The ACLU and the ACLU of Eastern Missouri recently filed an amicus brief supporting the mandate which requires employers to provide insurance coverage for abortifacients, contraception, and sterilization procedures without a co-pay. The case, O’Brien Industrial Holdings v. Department of Health and Human Services, is a challenge by a private company which argues that the contraception rule is a violation of religious liberty.
In its brief, the ACLU compares Catholics to racists, arguing that declaring that you don’t want to support the killing of the unborn with abortifacients is akin to refusing to serve African-Americans:
Regrettably, not so very long ago, businesses similarly claimed that their right to religious liberty entitled them to discriminate against African-American customers in public accommodations; universities claimed a religious liberty right to discriminate against African-American students; and employers claimed their right to religious freedom entitled them to pay men – who they considered to be the head of household based on their religious beliefs – more than women. Fortunately, in each of these cases, the courts squarely rejected the claims, recognizing that the right to religious liberty does not encompass the right to discriminate against others. This Court should come to the same conclusion here. Indeed, acceptance of Plaintiffs’ claims would not only contravene this clear and consistent precedent, but would also open the door for arguments that countless antidiscrimination statutes should be unenforceable in the face of a claim that the discrimination is mandated by a religious belief.
The ACLJ is representing O’Brien in this case.
“This is the most ridiculous brief I’ve ever read,” ACLJ lawyer Francis Manion told The Cardinal Newman Society. “There’s nothing to do but heap scorn and ridicule on it.”
He pointed out that the irony is that the government has acknowledged the validity of some religious objection. “So is the ACLU saying the government is promoting racism?” Manion laughed. “It floored me when I read it. I could be angry but I just laughed instead.”
He suggested that the ACLU brief was more of a press release garnered to gain attention for the liberal organization rather than a serious legal document.
O’Brien, a Catholic, says his religious beliefs provide the framework for the operation of his business, which employs 87 people. The company’s website states the OIH mission “is to make our labor a pleasing offering to the Lord while enriching our families and society.” OIH’s statement of the company’s values begins with the following: “Integrity. Our conduct is guided by the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments. We will not discriminate based on anyone’s personal belief system.”
There have been 58 plaintiffs and 24 lawsuits against the HHS mandate.