Tag Archives: HHS Mandate

The Waiting Game

Religious nonprofits including Legatus are waiting to see what the federal government’s next step will be regarding the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ controversial mandate that employers provide contraceptive coverage in their employee health plans.

The Little Sisters of the Poor and their supporters rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court

The Little Sisters of the Poor and their supporters
rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court

On July 22, the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Department of Labor and HHS published a five-page document in the Federal Register opening a 60-day public comment period for anyone to suggest changes in how seamless contraceptive coverage can be provided while respecting the rights of religiously affiliated organizations.

The deadline for public comment is Sept. 20.

“After that, we’ll have a better idea of the direction the federal government is going,” said Kate Oliveri, an attorney with the Thomas More Law Center, which is representing Legatus in its lawsuit challenging the federal government’s contraceptive mandate.

Waiting period

Legatus’ lawsuit — Legatus v. Sebelius — is currently on hold in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Legatus is pretty much in the same position as dozens of other religious nonprofits that have challenged the mandate in federal courts.

Kate Oliveri

Kate Oliveri

“We’re in a waiting period,” Oliveri said.

On May 16, the U.S. Supreme Court, after hearing arguments in Zubik v. Burwell, vacated several lower court decisions and remanded 35 cases back to the federal appellate courts with instructions that the federal government and the religious nonprofits work out an arrangement to provide contraceptive coverage while preserving the plaintiffs’ religious liberty rights.

In Zubik — a consolidated case that included Thomas Aquinas College, The Catholic University of America and the Little Sisters of the Poor as plaintiffs — the high court in its unanimous 8-0 decision did not take any position on the merits on the arguments, though it noted in the supplemental briefs it had earlier requested that both the petitioners and the federal government confirmed that contraceptive coverage could be provided to employees without directly involving the religious employers.

“The court basically said, ‘We think you guys can come to some compromise so we’re not going to decide if there is a burden on religious liberty or if the regulations satisfy the test for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,’” said Oliveri, who described the court’s decision not to make a final ruling as “very unusual.”

Religious liberty

Little Sisters of the Poor wave to supporters at the U.S. Supreme Court on May 16

Little Sisters of the Poor wave to supporters
at the U.S. Supreme Court on May 16

Since 2012, religious nonprofits like Legatus have been challenging the federal mandate that employers provide, without copays, all federally approved forms of birth control in their health insurance plans. Those methods include abortifacient pills, so-called emergency contraceptives and sterilization.

The Obama administration has amended the mandate several times. In July 2015, the administration finalized its so-called accommodation for religious non-profits to notify the Department of Health and Human Services in writing about their objections to contraceptive coverage. The written notification would then trigger HHS to inform the insurers and third-party administrators, with separate payments then being made to enrollees for the coverage.

The religious nonprofits objected to this “accommodation,” arguing it still makes them complicit and hijacks their health insurance plans in the scheme to provide morally objectionable contraceptive services.

Michael McLean

Michael McLean

“It’s not really an accommodation. It doesn’t protect religious liberty, and it doesn’t allow us to conduct our business affairs in full accord with the teachings of the Church,” said Michael McLean, president of Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Calif.

McLean, a member of Legatus’ Ventura/LA North Chapter, said the Supreme Court’s decision in Zubik v. Burwell gave TAC and other nonprofits hope that an acceptable compromise could be reached. But he said negotiations between the college’s attorneys and the federal government have not been productive.

“The government has been very slow to respond and has shown little interest in working out an agreement,” said McLean, who speculated that the government’s negotiators may be dragging their feet to buy time until the November elections with hopes that Democrat Hillary Clinton will be elected and eventually tilt the high court in a more liberal direction.

“I’ve been kind of disappointed and somewhat disillusioned, frankly,” McLean said. “I thought the parties would take the court’s encouragement very seriously and work out a compromise, and so far I don’t see any evidence of that — except on our side of course.”

John Garvey

John Garvey

John Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America, also said he’s surprised that more progress hasn’t been made in the negotiations.

“It didn’t seem to be a very complicated thing. The proposal we made in our supplemental brief laid out a course that seemed to us to be squarely in line with what the court was asking from us,” said Garvey, who explained that an acceptable proposal would be for the health insurer to set up a contraception-only policy, which employees could enroll in without the participation of the employer.

Garvey, a founding member of Legatus’ Washington D.C. Chapter, said he is keeping his fingers crossed that a compromise can be reached. He said the Supreme Court’s decision was probably the best outcome the religious nonprofits could have hoped for.

