In the first post-Hobby Lobby decision issued by an appellate court, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has granted an injunction, halting the HHS Mandate, to a nonprofit religious organization.
The key aspect of this new decision is that the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision was confined to for-profit businesses; this decision is the first application of the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding religious liberty to cases involving nonprofits. It marks another step towards the abortion-pill mandate’s defeat.
The injunction was granted to the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), a nonprofit global Catholic news network.
While the majority simply grants the injunction “[i]n light to today’s Supreme Court decision in [Hobby Lobby],” without expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, Judge Pryor’s concurrence provides some insight:
Judge Pryor explains:
The Network has asserted, without dispute, that it "is prohibited by its religion from signing, submitting, or facilitating the transfer of the government required certification" necessary to opt out of the mandate. The Network further asserts that, by requiring it to deliver Form 700 to the third-party administrator of its health insurance plan, the United States has forced the Network "to forego religious precepts" and instead, contrary to Catholic teachings, materially cooperate in evil. If it fails to deliver that form, the Network faces $12,775,000 in penalties a year. 26 U.S.C. § 4980D(b )( 1 ). If that is not a substantial burden on the free exercise of religion, then it is hard to imagine what would be.
As we have explained before President Obama’s “accommodation” offered to nonprofits is a sham – an accounting gimmick to appear as though a nonprofit is not forced to pay for abortion pills, when in reality it is no less coerced into violating its faith than for-profit businesses were.
The victories for religious liberty keep coming, but the fight is far from over. We will continue to keep you updated and continue fighting to defeat the abortion-pill mandate from forcing any American to violate their faith.
Matthew Clark is Associate Counsel for Government Affairs and Media Advocacy with the ACLJ. A lifelong citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia, he lives with his wife and three boys in Northern Virginia. Follow Matthew Clark: @_MatthewClark.