutional principle that every American is free to live and work according to their beliefs, without fear of punishment by their government,” said Jeff Mateer, First Liberty Institute General Counsel. “The government should never coerce faith-based, for-profit businessmen to violate their religious beliefs.”
FORCING BUSINESSMEN TO VIOLATE THEIR CONVICTIONS OR PAY CRIPPLING FINES
In 2013, Joe Holland Chevrolet, represented by First Liberty Institute,the Family Policy Council of West Virginia, and Robinson & McElwee, PLLC, filed a lawsuit against the federal government’s Abortion Pill Mandate.
The mandate, which was issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services after the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as “ObamaCare,” requires organizations to provide coverage of FDA-approved contraceptives, including some abortifacients (drugs that chemically destroy a developing human life), to employees. The mandate applies to organizations with more than fifty employees or those who employ fewer than fifty people but still provide group health insurance. It exempts only churches, church denominations, and church auxiliaries.
That put Joe Holland in a bind. Joe Holland Chevrolet is a family-owned and operated car dealership with over 150 employees. In addition, Joe Holland is committed to running the business in accordance with his Christian faith. For example, the dealership is closed on Sunday, and its website states that the dealership’s purpose is “to glorify and honor God by being faithful stewards for all that is entrusted to us.”
In an affidavit attached to the lawsuit, Holland wrote:
“I am a believing and practicing born-again Christian. I am resolved, as a matter of religious belief, to conduct all aspects of my life, including the management of [Joe] Holland Chevrolet, in accordance with God’s Word. One of my sincerely held religious beliefs is that all innocent human life is sacred to its Creator and that it is profoundly immoral to procure, facilitate, fund, or endorse any form of abortion.”
Yet, without the injunctive relief granted by last week’s ruling, Joe Holland Chevrolet would have faced penalties imposed by the federal government of over $15,000 per day (or more than $5.4 million each year) for failing to provide his employees with abortion-inducing drugs.
DESPITE VICTORIES FOR BUSINESSES, THE FIGHT CONTINUES FOR NON-PROFITS
In last summer’s Burwell v. Hobby Lobby ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the federal government could not force closely-held businesses to comply with the Abortion Pill Mandate against their religious beliefs. Left unresolved by the Hobby Lobby ruling are cases in which the government continues to insist that non-profit religious ministries violate their beliefs in participating in the provision of objectionable contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.
First Liberty Institute’s non-profit clients who are challenging the Abortion Pill Mandate and its so-called “religious accommodation” include:
The largest legal organization solely dedicated to restoring religious liberty in America, First Liberty Institute remains committed to defending the rights of faith-based ministries and religious non-profits—and business owners—so that people of faith are not forced by their government to violate their religious conscience and abandon their sincerely-held religious beliefs.
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About First Liberty Institute
First Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches, in the military and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit www.FirstLiberty.org.