Supreme Court accepts Pa. Mennonite cabinetmakers’ challenge to abortion pill mandate
Attorney sound bite: David Cortman
Eighteen states and other parties filed friend-of-the-court briefs last month that also asked the high court to hear the case, Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius. The court also agreed to hear Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores. Hobby Lobby, founded and owned by the Green family, is one of the largest arts and crafts retailers in America.
“The government shouldn’t be able to punish Americans for exercising their fundamental freedoms,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel David Cortman. “The administration has no business forcing citizens to choose between making a living and living free. We trust the Supreme Court will agree. A government that forces any citizen to participate in immoral acts--like the use of abortion drugs--under threat of crippling fines is a government everyone should fear.”
“If the government can force Americans to violate their conscience--our deepest, most heart-felt convictions--there is no stopping what government can do. If liberty isn’t preserved here, all of our liberties are in jeopardy,” added Randall Wenger, chief counsel of the Independence Law Center, which originally filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of the Hahn family.
The Hahns are Mennonite cabinetmakers in Pennsylvania who appealed to the nation’s high court after a divided federal appellate court ruled against them. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit’s 2-1 decision runs counter to decisions issued in other circuits and to the vast majority of court rulings on the mandate so far.
“If government can put Americans out of business for keeping their faith, there is no limit to what freedoms it can take away,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “Bad laws that force good people to do bad things belong in the shredder, not on the books.”
The mandate, a component of Obamacare, 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 and Charles Proctor III of the Pennsylvania firm Proctor, Lindsay & Dixon. They are two of nearly 2,300 attorneys allied with Alliance Defending Freedom.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and allied attorneys are also litigating numerous other lawsuits against the mandate. The lawsuits represent a large cross-section of Protestants and Catholics who object to the mandate.
- Video news release: Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius
- Pronunciation guide: Bowman (BOH’-min), Wenger (WENG’-ur)