“I wouldn’t call it validation, but at least it doesn’t validate the contrary position,” Garvey said. “For now at least, we’re back to where we started.”

BRIAN FRAGA is a Legatus staff writer.

Divine Providence and the HHS mandate

John Haas writes that the Supreme Court will meet on the feast of the Annunciation . . .

John Haas

John Haas

It’s been said that a coincidence is nothing other than God remaining anonymous. In other words, there are no coincidences in God’s Providence.

It’s common for Catholics to refer social events and political developments to the mysteries of their faith. These mysteries may not explain secular developments, but they do help us see the invisible but certain hand of God at work among us.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments this month regarding for-profit companies who object on religious grounds to providing insurance coverage for contraceptives, sterilizations and abortion-causing drugs and devices for their employees and families as mandated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

HHS issued the mandate under the heading “preventative services” as part of the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare. Breast cancer exams clearly fall into this category of preventative medicine, but contraceptives and abortifacients do not. To view these as preventative services is to look on fertility as a pathology to be corrected and pregnancy as a disease to be prevented.

The owners of Hobby Lobby, a for-profit company, are evangelical Christians. They refuse to provide such coverage, claiming that it would violate their consciences as well as the Constitution’s First Amendment guaranteeing religious liberty. The company refuses to provide the coverage, and the government could put it out of business with crippling fines up to $1.3 million per day for not providing it. Because of divided lower court decisions, Hobby Lobby’s case has made its way to the Supreme Court, which will hear oral arguments on the case on March 25.

This of course brings us to a remarkable coincidence — or more accurately, face to face with Divine Providence. March 25 is the Feast of the Annunciation which commemorates the appearance of the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary informing her that she would carry the Savior of the world in her womb.

It’s remarkable that the Church coordinated in its liturgical calendar the celebrations of the Annunciation and Christmas long before science proved that a new human individual comes into being at conception, nine months prior to birth. Because certain groups want to advance their contraceptive and abortion agendas, they ignore science.

Not all societies avoid these scientific truths in the interest of some social agenda. Germany, for example, has its Embryo Protection Law, which describes the embryo as coming into being “at the moment of the fusion of the nuclei of the two gametes.” The German law, the statement of scientific truth, shows a compatibility with revealed truth: Jesus was conceived in a virgin’s womb nine months before his birth.

In 1995, Blessed John Paul II issued his powerful encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) which repeated in the strongest language the consistent teaching of the Church in defense of innocent human life. “The moral gravity of procured abortion,” he wrote, “is apparent in all its truth if we recognize that we are dealing with murder” (#58).

The saintly Pope then put the full weight of his office and Church tradition behind this teaching: “Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his successors, in communion with the bishops, who on various occasions have condemned abortion, I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written Word of God, is transmitted by the Church’s tradition, and is taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium” (#62).

John Paul chose to issue his encyclical on the inviolable sanctity of human life on March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation! The apparently arbitrary date the Supreme Court justices selected to hear arguments about the HHS mandate was actually a date chosen for them — a date, not to put too fine a point on it, of cosmic significance: the day on which the Church celebrates in awe and wonder the incarnation, God becoming man in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

As March 25 approaches and the justices’ deliberations commence, Christians must seek the intercession of the Blessed Virgin that they hear and ponder the truth presented to them as Mary had done at the words of Gabriel — and that they pay heed to the deepest human and divine truths hidden in coincidences.

JOHN M. HAAS, PH.D., is president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center and founding president of the International Institute for Culture. He is a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life and serves on its Directive Council.

The courage of St. Thomas More

John Hunt applauds Legatus members for their profound courage in defending the faith . . .

John J. Hunt

John J. Hunt

Cour-age, noun, the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.

Each year Legatus honors a number of outstanding members. I had the privilege of presenting the 2012 Courage in the Marketplace award to the Weingartz family (Detroit Northeast Chapter) and to Bill and Andy Newland (Denver Chapter). Christopher and Mary Anne Yep of the Chicago Chapter had previously received the Courage in the Marketplace award at our 2013 Summit.

These Legates exhibited extraordinary courage for their bold decisions to file lawsuits against the U.S. government in defense of their religious freedom, which is under attack in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare). As I became aware of the paths these individuals followed in making such a decision, I was particularly impressed that their lawsuits were filed on behalf of their companies, all family-owned businesses. In varied  ways, the lives of these courageous individuals — and the businesses they founded — will likely be forever changed by their decisions.

