Another Victory Over Contraception Mandate

The churches, Christian colleges, schools and businesses have been lining up to file legal action to block them from having to violate their Christian faith and principles by implementing the controversial contraception mandate.  And one by one, the courts are agreeing with them.

In the latest victory for religious freedom, Tyndale House Publishers of Carol Stream, IL, won a preliminary injunction against the mandate.  Tyndale is the world’s largest private Christian publishers of Bibles, Christian books and digital media.  In addition to their publishing venture, the company also sends over 95% of its profits to non-profit religious groups from all over the world.

Yet the government attorneys argued on court that Tyndale is not religious enough to qualify for the government specified religious exemption.  To be honest, few organizations can meet the strict government criteria, which seems to have been purposely written that way to prevent anyone from qualifying.

Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman argued the case for Tyndale House Publishers in front of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.  His arguments carried more weight with the court who wrote in part of their decision:

“The beliefs of Tyndale and its owners are indistinguishable…. Christian principles, prayer, and activities are pervasive at Tyndale, and the company’s ownership structure is designed to ensure that it never strays from its faith-oriented mission. The court has no reason to doubt, moreover, that Tyndale’s religious objection to providing insurance coverage for certain contraceptives reflects the beliefs of Tyndale’s owners. Nor is there any dispute that Tyndale’s primary owner, the Foundation, can ‘exercise religion’ in its own right, given that it is a non-profit religious organization; indeed, the case law is replete with examples of such organizations asserting cognizable free exercise and RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] challenges.”

Earlier this month, Judge Robert Cleland of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan granted a temporary injunction against the contraception mandate for Daniel Weingartz’s company, Weingartz Supply.

In that decision, Judge Cleland wrote:

“The loss of First Amendment freedoms, for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury.”

“The harm in delaying the implementation of a statute that may later be deemed constitutional must yield to the risk presented here of substantially infringing the sincere exercise of religious beliefs, the balance of harms tips strongly in Mr. Weingartz’ favor.”

Prior to the Weingartz case, Judge John Kane ruled against the contraception mandate in a case involving a family owned HVAC business known as Hercules Industries.  The Colorado based company is owned by a Catholic family who challenged the mandate claiming that it violated their faith.  What surprised me in this case was the judge is a Democrat who was appointed by Pres. Jimmy Carter.

The more cases like this that are won to protect religious freedom the more others will feel encouraged to challenge the contraception mandate. This could lead to a glut of lawsuits that would overwhelm the court system thus requiring some sort of legal action on the part of Congress or the US Supreme Court to strike down the contraception mandate.