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 Big Dog's back

You don't want Gov to mandate the law to you but you want to mandate your beliefs on women. Typical religious hypocrites.


How would they be mandating their beliefs on women? They just do not believe in providing birth control, they are not stopping the women from purchasing their own!

From the Grave

This is not a story about religion, but a story about how we will slowly continue to lose our freedoms, until the day we are 6 feet under the ground. That's what happens when you expect a government to take care of you. They end up owning you.

Licorice Schtick

This is just politics. The courts will contradict one another until it's settled in the Supreme Court, which may be never.

Dr. Information

One valid point that you cannot argue with. Its amazing how the same people who voted in Obamacare (Dems) have exempted themselves, yet wont exempt Catholic related institutions from something they have been practicing for decades. It makes no sense and is 100% hypocritical.

Birth control cost is somewhere around 15-20 dollars a month out of pocket with no coverage. Its CHEAP!


If an employer wishes to not use contraceptives themselves, I don't have a problem with that. However, they shouldn't force their personal religious beliefs on their employees by refusing to offer contraceptives through the workplace as per the ACA mandate.


Ok then where is the mandate for Viagra? Where does this sh-- end and people start to take some personal responsibility. You want women to have choice then give it to them. If they want to play then play on your own time not the employers.

Simple Enough II

I agree with that.

The Big Dog's back

Viagra and contraceptives are 2 different things entirely moroon.


Nah. Obamacare is the law, so it's clearly overstepping if an employer's religious views become part of the equation. For an employer to think he/she can force their religious views on employees is more than a tad arrogant. Basically, it says, my views are more important than yours. If it's a job-related issue, that makes sense, but religion and contraception are not workplace issues.

When, oh when, will conservatives realize they really need to stay out of people's private lives/bedrooms? And you guys wonder why you keep losing elections? It's not because of your candidates, it's because of your beliefs, which frankly, are offensive to a growing majority of Americans.


"conservatives realize they really need to stay out of people's private lives/bedrooms"

Yep, most do, and most are taxed to pay for others bedroom play as well, a little strange!

Licorice Schtick

Nah, it isn't REALLY about the cost, because preventing unwanted births saves tax dollars. It's really about power, imposing their beliefs on others, and as they pursue that, no argument is too lame.

It is the position of the Catholic Church that 1) the government answers to God, and 2) the Church universally represents God. Which of course makes the United States of America a subordinate to the Vatican.

Obviously, you can't have 1) AND 2) and still have freedom of religion. All universalist religions want to take away your religious freedom, whether they admit it or not. At least the Catholic Church wants to do it peacefully.


It’s sad, yet comical in a way. Atheist commentators, alienated from the life of God, purport to understand the Christian mind and the teachings of Christ. Falsely attributing one reason or another, for the business owners desire to act in accordance with the teachings of his/her religious faith.


Think Again: My wife is an atheist, and as a result I've gotten to know a lot of other atheists. They are everywhere, and are the largest growing type of religious affiliation in America. They are also the least likely minority group to "come out" because of the stigma, but when only 1/3 of Americans go to church each week, clearly their numbers are a lot higher than anyone would expect.

Most atheists that I know are former Christians, and in their journey to atheism, have read more of the Bible and more about faith than most Christians have, and asked the questions about faith that most Christians would not dare ask, lest they realize they don't really believe either. They point out that believers don't really believe, otherwise, they wouldn't look both ways before they cross the street. They notice that when the Solid Rock Church in Cincinnati recently replaced their huge Jesus statue (previously torched via lightning), the new edition has a lightning rod on top; they think that is an amusing lack of faith.

Again, no one is saying business owners can't make choices for their OWN lives. It's when they attempt to make choices or DENY choices for other people that we have a problem. Do you see the difference?


There is no such thing as a person who “used to be a Christian”, the second birth is as irreversible as the physical birth.

Sitting in a garage doesn't make you a car and sitting in church doesn't make you a Christian. And if you are familiar with my past comments, you know I am the first to admit that not all who claim to be Christian are truly so.

Nobody's rights are being violated because their employer won't provide a service. Nobody is forcing their beliefs on their employees... they are simply standing by their beliefs.

Were they to succumb to the pressure to act against the teachings of their faith, wouldn’t you and others think they were hypocrites? Like you did because we look both ways before crossing the street?

Horace Mann

You state dogma as fact, but it's only your belief. Why do you disrespect the right of others to believe differently?

And rights are a matter of law. If the law says an employer must provide something and he doesn't, then the employees rights are violated. YouSaySo doesn't make it otherwise.


Re: "If the law says an employer must provide something and he doesn't, then the employees rights are violated."

Reads like an argument for legal equivalency.

The Nazis legally required employers to fire Jews. OK with you since it was "legal"?

Licorice Schtick

Of course not. Different, Illegitimate government, different system, draconian abuses of rights, no constitutional protections. Or are you saying that the Third Reich was just as legitimate as our government?

Changing the subject AND an ad absurdum argument. Typical.


Re: "Illegitimate government,"

Nope. Chancellor Hitler was duly elected and the Nazis Party controlled the Reichstag.

The vast majority of Germans thought that they were free, not unlike some of the wrongheaded in this country.

Critical thinking not part of your academic curriculum eh?

BTW: It's "reductio ad absurdum" and it does not apply.

Licorice Schtick

There you have, folks. Contango says Hitler's Third Reich was legitimate.


Re: "legitimate."


However; were established parliamentary means used to elect the regime?

Was Obama☭are rammed down the throats of Americans using Congressional and Executive procedures?

The Big Dog's back

You started the off topic pooh.


Re: "You started"

Off-topic, dunce.

Licorice Schtick

Wow. Everyone who disagrees with you is an atheist? I don't know what's worse, the absurdity or the libel.

And in one comment your complain about those who would presume to define another's faith and in the next you do it yourself.

You say "forcing their beliefs" is not OK, but that's not concession, because it's not possible. You're free to believe you must impose you faith on others, but you're not free to actually do it. Render unto Caesar, you hypocrite.


Re: "My wife is an atheist,"

Also, (according to you) a school teacher who has her health and welfare benefits (with COLAs) GUARANTEED by OH taxpayers.

As an elitist in a politically protected class, you have little credibility in this debate.


"largest growing type of religious affiliation"

Oxymoron, would you not say? Atheists do not believe in religion.


In this case Coaster, they are not denying choices. They are denying PAYING for those choises. Do YOU see the difference?

The Big Dog's back

Has nothing to do with money. They want to control women. Do YOU see the difference?


Re: "And you guys wonder why you keep losing elections?"

Perhaps if the Repubs promised to hand out a greater quantity of "cash and prizes" than the Dems do you think that it would improve their election results?


: )