Facing difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear — that’s courage. Legates in the 21st century are called by God to be courageous in our daily lives, sometimes in small and insignificant ways; sometimes in life-changing ways. Courage can present itself in a number of ways, but it will present itself.

Personal courage to “do the right thing in business transactions, ethically and morally” is an opportunity that is part of the activities of a functioning marketplace.

Corporate courage for business leaders means recognizing the burden we bear for our employees and associates – to provide a fair wage, benefits and working conditions that contribute to elevating their quality of life.

Spiritual courage means understanding that each of us has to grow in love for and service to Our Lord, a relationship that is a lifetime in the making but is cultivated by a day-by-day struggle punctuated whenever possible by Mass, rosary, prayer, etc.

Cultural courage means defending the truths of the Natural Law and the teachings of our faith visibly and boldly in a way that exhibits the depth of our love for the truth.

St. Thomas More is a model for all who cultivate courage as a virtue. While being trusted and respected by King Henry VIII, More would not compromise the truth and teachings of the Catholic faith. The saint would say that he was “the king’s good servant, but God’s first.” Might we say as much?

JOHN HUNT is Legatus’ executive director. He and his wife Kathie are charter members of Legatus’ Chicago Chapter.

Veiling the corporate instrument

John A. Di Camillo writes that sound ethics requires recognition of religious freedom . . .

John Di Camillo

John Di Camillo

The for-profit firm Domino’s Farms and its owner, Tom Monaghan, successfully obtained an order of injunction to protect them temporarily from the government’s unjust “preventive services” mandate, which requires that employers provide medical insurance for surgical sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.

The court order on March 14, 2013, invoked common sense: A business organization, regardless of whether it is considered a “person,” can be an extension of the beliefs, rights, and mission of its owners. A business entity is an instrument of individuals, regardless of whether it is for-profit, non-profit, or religiously affiliated.

This is clear when thinking about an organization’s identity and how it “acts.” It typically has a constitution or articles of incorporation, a mission statement, bylaws or protocols providing additional details on how its mission is to be accomplished. The acts of individuals with control over the company (owners, shareholders, corporate members, boards of directors, etc.) determine how the company acts. The individuals act on behalf of the company, and the company acts through the decisions of the individuals. For example, while “the company” is considered the employer of any employees, it’s clear that individuals make hiring and firing decisions.

In this light, consider the government’s response to requests for religious and conscience exemptions to the mandate. Despite a feeble nod to the religious liberty of some non-profit religious organizations with an exceedingly narrow religious exemption and a feigned “accommodation,” the government unabashedly claims that a for-profit organization can be compelled to do what its owners consider evil without violating the religious freedom of the owners.

The implication is that the organization is sufficiently distinct from its owners that there is no religious freedom conflict at all. This denies that an organization is an instrument of individuals. An organization, so the government seems to claim, creates a “moral responsibility shield” around its owners. The owner is not morally responsible for the company’s actions — there is only legal liability for the company’s illegal actions. Since the company’s existence depends on civil and contract law, there is no wrongdoing so long as the company obeys duly established procedures and statutes.

This legalistic reasoning has been recognized as faulty by U.S. courts in cases in which corporations are invoked as a liability shield to protect owners (and their money) when they act immorally. Of course, interpreting the civil law in this manner requires an appeal to morality that goes beyond the letter of the law: A criminal may be obeying all proper statutory protocol but for purposes that conflict with the spirit of the law, in other words, for immoral purposes. The owner may integrate his or her personal funds with those of the company to set up Ponzi schemes, hide assets, or otherwise “cheat the system.”

Courts have intervened in such cases to “pierce the corporate veil,” as it is termed in legal language, so that the individual is punishable for crimes or liable for debts that the letter of the corporate law might not otherwise indicate. The reasoning invoked is that the company has become indistinguishable from the individual running it. Just as an inert instrument such as a pen cannot be invoked to protect the moral agent from responsibility for written libel, so a company cannot be invoked to shield the individual from legal liability for criminal actions accomplished through the company.

How does this reality square with the government’s reasoning about for-profit companies and the preventive services mandate? Rather than piercing the corporate veil to rightly assign legal penalties for an individual’s immoral actions, it seems the government is veiling the corporate instrument to achieve its own immoral aims, quashing the religious liberty and conscience rights of individual owners. It is hiding the reality that business organizations are instruments of individuals so that it can dismiss the moral claims of those individuals.

It seems far too convenient and dangerous to pierce the corporate veil when an individual violates the moral law and claims the legal structure of a corporation as a shield, but then to veil the corporate instrument when the government wishes to impose immoral actions without interference from individual conscience and religious freedom rights.

