HHS Mandate, Religious Freedom

A Letter From the Becket Fund

Dear Friends,becket Fund

This Friday, our General Counsel, Kyle Duncan, will go before a federal judge to ask for a preliminary injunction against the HHS Mandate for Hobby Lobby.

Now, I know I gave you a quick update a couple of weeks ago when we won our case at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. But, with this hearing on the docket, I wanted to give you a little more detailed explanation of what happened and what it all means.

The 10th Circuit decision is a key victory in the fight against the HHS Mandate.

Hobby Lobby is the largest business to challenge the HHS Mandate in court. And the 10th Circuit decision was the result of the rare opportunity to present the case directly to the full court instead of a smaller panel and it represents the first definitive appellate ruling against the mandate.

And, while the 10th Circuit’s decision helped spare Hobby Lobby from exposure to tremendous government fines scheduled to begin just days after the court ruled, its opinion is an true victory for the many other religious business owners who find themselves facing the same “Hobson’s choice”– as the Court of Appeals called it – as Hobby Lobby’s Green family; that is, follow the law or follow your conscience.

What happens on July 19th, however, will be an even greater milestone in this fight.

Your support has been so key in getting us to this tipping point. But there’s still far to go – as we’ve said all along, unless the government has a sudden change of heart – which is unlikely – the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately have to decide this case. Can we count on your continued support now with a generous contribution of $25, $50, $100, $250, $500, $1000, or whatever you can send today?

First, it’s important to note the conclusions that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals came to. The court ruled that denying Hobby Lobby the protection of federal laws designed to secure religious liberty just because they are a profit-making business “would conflict with the Supreme Court’s free exercise precedent.”

In fact, the court found that the heavy fines of the mandate unconstitutionally pressure Hobby Lobby to violate their religious beliefs – beliefs of which no one, not even the government, has questioned the sincerity. It further held, “The government does not articulate why accommodating such a limited request [as Hobby Lobby’s] frustrates its goals … .”

Ultimately, the court concluded that Hobby Lobby has “established a likely violation of [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act].”

The government may believe that you forfeit your religious liberty when you go into business to earn a living; but the 10th Circuit disagrees. This has been our argument from the get-go.

So, on June 27th, the 10th Circuit judges reversed the lower court’s prior decision and sent the case back to the trial court for a hearing that would determine if the government fines against Hobby Lobby would kick in on July 1st.

Now, I must boast about our tremendous legal team once more. In a mere six hours, they put together an application that won a temporary restraining order from the district court the very next day. Just six hours from getting the 10th Circuit opinion to turning in this application. I may not be an attorney, but I know that is no small feat!

So, on June 28th, the district court granted the temporary restraining order, saving Hobby Lobby from those heavy government fines set to begin less than 72 hours later, and set a hearing for a preliminary injunction on July 19th.

Judge Joe Heaton, who granted our temporary restraining order, indicated in court that if he had to decide the case on that very day, he’d find that the balance of harms tips in Hobby Lobby’s favor; but he wanted to fully explore the questions related to what is in the public interest in this case. That’s what this Friday’s hearing is about.

We will be arguing that it is always in the public interest to protect First Amendment freedoms. And, I will update you as soon as I can on how the court responds.

In the meantime, thank you for your moral and financial support. Your generosity helps us get to these important victories. And, your continued support now is greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Kristina Arriaga

Executive Director

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