Triune Health Group, Ltd., 'Number One Place for Women to Work' in Metro Chicago, Moves for a Federal Court Stay Enforcement vs. Obamacare
Contact: Tom Ciesielka, 312-422-1333, [email protected]
CHICAGO, Nov. 30, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- On the heels of an order issued late Wednesday afternoon by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, staying the Government's enforcement of the so-called "HHS Mandate" against private employer O'Brien Industrial Holding of St. Louis, the Thomas More Society of Chicago and the Jubilee Campaign's Law of Life Project have also filed in the Federal District Court in Chicago for a similar stay and for rejecting the Government's motion to dismiss the Triune Health Group's lawsuit, which has been pending here since last August.
To date, of the five cases to reach the merits of the plaintiffs' requests for a preliminary injunction against the HHS mandate for group insurance coverage of abortifacients, sterilization, and contraception, injunctions were issued in four of them and denied in the fifth case, but in that fifth case the denial of relief had been based on the reasoning of the lower court in the O'Brien case in St. Louis -- reasoning now called into question by the decision of the 8th Circuit, holding that a preliminary injunction should have been granted in the O'Brien case, as in all the others.
In its motion, Triune is asking the Court to stay (i.e., suspend) enforcement of the HHS Mandate against the company and its owners, Chris and Mary Anne Yep, and for related additional relief.
Triune is a privately owned, closely held company in Oak Brook, Illinois owned and operated by Chris and Mary Anne Yep. Devout Roman Catholics, the Yeps were able to purchase what their motion calls "conscience compliant" coverage in the past, for their 80 or so employees. When the Yeps recently discovered that under both Illinois law and the HHS Mandate they could no longer do so without facing ruinous fines that could force them out of business, they filed suit.
The Triune Health Group's lawsuit named as defendants the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services ("HHS"), among others. Triune has won repeated public recognition by Crain's Chicago Business for its employee-friendly workplace. In 2012, Crain's also named Triune "The Number One Place for Women to Work." Some 78% of Triune’s employees are women.
Triune receives these repeated accolades, it contends, because of, and not despite, the Yeps' religious convictions that, at Triune, "[e]ach employee is respected, treated fairly, receives a just wage, and enjoys accident and health benefits that allow our employees to live lives consistent with their individual human dignity" -- a conviction the Yeps also reaffirm in their Federal court filing.
The Government seeks to dismiss Triune's complaint. According to the Government, the burden of complying with the HHS Mandate will not fall on the Yeps who are merely seeking, according to the Government, to force their own religious views upon their employees. The Yeps vehemently deny any such motive, insisting they do not seek to enforce their religious views on anyone, including their employees or their clientele. On the contrary, the Yeps and Triune contend in their papers that they seek only to conduct their business in a manner consistent with their Roman Catholic faith, and not to be required to participate, even indirectly, in conduct that their faith teaches to be "inherently evil, gravely wrongful, and sinful."
According to the Triune filing, to date the federal Government has already exempted some 191 million people from complying with the HHS Mandate, either because of others' religious objections or for other reasons. Against that backdrop, the Yeps argue, forcing businesses like theirs to comply seems directed more at their Roman Catholic faith than aimed at fulfilling any "compelling" government interest.
With a January 1, 2013 deadline for compliance looming, the Yeps and Triune are asking the Court to enjoin the application of the mandate against them. "The historic right of ordinary citizens to appeal to the Courts for protection from the enforcement of a statute which, we believe, severely violates the First Amendment right of closely held business owners to manage their business according to the dictates of their own deeply held religion beliefs, will be an empty one if, while the case is pending, the Government can move to impose ruinous penalties on the Yeps," said Tom Brejcha of the Thomas More Society, one of Triune's counsel.
In analogous cases, numerous federal courts have held that the religious views of the owners of closely held companies are entitled to First Amendment rights of free exercise of their religion, and in those cases the courts have enjoined the Government from enforcing the mandate altogether. Thus in St. Louis just two days ago, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals enjoined the Government from proceeding against plaintiffs there, pending a full determination of the appeal next year.
"The Yeps seek exactly the relief here as federal courts are granting in analogous cases in other Circuits," said Brejcha. "How can anyone seeking the Courts' protection ever obtain that relief, if the Government defendant can destroy your business while the Court is trying to figure out what to do?"
Copies of the court filing are available upon request.
About the Thomas More Society
Founded in 1997, the Chicago-based Thomas More Society is a national public interest law firm that seeks to restore respect in law for life, marriage, and religious liberty. The Society is a nonprofit organization wholly supported by private donations. For more information or to support the work of Thomas More Society, please visit www.thomasmoresociety.org.