This week the CatholicVote.org Legal Fund filed a first-of-its-kind federal lawsuit against the Obama administration on behalf of a Missouri business owner who claims the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act violates his religious beliefs. This is the first legal challenge to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate from a private business owner and company. Until now only religious institutions or organizations have legally challenged the mandate.
The plaintiffs are Frank R. O’Brien and O’Brien Industrial Holdings, LLC (OIH), a holding company based in St. Louis, Missouri. OIH operates a number of businesses that explore, mine and process refractory and ceramic raw materials.
O’Brien is a Catholic and claims his religious beliefs provide the framework for the operation of his business including a mission to “make our labor a pleasing offering to the Lord while enriching our families and society.”
Lawyers for O’Brien argue the mandate is an over-reach since contraception is widely available.
The lawsuit asks the court to declare that the HHS mandate violates the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act. The suit also requests the court to issue a permanent injunction to halt implementation of the HHS mandate for those who have religious objections.
Now that the first lawsuit has been filed, expect to see more to come and in different federal jurisdictions in order to expedite the possibility of Supreme Court intervention.
Photo from Sweet One/a> via flickr.