ANNARBOR, MI – The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, today announced it has filed an emergency motion asking that Federal District Judge Robert H. Cleland of the Eastern District of Michigan stop the HHS Mandate which goes into effect on August 1, 2012. The motion was filed late yesterday afternoon.
The backdrop for the Law Center’s motion for a Temporary Restraining Order is one of the U.S. Supreme Court’s greatest statements on our fundamental rights recognized by the Bill of Rights: “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”
Thomas More Law Center attorney, Erin Mersino, is the lead counsel in the lawsuit. Joining as co-counsel is Charles LiMandri, the Law Center’s West Coast Regional Director.
Mersino stated, “We have asked Judge Cleland to set a court hearing on our motion for the earliest possible time to prevent immediate injury to our clients’ right of conscience. Without the Court’s intervention, the HHS mandate effectively penalizes their free exercise of religion.”
The Thomas More Law Center filed its federal lawsuit on May 6, 2012 against the Obama administration on behalf of Legatus, the Nation’s largest organization of top Catholic business leaders, and the Ann Arbor-based Weingartz Supply Company, and its president Daniel Weingartz, also a member of Legatus.
The purpose of the lawsuit is to permanently block the implementation of the HHS Mandate which requires employers and individuals to obtain insurance coverage for abortions and contraception on the grounds that it imposes clear violations of conscience on Americans who morally object to abortion and contraception.
The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the HHS Mandate under the First Amendment rights to the Free Exercise of Religion and Free Speech and the Establishment Clause. It also claims that the HHS Mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and the Administrative Procedure Act.
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center commented, “The Obama administration deliberately declared war on the Catholic Church by promulgating the HHS Mandate. And contrary to what they want you to believe, this case is not about contraception. It is about the religious freedom of Christians, in this case Catholics, to peaceably practice their faith free from government coercion. If the government succeeds in this case, the religious freedom of all Christians is in danger.”
The motion for a temporary restraining order focuses on violations of the Plaintiffs’ rights guaranteed by the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.
“Legatus” is the Latin word for “ambassador”, and its members are called upon to become “ambassadors for Christ” in living and sharing their Catholic Faith in their business, professional and personal lives. It currently has over 4,000 members in 73 chapters located in 31 states. It was founded in 1987 by Tom Monaghan, the former owner of Domino’s Pizza, to bring together the three key areas of a Catholic business leader’s life – Faith, Family and Business.
Named as Defendants in the lawsuit are Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the of the Department of Health and Human Services; Hilda Solis, Secretary of the Department of Labor; Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the Department of the Treasury; and their respective departments.