Victories Against HHS Mandate Multiply
By Hadley Heath
While the focus of ObamaCare opposition has largely been on Congressional budget negotiations, progress continues in various lawsuits.
Most recently, plaintiffs in Briscoe v. Sebelius won a court order, restraining the federal government from collecting penalties from Stephen Briscoe, an Evangelical Christian businessman who objects to the abortifacient drugs included in the HHS mandate. Alliance Defending Freedom is litigating the case, and said in a statement:
“Every American, including business owners, should be free to live and do business according to their faith. For the time being, Stephen Briscoe will be able to do just that,” said Senior Counsel Michael J. Norton, a former U.S. attorney. “The cost of freedom for this businessman could be millions of dollars per year in fines that will cripple his businesses if the Obama administration ultimately has its way. This lawsuit ensures that Washington bureaucrats cannot force families to abandon their faith just to earn a living.”
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys obtained the order against the mandate on behalf of Stephen W. Briscoe, the owner of several senior citizen facilities. Briscoe is an evangelical Christian who specifically objects to being forced to provide coverage for abortifacients. The administration opposed the order, arguing, contrary to the U.S. Constitution, that people of faith forfeit their religious liberty once they engage in business. The mandate could subject Briscoe to more than $5 million in fines per year if he does not abide by its requirements.
According to The Becket Fund, the recent victory in Briscoe is part of a trend. To date, 37 lawsuits have been filed by similiar for-profit plaintiffs, and 29 have received injunctive relief. Only 5 of the for-profit plaintiffs have been denied injunctive relief.
Progress is slower in cases filed by non-profit plaintiffs. Non-profit plaintiffs have filed 30 lawsuits, but only one (Geneva College) has been granted an injunction. Most of the cases led by non-profit plaintiffs are dealing with procedural issues, dismissals, or delays.