Thursday, April 24, 2014

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Legal Victory for Catholic Business, Court: ‘Nothing inherently incompatible between religious exercise and profit-seeking’

An appeals court has granted a temporary injunction to a Catholic-owned business, which sought relief from the Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate, saying, “there is nothing inherently incompatible between religious exercise and profit-seeking.”

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled 2-1 that GroteIndustries, a Wisconsin-based maker of vehicle safety systems, has the right to challenge the mandate.

The court decision noted a similar opinion from the 10th Circuit.  The 3rd Circuit Court, however, previously ruled, “a for-profit, secular corporation cannot engage in the exercise of religion.” The opposing opinions make it increasingly likely that the U.S.Supreme Court will eventually have to decide on the constitutionality of the contraceptive mandate.

“At bottom, the government’s argument is premised on a far-too-narrow view of religious freedom: Religious exercise is protected in the home and the house of worship, but not beyond,” Judge Diane Sykes wrote in the majority opinion. “Religious people do not practice their faith in thatcompartmentalized way; free-exercise rights are not so circumscribed.”

The court also seemed to be recalling Archbishop William Lori’s 2011 testimony on Capitol Hill, when they wrote, “On the government’s understanding of religious liberty, a Jewish restaurant operating for profit could be denied the right to observe Kosher dietary restrictions.

“In short, the federal government has placed enormous pressure on the plaintiffs to violate their religious beliefs and conform to its regulatory mandate,” the court wrote. “Refusing to comply means ruinous fines, essentially forcing the Kortes and Grotes to choose between saving their companies and following the moral teachings of their faith.”

According to the Catholic News Service, Matt Bowman--senior legal counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom,which represented the Grote family in their suit--said, "We're very glad that the court recognized that all Americans have religious freedom, including when they try to earn a living in business.”

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