Judges weigh religious exemption for health law

Contraceptive mandate in health care law violates some business owners' religious views.
Associated Press
Sep 24, 2013

A federal appeals court is considering whether for-profit businesses can be exempted from a contraceptive mandate in the health care law because of the owners' religious views.

The law already exempts houses of worship from the requirement, but two brothers who own businesses in Ohio argue they shouldn't have to comply. The brothers, Francis and Philip M. Gilardi, say the requirement would force them to violate their Roman Catholic religious beliefs and moral values by providing contraceptives such as the Plan B pill for their employees.

At a hearing on Tuesday, Judge Harry T. Edwards was skeptical of the Gilardis' argument. He told their lawyer, Francis Manion, that sometimes religious freedom has to yield to the greater good. Edwards stressed that the Giraldis' companies, Freshway Foods and Freshway Logistics of Sidney, Ohio, are not religious groups.

"I don't know see how the government doesn't prevail," said Edwards, who was appointed by President Jimmy Carter.

The other two judges on the panel didn't indicate how they are leaning in the argument, but they had more pointed questions for Justice Department lawyer Alisa Klein than they did for Manion.

Judge Janice Rogers Brown, an appointee of President George W. Bush, asked Klein whether the government is asking the Giraldis to give up their constitutional rights. Klein responded that the Giraldis weren't making a constitutional claim, but rather seeking an injunction under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Brown asked Klein whether she's saying that for religiously observant owners of corporations there is no right to free exercise of religion.

"There is no substantial burden on shareholders," Klein responded, adding that it is the corporation that has to meet the obligation.

In dismissing the Giraldis' bid for an injunction, trial court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan had rejected their contention that requiring the companies to comply with the contraceptive mandate was the same as requiring the Giraldis themselves to do so.

"The Freshway Corporations are engaged in purely commercial conduct and do not exercise religion" under the applicable law, Sullivan wrote.

In court papers, the Giraldis argued that corporations can and often do engage in "quintessentially religious acts such as tithing, donating money to charities, and committing to act in accordance with the teachings of a religious faith," as they contended their businesses do. They say they face more than $14.4 million in annual penalties if they don't comply with the contraceptive mandate.

A separate appeals court panel has barred the government from enforcing the mandate against the Giraldis while they appeal their case.

The case comes as two other appeals court circuits have issued conflicting rulings in similar cases. The Obama administration has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a case involving the Hobby Lobby craft store chain and its sister company, Mardel Christian bookstore. The Oklahoma businesses won a temporary exemption from having to cover morning-after pills, similar emergency birth control methods and intrauterine devices, after the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the companies were likely to prevail in the case.

But the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Mennonite owners of a Pennsylvania furniture manufacturing company who claimed that their constitutional rights were violated by the contraceptive requirement.



The problem with your theory is the cons receive the most cash and prizes!


Re: "cons receive the most cash and prizes!"

Again with the nonsense: So ONLY "cons" are wealthy???

And be sure to give a big thanks to "The Bernank" for his easy money policies with a big endorsement from Pres. Obama!

The rich are getting richer.


On the other hand, be sure to thank "the Bernank" for buying so many U.S. Treasuries which help to pay for all the liberal "cash and prizes."

It's you who is being "conned" :)


You have it all wrong. Me forcing my religious view on you means I tell you that you CAN'T use contraceptives. In this case, it's just the opposite: You're forcing ME to FACILITATE contraceptives.

You want conservatives to stay out of people's private lives/bedrooms? I completely agree with that. So then why are you not just inviting me in, but FORCING me in and demanding I pay admission, eh?

The Big Dog's back

It's part of a woman's healthcare. You right wingers always want things both ways. Women are going to have unprotected sex. FACT! Why not pay less than a penny to prevent pregnancies"

Dr. Information

birth control pills are not a part of women's healthcare at all. Its an option for many women that they can either take or not take. Forcing someone to pay for something they do not believe in is wrong.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

If I were of the persuasion to do so couldn't I claim some kind of religious affiliation to legally avoid the individual mandate?

Kind of, at least according to this article: http://www.washingtontimes.com/n...

I believe we will see a continual rise in groups somewhat like the Samaritan ones only without necessarily needing the religious aspect. "Parlor medicine" I think it's called? The practice where a doctor takes on X patients for one yearly Y payment and administers unlimited general services and referrals to them any time they are needed throughout the year.

But in answering my own question I saw this interesting tidbit from a Forbes article actually saying that the individual mandate is weak:

= = = = = = = = = =

4. The IRS can’t go after you if you don’t pay the fine

Section 1501(g)(2) of the Affordable Care Act specifies that the IRS cannot subject taxpayers to “any criminal prosecution or penalty” for refusing to pay the mandate fine. Also, in contrast to normal tax levies, the IRS cannot “file notice of lien with respect to any property of a taxpayer by reason of any failure to pay the penalty imposed by this section.”