On the one hand, government courts rightly pierce the corporate veil, transcending the strict letter of the law when an individual is acting immorally under the presumptive protection of the legal fiction of a business entity. Yet on the other hand, the government presumes to veil the corporate instrument, considering the organization to be a distinct agent held liable only to legal regulations — however immoral — in order to shut down conscience and religious freedom claims brought by individuals. Sound ethics and law require proper recognition of the moral conscience and religious freedom of every individual.

JOHN A. DI CAMILLO is a staff ethicist at the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia.

Birth control pretext for destroying religious liberty

Wesley Smith blasts the HHS mandate, saying the ultimate target is Christian morality . . .

Wesley J. Smith

Wesley J. Smith

Government secularism is on the march against religion, and its generals have announced they intend to take few prisoners. For proof, look no further than the Free Birth Control Rule (as I call it) promulgated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

This rule requires employers with 50 or more workers to provide coverage for free contraception, sterilization, and morning-after pills — even if it violates their religious beliefs. A very narrow conscience exemption was carved out for churches with religious objections. But two other categories of dissenting employers must comply despite their faith objections: religious organizations (such as universities and hospitals) and private business owners.

Nonprofit religious organizations: When first announced, the FBCR would have required Catholic universities, schools, charities, and other non-profits to offer employees free contraception just like any business. That sparked a political firestorm, causing the Obama administration to delay implementation for these groups until Aug. 1 of this year with the promise of devising a reasonable compromise.

That proposal is now in, and it is all sleight of hand. The administration still requires all female employees (and eligible dependents, meaning teenage girls, among others) of these objecting organizations to be covered for free contraception — like it or not. Here’s how the “accommodation” will work:

• Nonprofit religious employers must comply with the provisions of the Affordable Care Act and purchase a general group health plan.
• The employer must certify to its insurance carrier that it objects to contraception for religious reasons.
• The health insurance carrier then must “automatically enroll participants and beneficiaries in a separate health insurance policy that covers recommended contraceptive services.”
• The insurance carrier must provide this supplemental policy to these girls and women free of charge.

Thus, the mere act of purchasing health insurance — required by law — automatically triggers forced free coverage for contraception. This means that in many cases, even nuns will have to be insured for birth control, with the only opt-out breaking the law by refusing to buy health insurance, which triggers a stiff fine. Any concomitant harm caused to employees will be the government’s fault for forcing dissenting faith employers to choose between offering benefits and violating their religious beliefs.

Private business owners: The Obama administration’s attempt to force its moral values upon private business owners is even more onerous. Not only are business men and women forced to pay out of their own pockets for that which they perceive to be sinful, but the administration contends that business owners sacrifice their religious liberties in operating their enterprises simply by seeking profit Scores of business owners have sued, so far with mixed results. The cases primarily hinge on the applicability of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which requires that the government prove it has a “compelling state interest” when legally forcing individuals to violate their faith tenets.

To get around the RFRA, the Department of Justice argues that business owners cannot “practice religion” in the commercial context. Or to put it another way, the administration believes that business is a religion-free zone. That’s only part of the Obama secularizing agenda. In another radical move, the DOJ argues that by standing up for religious liberty, dissenting business owners are actually forcing their religion on workers. In other words, the administration has recast business owners as theocratic tyrants.

That’s topsy-turvy. Refuse-to-pay is not synonymous with prevent-from-obtaining. Dissenting business owners are not preventing their female workers from using birth control simply because they won’t pay for it.

Ironically, the administration is attempting to impose its ideology on religious dissenting business owners and religious organizations. The DOJ argues that forcing all employers to provide free contraception (one way or the other) is essential to secure “equal access … to goods, privileges, and advantages” that otherwise are denied females due to the “unique health care burdens and responsibilities” borne by women.

Birth control isn’t the real issue. There is an important principle at stake. Indeed, once a legal precedent is established, one day there could be a free abortion rule, a free IVF rule, or a free sex-change operation rule. And it wouldn’t end with health-related issues, either. In the end, the administration is using birth control as the blade that sacrifices religious liberty on the altar of naked secularism.

WESLEY J. SMITH is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

The Big Fight

Legates defend the faith by suing the Federal Government over contraception mandate . . .

cover-mar13When the Obama administration made it mandatory for all employers to cover contraception, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs in their insurance plans, Legatus members felt the pressure. The federal government’s Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate went into effect for businesses at the start of their insurance plan year, which for most was Jan. 1.

