ADF to Supreme Court: Gov’t shouldn’t force Americans to choose between making a living and living free
WASHINGTON — Alliance Defending Freedom and allied attorneys representing a Pennsylvania Mennonite family and its woodworking business filed their opening brief with the U.S. Supreme Court Friday in one of two major legal challenges to the Obama administration’s abortion pill mandate that the high court agreed in November to hear.
“Unjust laws are not valid laws. The government shouldn’t be allowed to punish Americans for exercising their constitutionally protected freedoms,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel David Cortman. “The administration has no business whatsoever forcing citizens to choose between making a living and living free.”
“Job creators don’t give up their fundamental freedoms when they get a business license,” added Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “Every American has a right to fully and freely participate in every area of public life.”
The Hahns are Mennonite Christians in Pennsylvania who asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case, Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit ruled 2-1 against them. The decision conflicts with most other circuits and with the vast majority of rulings on the mandate so far.
The brief filed Friday explains that the Obama administration’s “argument is inconsistent with the reality of religious activity in Americans’ daily lives. There is no separating the Hahns’ faith from their business or its actions. The members of the Hahn family, as Mennonite Christians, practice their faith in everything they do, including the running of their business…. The Mandate…forces them to choose between violating their religious convictions and incurring ruinous fines and lawsuits. No compelling interest justifies imposing such a Hobson’s choice, particularly given the government’s exclusion of thousands of other employers from the Mandate’s scope.”
“If the government can force Americans to violate their deepest, most heartfelt convictions, there’s no stopping what government can do. If freedom of conscience isn’t preserved, then all of our freedoms are in jeopardy,” said co-counsel Randall Wenger, chief counsel of the Independence Law Center.
The mandate could cost the family $95,000 per day if it doesn’t agree to live contrary to its Christian convictions, according to 3rd Circuit Judge Kent Jordan’s dissent in the case. The mandate forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy financial penalties if the mandate’s requirements aren’t met.
Conestoga Wood Specialties owners Norman Hahn, Elizabeth Hahn, Norman Lemar Hahn, Anthony H. Hahn, and Kevin Hahn desire to run their company, a wholesale manufacturer of custom wood cabinet parts, in a manner that reflects their Christian beliefs, including their belief that God requires respect for the sanctity of human life.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys are lead counsel in the case together with co-counsel Wenger of the Independence Law Center and Charles Proctor III of the Pennsylvania firm Proctor, Lindsay & Dixon. They are two of nearly 2,300 attorneys allied with Alliance Defending Freedom.
- Pronunciation guide: Bowman (BOH’-min), Wenger (WENG’-ur)