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Michigan Federal Judge Grants Injunctive Relief in an HHS Mandate Challenge

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by Publius
Posted November 01, 2012, 4:00 PM

At FedSoc's SCOTUSreport, William J. Haun reports and comments on an HHS decision handed down last night.  His post begins:

Last evening, Judge Richard Cleland of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan granted an injunction against the HHS contraceptive mandate in Legatus v. Sebelius.  The order is here.  The case is a challenge to the HHS mandate that employers provide health insurance coverage of contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs, and is brought by secular individual as well as companies seeking a religious-based exemption from the mandate on the grounds that providing such coverage would violate their Roman Catholic faith. Here is a brief outline of the order’s key findings and some commentary:

1. In deciding whether the first plaintiff, Weingartz Supply Company, has satisfied the standing requirements, Judge Cleland declines to address whether corporations have religious free exercise rights.  However, the judge does extend free exercise protection further than other courts have in similar cases.  While other decisions cited by the judge looked to the corporation as a way to fulfill the owner’s religious goals in evaluating free exercise protection, here it’s sufficient that Daniel Weingartz (the corporation’s president) has a personal free exercise right and is defended through his company (pgs. 8-9).

2. Regarding the standing of the second plaintiff, Legatus, the judge furthers the view of other courts in affording the government a good faith presumption that HHS and the president will keep their promise to “accommodate” other religious objectors (the only evidence of which at this time is a press conference by President Obama) and accordingly finds that Legatus’ injury is too hypothetical to qualify for relief—i.e., it cannot show a substantial burden on its exercise of religion.  (pg. 11). . . .

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