For Legates who own a business, however, the pressure has been particularly acute. To comply means going against the teachings of the Catholic Church. Not to comply means facing crippling fines and possible bankruptcy. Unlike hired CEOs, business owners are “all in.” They stand to lose their livelihood.

Legatus honored the members featured in this article with its Courage in the Marketplace Award at the 2013 Summit in Scottsdale, Ariz., last month. (See related story on page 18.)

Of the 47 lawsuits with 130 plaintiffs against the mandate, 30 are from for-profit businesses. Of these, eight are from Legatus members. Founder Thomas Monaghan and Legatus itself have filed suits over the contraception mandate.

William and Andrew Newland, Denver

William and Andrew Newland

William and Andrew Newland

A member of Legatus’ Denver Chapter, William Newland has been working for his family-owned business his whole life. Hercules Industries is a 50-year-old company that manufactures and distributes heating and air conditioning products. Newland runs the company with his sister, two brothers, and son Andrew — also a member of the Denver Chapter. They employ 300 people and offer insurance through a self-funded plan.

When ObamaCare was passed and the subsequent HHS mandate introduced last year, Newland expected trouble.

“We knew there’d be dark clouds and that we’d be forced to give our employees coverage that we felt was intrinsically evil,” said William Newland.

The Newlands filed a lawsuit against the federal government last April. On July 27, a judge granted Hercules a preliminary injunction. The federal government appealed, stating that mandating free abortion pills and birth control for private employees is a “compelling government interest” and that forcing Hercules and its owners to provide such coverage against their religious beliefs “does not impose a substantial burden on any exercise of religion by Hercules Industries or the Newlands.”

One of the Newlands’ attorneys, Michael Norton from the Alliance Defending Freedom, disagrees.

“Hercules was in a very difficult position,” he said. “The Newlands filed this case on the grounds that the HHS mandate violated their religious principles, and that all families should be able to live out their religion within their business. It’s a lifestyle. It’s not just something you do in Church.”

Dan Weingartz, Detroit Northeast

Dan Weingartz

Dan Weingartz

Like Hercules, the Weingartz Company is another family-owned business. Dan Weingartz, a member of Legatus’ Detroit Northeast Chapter, runs the company founded in 1945 by his grandfather. The family-run company has 140 employees and specializes in the sales and service of outdoor power equipment.

After the HHS mandate was announced in January 2012, the Thomas More Law Center called Weingartz.

“I know some people who worked there,” he explained. “They knew we were upset about the mandate. They had a case ready to file and all they needed was a plaintiff.”

At first Weingartz told the law firm they weren’t interested, but the conversation weighed heavily on his mind. Finally he spoke with his partners at the company and they decided to vote on the issue. The result was a unanimous “yes.”

“One of my partners said, ‘This is a fight we should be involved in,’” said Weingartz.

In May, the Thomas More Law Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of Legatus, the Weingartz Company and its president Dan Weingartz. In November, the company was granted an injunction.

In the ruling, U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland emphasized that the loss of “First Amendment freedoms, for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury.”

Christopher and Mary Anne Yep, Chicago

Christopher and Mary Anne Yep

Christopher and Mary Anne Yep

Christopher and Mary Anne Yep, members of Legatus’ Chicago Chapter, own Triune Health Group, a health care management company with 80 employees. They are challenging both the Obama administration and the state of Illinois.

“For us, the HHS mandate was nothing new,” said Mary Anne Yep. “The state of Illinois is one of a few states that put this [mandate] through years ago at the state level. We were looking for relief back in 2007. For us, the HHS mandate was a double noose.”

The Yeps met lawyers from the Thomas More Society at a Chicago rally for religious liberty and decided to have the firm file two lawsuits for them. They won an injunction in their federal case earlier this year on Jan. 3 and another injunction for their state case on Jan. 15.

The good fight

All three groups of Legates suing the U.S. government say the process has been stressful for them. But their faith and peer support have buoyed them.

“We have lost business because of this,” Christopher Yep explained. “We know what’s at stake, but it’s like a 5K race. Everyone around us is shouting, ‘Go! Go! Go!’ We aren’t alone. We have many people on the sidelines.”

For Weingartz, the lawsuit has brought a fair amount of negative reactions as well as positive.

“I am so happy that we did this,” he said. “It got us in touch with like-minded people. It’s forced us to defend what we believe in. And because of the publicity, it forced us to have some important conversations with our employees about this issue. All we are asking for is true religious freedom.”