Basically, the only thing the IRS can do to make you pay the mandate fine is to take it out of your withholding, or withhold it from your tax refund, if you’re due one. So if you don’t participate in the withholding process, the IRS has no way to collect the mandate fine.

= = = = = = = = = =



A friend of mine who is a pediatrician in Portland, Oregon already practices the so called "parlor medicine". In fact he doesn't even accept insurance of any kind. Pt essentially pay a yearly subscription fee that covers general medical care in the office. He also offers affordable plans that will cover his fee if the patient is hospitalized and requires inpatient care from him. He had so many customers in the first 6 mos he was open that he has since had to triple the size of his building and bring on more doctors and staff. He now has the one of the most successful pediatric practices in the state. There is certainly money to be made if you cut out the middle man, meaning insurance companies and the government plans. He is able to provide his services to his patients for less than the cost of a yearly insurance plan and the care as guided between the physician and patient not by an insurance company or a bureaucrat.

Licorice Schtick

How is that different from an HMO? It sounds pretty similar.

Señor Clown

The way I see it (and I'll offer the standard disclaimer that I'm only vaguely familiar with the issue at hand) it seems that the people that are making a big deal about this are missing the point. You as an employer are required to make health care / health insurance available to your employees. You as an employer should have as much say in how a beneficiary utilizes their health care insurance benefit as you would in how they spend their vacation, what they buy with their paycheck, and whether they should prefer Coke or Pepsi. I don't see this being too far removed from an exaggerated example of an employer refusing to provide lunch breaks for employees that choose to eat pork, because the company's religious convictions forbid eating the flesh of an unclean animal.

Señor Clown

On second thought, it's apparent now after looking at the Freshway Foods product catalog that they carry a salad kit with bacon bits, meaning that Freshway Foods and Freshway Logistics give no regard to having employees to handle the meat or carcass of an unclean beast as defined and forbidden by Leviticus 11. Sort of makes my exaggerated example a little less absurd.

Licorice Schtick

Not absurd at all. If you object to pork, should you be able to prohibit you employees from spending their paychecks on pork? The employer pretends to defend religious freedom, but if he has his way, it's worse.


Agree w/Licorice 100%. One's beliefs, religious or otherwise, do not allow one to make choices for other people.


Re: "One's beliefs, religious or otherwise, do not allow one to make choices for other people."

So should insurance pay for FGM?


Licorice Schtick

Not if it's illegal.

Contango weighs in again, this time with an ad absurdum argument AND changing the subject at the same time. Clever. But why no name-calling?


Re: "Not if it's illegal."

Who decides that it's illegal?


By your own logic it nullify's your stance. You believe others should pay for you, This is a belief and should be not allowed to make choices to force others to pay for you. Unless you are a hypocrite (Which most of the Obama congregation is) Your logic has failed.


Re: "spending their paychecks on pork?"


Who are the employers that have grocery insurance?

Better not give the Progressive Nutball-in-Chief any ideas huh?

Licorice Schtick

Oh. Shoulda known you'd get around to the name-calling.


Re: "Oh."


Licorice Schtick

...said the Prince of Change-the-subject. So off-topic is your exclusive domain, hypocrite?


Re: "said..."

The topic is insurance. YOU brought up the absurdity about ees spending their paychecks on pork.

Answer the question and quit deflecting:

Who are the employers that have grocery insurance?


No, but as an employer you should have say over what you spend YOUR money on. In other words, if I don't want to spend MY money on a plan that covers an employees birth control, then I shouldn't have to. If the employee wants to spend THEIR earned income on birth control then have it.

Licorice Schtick

This may come as a shock to employers used to pushing "their people" around, but once you've paid, it's not your money any more.


Re: "you've paid, it's not your money any more."



That's right Licorice!

Don S

I bet these same Roman Catholic men would stand behind the sales of Viagra for men, as long, as the men would not be responsible for the pregnancy !!!

Stop It

""I don't know see how the government doesn't prevail," said Edwards, who was appointed by President Jimmy Carter."

I don't see how gov't goes against the will of the people, either. STFU and eat it, pal. there will be more to come. Not all of us are religious fanatics, but some of us are really tired of gov't prevailing.

Licorice Schtick

So.... You don't care if We the People are right or wrong, you just hate our government and want us to loose?


An employer should not be able to decide which health services an employee should receive, Roman Catholic or not. They either provide health care or not. What next, your employer decides whether or not you get a blood transfusion because of his religious beliefs? Leave health care to the health care professionals.


No one is suggesting that employers should decide what services their employees receive. But should the employer have to PAY for the contraceptives? Do you understand that employers are paying the largest share of the insurance costs? But good point about blood tranfusions. What if that's against their religious beliefs? Can they demand that the policy they provide not cover that? I don't like Obamacare, but I think this guy is wrong given it is law.