Pa. woodworkers ask Supreme Court to shelve abortion pill mandate
WASHINGTON — Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing a Pennsylvania family and its woodworking business asked the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday to hear its lawsuit against the Obama administration’s abortion pill mandate, which could cost the family nearly $3 million per month in fines if it doesn’t agree to live contrary to its Christian convictions. It is the first Supreme Court petition in a case challenging a direct ruling on the mandate.
A divided U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit decision against the Hahn family and Conestoga Wood Specialties, who are challenging the legality and constitutionality of the mandate, runs counter to decisions issued in other circuits and to the vast majority of court rulings on the mandate so far.
“All Americans, including family business owners, should be free to live and do business according to their faith,” said Senior Counsel David Cortman. “A major aspect of freedom is at stake: if the government can force the Hahns to violate their faith just to engage in their livelihood, then the government can do the same or worse to others.”
“The question is whether the government can pick and choose what faith is, who the faithful are, and when and where they can exercise that faith,” added Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “The cost of religious freedom for the Hahn family and many other job creators across the country who face this mandate is severe. The potential for massive fines and lawsuits would cripple their businesses and threaten jobs.”
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 penalties by the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies if the mandate’s requirements aren’t met. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys are co-counsel in the case Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius together with attorneys Charles Proctor, III, and Randall Wenger, two of nearly 2,300 Alliance Defending Freedom allied attorneys.
“How can the government tell families operating businesses that they can no longer apply their convictions in the workplace? Living consistently with one’s beliefs is a basic tenant of a free society,” said Wenger, chief counsel of the Independence Law Center. Proctor is with the Pennsylvania firm Proctor, Lindsay & Dixon.
Conestoga Wood Specialties owners Norman Hahn, Elizabeth Hahn, Norman Lemar Hahn, Anthony H. Hahn, and Kevin Hahn are a practicing and believing Christian Mennonite family. They desire to run the company, a wholesale manufacturer of custom wood cabinet parts, in a manner that reflects their sincerely held religious beliefs, including their belief that God requires respect for the sanctity of human life.
The petition filed with the Supreme Court explains that “the Hahn family and their close identification with Conestoga exemplify the case for allowing for-profit businesses and their family owners to live their faith as they participate in the marketplace. If anyone subject to the contraceptive-coverage Mandate can claim free exercise rights, they can.”
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and allied attorneys are also litigating 12 other lawsuits against the mandate. The lawsuits represent a large cross-section of Protestants and Catholics who object to the mandate.
- Pronunciation guide: Bowman (BOH’-min), Wenger (WENG’-ur)
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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