William Newland concurs. “Filing this case has deepened our faith. We share the conviction of the sanctity of human life as millions of Catholics do. We have been so encouraged with the outpouring of support. We get emails and letters of support daily.”

Each of these members cite the unqualified support they get from fellow Legates as indispensable.

“They are terrific,” said Weingartz. “They have given us lots of words of encouragement. Without the strength of their example, there’s no way we would have had the courage to do this.”

The risk of total bankruptcy is very real as the plaintiffs watch the fate of Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts retailer owned by Evangelical Christians. On Dec. 26, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor refused to grant them an emergency injunction against the mandate. Hobby Lobby opted to defy the government and face the prospect of paying $1.3 million per day in fines. The company temporarily avoided fines by shifting their insurance plan year forward a few months.

Of the for-profit business owners who sued the federal government, nine have won injunctions. Five did not.

According to Mark Rienzi, an attorney with the Becket Fund, the businesses that won injunctions had one thing in common: They made it clear that they were prohibited by their religion from buying a policy that offered contraception, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs. It was not only that their religion prohibited them from taking these drugs, but also from buying such a policy. In the cases where judges did not grant an injunction, they ruled that buying these policies did not “burden” the business owner’s religious beliefs.

The legal case against the HHS mandate rests squarely on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.

“The Act said that any time the government puts a ‘burden’ on religion, it can only do so in the least restrictive way to serve a ‘compelling’ government interest,” Rienzi said.

Those who oppose the HHS mandate have a hard time understanding what the government’s “compelling” interest is in providing free contraception to every employed U.S. citizen.

“This isn’t close to compelling,” Rienzi said. “The government can give this stuff away for free, and it does, to millions of people through the Title X plan. People who are full-time employees are not desperate. They don’t need handouts.”

Mandate opponents also note that the monthly cost of generic brand birth control pills is $9 per month. Plan B (the morning-after pill) is already available in vending machines in Philadelphia for $25.

Legal analysts say the case should reach the Supreme Court later this year. Defenders of religious liberty say there is a good chance that the Supreme Court will rule against the HHS mandate, noting that the Supreme Court’s last major religious liberty case — EEOC v Hosanna Tabor — was decided 9 to 0 in favor of religious freedom.

While these cases play out in court, many Americans remain unaware of the contraception mandate.

“Most people don’t understand what is going on,” Christopher Yep explained. “But it’s an argument that can be won in five minutes. Once people understand the HHS mandate, they can’t believe it and they can’t believe this is happening. We need to engage others. If the government is successful, they will force Catholics and Christian business people off the playing field and weaken our culture. It’s a battle we have to win.”

SABRINA ARENA FERRISI is Legatus magazine’s senior staff writer.

What’s at stake on November 6

Alan Sears writes that the values Americans hold sacred are up for grabs this year . . .

Alan Sears

With Election Day right around the corner, Americans must decide not only who will serve in office, but how those “personnel choices” will affect crucial federal and state-level issues foundational to our nation’s heritage and to our continuance in the image envisioned by our Founders.

A quick look at recent headlines easily demonstrates that three of those issues — religious freedom, marriage, and the sanctity of life — are facing some of the most serious challenges we’ve seen in our nation’s history. (Click here for a related story.)

In probably the most prominent example, religious freedom has literally been under assault since ObamaCare’s introduction in 2009. The passage of that bill into law in March 2010 only upped the ante, and has since spawned an abortion pill mandate that literally forces business owners to forego their consciences and their faith in order to provide health insurance that covers abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraceptives for employees.

We witnessed a significant victory against the abortion pill mandate in August when Denver-based Hercules Industries won an injunction against the mandate. The company is led by Denver Chapter Legates William and Andrew Newland.

Alliance Defending Freedom represents Hercules in that case, and we were happy to see them secure relief from the coercion other businesses in America still face. Everyone needs to remember that votes cast at all levels on Nov. 6 will affect decision-makers who will have the power to repeal this mandate altogether.

Marriage, the most fundamental building block to the health and survival of the nation, is also endangered at the federal level and in many states across the country this November.

The Obama administration has not enforced the Defense of Marriage Act since officially announcing their opposition to the law on Feb. 23, 2011. This move emboldened individuals and special interest groups nationwide to push the redefinition of marriage. It opened the door for those seeking to impose a homosexual agenda on the military through repeal of the military’s so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in September 2011. It gave way to our President announcing his support for same-sex “marriage” in May 2012.

