The HHS contraceptive-abortifacient mandate lost another round last week.
“This is a significant victory for protecting the religious beliefs of individuals and corporations,” said Edward White, Senior Counsel of the ACLJ who is representing a family-run business in Illinois. In a 2-1 decision issued Friday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the court reversed the federal district court’s denial of a motion for a preliminary injunction and remanded the case for the district court to enter the preliminary injunction.
What is most encouraging about the decision is the reasoning expressed in the majority opinion. The judges think the HHS mandate is ultimately going to be trumped by the right of religious freedom:
We hold that the plaintiffs – the business owners and their companies – may challenge the mandate. We further hold that compelling them to cover these services substantially burdens their religious exercise rights. Under RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) the government must justify the burden under the standard of strict scrutiny. So far it has not done so, and we doubt that it can. Because the RFRA claims are very likely to succeed and the balance of harms favors protecting the religious-liberty rights of the plaintiffs, we reverse and remand with instructions to enter preliminary injunctions.
This decision comes just days after the ACLJ filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, posted here, in the case of Gilardi v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services which I wrote about here.