WASHINGTON, DC (CNSNews.com) – (CATHOLIC ONLINE EDITORS NOTE:We are happy to report that Terry Jeffrey just posted an update to his original story entitled “Judge Temporarily Stops Administration from Forcing Christian Family to Act Against Faith” Terry reports that “U.S. District Judge John L. Kane issued an injunction Friday that temporarily prohibits the Obama administration from forcing a Christian family in Colorado to act against its faith in the way it operates its heating, ventilation and air-conditioning business”.
“The injunction spares the family from complying with an Obamacare regulation while the judge decides on its merits the lawsuit the family has brought contending the regulation violates their First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion.”)
By Terence P. Jeffrey
The Justice Department last week presented the Newland family of Colorado–who own Hercules Industries, a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning business–with what amounted to an ultimatum: Give up your religion or your business.
“Hercules Industries has ‘made no showing of a religious belief which requires that [it] engage in the [HVAC] business,” the Justice Department said in a formal filing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.
In response to the Justice Department’s argument that the Newlands can either give up practicing their religion or give up owning their business, the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the family, said in a reply brief: “[T]o the extent the government is arguing that its Mandate does not really burden the Newlands because they are free to abandon their jobs, their livelihoods, and their property so that others can take over Hercules and comply, this expulsion from business would be an extreme form of government burden.”
Now that the Supreme Court has upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and its mandate that individuals must buy health insurance, this suit which seeks to protect a small business from being forced to take actions that violate the moral and religious beliefs of the family that owns it is likely to be the next major court battle over Obamacare.
At stake is whether businesses are protected by the First Amendment-the part of the Bill of Rights that guarantees not only the free exercise of religion but also freedom of speech and of the press.
The Justice Department’s filing was made in Newland v. Sebelius – a suit brought by William, Paul and James Newland, and their sister, Christine Ketterhagen, who are Roman Catholics, and who together own Colorado-based Hercules Industries. The Newland family founded Hercules in 1962 and have maintained it as a family-owned business ever since-growing it to the point where they now employ 265 people.
The Newlands’ lawsuit challenges a regulation that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius finalized earlier this year that requires virtually all health plans to cover–without cost-sharing–sterilizations and all Food-and-Drug Administration approved contraceptives, including those that induce abortions. Read more.