Not surprisingly, there are now efforts to secure same-sex “marriage” ceremonies for U.S. forces. The future of these ceremonies and, most importantly, the protection of religious freedom for chaplains who have biblical convictions against performing them, is in the hands of members of the House and Senate — many of whom Americans will have the opportunity to support or oppose in just a few days.

And at the state level, ballot initiatives in Maine, Minnesota, Maryland, and Washington will allow citizens of those states to decide whether they wish to protect and preserve marriage as the union of one man and one woman. These ballot initiatives are crucial not only for those states themselves but also because other states are watching. For example, groups in California, Colorado, Florida, Nebraska, and Ohio are already collecting signatures for proposed initiatives that either legalize same-sex “marriage” or repeal an existing ban on it.

Life is also on the ballot this November — both directly and indirectly. As Legatus magazine featured last month, Massachusetts voters will decide whether doctor-prescribed death will become the law of the land as it is in three other states. The “Death with Dignity Act,” which is on the ballot in the Commonwealth, allows doctors to prescribe life-ending medications for patients who then take the drugs home and end their lives when they’re ready.

It’s a surreal proposal, reminiscent of the famous lines of “Invictus” by English poet William Ernest Henley: “I am the captain of my fate. I am the master of my soul.” And it begs the question: Do we take our lives into our own hands only for the purpose of throwing them away with a prescription? Suffering patients need understanding and sound medical treatment, not encouragement to kill themselves.

Voters this year, as in all years, must look at the policies surrounding life that each candidate is promoting, weigh the candidate’s position, and choose those who will stand against the culture of death by standing for a culture of life.

Dropping our guard is simply not an option this November. Religious freedom, marriage, and life face serious challenges that simply cannot be put off for consideration in some future election cycle. The time is now. Your vote may help carry the day.

Alan Sears is a former federal prosecutor who held various posts in the departments of Justice and Interior during the Reagan administration. He is president and CEO of Alliance Defending Freedom. He and his wife Paula are members of Legatus’ Phoenix Chapter.

Defending liberty

Legatus members nationwide step up to protect religious freedom by fighting HHS mandate . . .

Legatus members are at the forefront of a legal battle being waged against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring employers to cover abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization in their insurance plans.

Of the estimated 27 lawsuits that have been filed by businesses, nonprofit organizations, and institutions since the mandate was announced Aug. 1, 2011, nearly a fourth involve Legatus members as plaintiffs.

In addition to a suit filed by Legatus itself, the list includes the cases of Hercules Industries of Denver (which recently won the first court order against the mandate), Triune Health, EWTN, Priests for Life, and Ave Maria University. All are owned or led by Legates. Detroit’s Weingartz Supply Co., and its president, Legate Daniel Weingartz,  also are plaintiffs in the Legatus suit, which challenges the  constitutionality of the HHS mandate under the First Amendment’s religious liberty and free speech provisions.

First Amendment rights

Matt Bowman

Matt Bowman, legal counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing 14 plaintiffs in the Hercules case and three other suits contesting the HHS mandate, said Legatus involvement in this issue shows that the organization is doing vital work to help Christian business leaders incorporate their faith into their everyday lives.

“The government in these cases is taking the position that you cannot exercise religion in your everyday life,” said Bowman. He quotes Pope Benedict XVI, who vigorously countered such sentiments in 2008 when he asked, “Is it consistent to profess our beliefs in church on Sunday, and then during the week to promote business practices or medical procedures contrary to those beliefs? Any tendency to treat religion as a private matter must be resisted. Only when their faith permeates every aspect of their lives do Christians become truly open to the transforming power of the Gospel.”

The first suit against the HHS mandate was filed last November by Belmont Abbey College, a Catholic liberal arts school in North Carolina, before the Jan. 20 publication of final rules on the directive. According to the Catholic News Agency, that case was dismissed in July on technical grounds. The college is expected to  continue its fight against the mandate.

Michael Warsaw

Led by Legate Michael Warsaw, EWTN became the first Catholic organization on Feb. 9 to legally challenge the HHS mandate after publication of the rules. That same month, two other groups with  Legates at the helm, Priests for Life (Legate Janet Morana) and Ave Maria University (Legate Jim Towey), followed with similar suits.

Denver’s Hercules Industries, where Legates William and Andrew Newland are CEO and vice president, respectively, filed suit April 3 and in July was granted an order against the mandate. That ruling, however, only applies to Hercules. In opposing the order, the Obama  administration said that people of faith give up their religious liberty when engaging in business.

Legate Mary Ann Yep, co-founder with her husband, Christopher, of Chicago’s Triune Health Group, disagrees. Triune is challenging  both the HHS mandate and a similar state mandate in Illinois in a suit filed in August. Yep told the Catholic News Agency that she cannot separate her identity as a Catholic woman from her identity as a business owner, and that she aims to live by the same principles whether she is at home, at work or in church.

Crain’s Chicago Business recently named Triune Health the Best Place to Work for Women in the Chicago metro area.

Spiritual warfare

As members engage in the fight for religious freedom on various fronts, Legatus is seeking to bolster their efforts by mobilizing members in a spiritual battle for the future of the country.

On Aug. 1, the date the HHS mandate took effect, Legatus’ executive director John Hunt asked chapters to offer 1,776 Masses and pray 1,776 hours of Eucharistic adoration before the Nov. 6 election.

The effort has garnered a tremendous response from Legates. As of publication, members have committed to 2,186 Masses and 750 hours of Eucharistic adoration. Orange County Chapter member Tim Busch has arranged for 600 Masses and 250 hours of adoration. Anthony Mullen, an At-Large member, has pledged 100 Masses.

Mullen has called the prayer effort “the single most important work we can possibly do to defeat religious intolerance in America. We have a sacred duty together before God to fight with all our being, relying on the greatest power in the universe: God’s sacrifice in the  Mass and his presence in the Eucharist.”

Judy Roberts is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

Life is beautiful

Legatus editor Patrick Novecosky reflects on the cultural challenges facing his newborn son . . .

Patrick Novecosky

I’ve waited for this day for nearly nine months. The anticipation has been growing for some time in the Novecosky household because my son is due to be born any day now, and I can hardly wait. His three siblings can hardly wait. My wife, well, she has been ready for a long time.

Population control advocates are likely to find me certifiably insane for bringing a fourth child into the world. Likewise, those who believe the end is near would surely put me in that category. But those who know the value of each God-given life may just declare me a genius.

We live in challenging times when it’s getting more and more difficult to live our Catholic faith publicly — and I don’t expect it to be any easier for my children. Earlier this year, Chicago Cardinal Francis George noted that for the first time in history, the federal government is openly hostile to the functioning of the Catholic Church in America (Click here for related story) He warned that the HHS contraception-abortifacient mandate will close Catholic hospitals and universities or force them to secularize, a process he calls “a form of theft.”

If the regulation is not rescinded, the Catholic Church will be “despoiled of her institutions,” the cardinal wrote, likening the policies to the restrictive “freedom of worship” allowed in the Soviet Union. In fact, unless we change course now, Cardinal George fully expects the situation to get worse: “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square,” he said in 2010.

What a time to bring a Catholic child into the world! Unemployment is sky-high, the economy is limping along (some believe it’s being held aloft artificially and may soon implode), and our constitutionally guaranteed religious liberties are rapidly eroding.

I believe, however, that now is the best time to bring a Catholic child into the world. I am praying for my new son (and all of my children) to be a light to a world in darkness — to be hope in a world desperately in need of hope. Too many in our culture have tried to fill themselves with the things of this world only to find themselves empty and despairing.

I want my children to be warriors of light — Christ-bearers in the truest sense of the word. Whether or not Cardinal George’s predictions come true, all baptized Christians are called to pray and to live their faith in a vibrant, dynamic way. That’s the only way the culture will be won back for Christ.

Patrick Novecosky is Legatus’ magazine’s editor-in-chief. Peter George Novecosky was born on Sept. 20.

The man in the arena

Legatus is one of several groups suing the Obama administration over the HHS Mandate. . .

Richard Thompson

When John Hunt relayed the message that the Thomas More Law Center was authorized to challenge the HHS mandate on behalf of Legatus, I realized we were mobilizing forces put into place years ago by one man — Tom Monaghan.

Long before this lawsuit, Monaghan had a sense of the importance of the culture war that had already begun — and the need for capable and passionate warriors armed with uncompromised faith to defend the Church. He understood that it meant little to claim a belief in our faith if we were not willing to act on those beliefs.

The culmination of that preparedness manifested itself in a lawsuit filed by the Thomas More Center on behalf of Legatus challenging the constitutionality of the HHS mandate. That mandate (if not overturned) will force Catholic employers to pay for and provide contraceptives and abortifacients to its employees starting in August.

Symbolically, we filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of Legatus on May 7, 2012, the date of the its 25th anniversary. Today, Legatus is one of the world’s most influential Catholic lay organizations. A second plaintiff in the lawsuit, Legate Dan Weingartz, was added to the case to insure that Michigan federal courts had jurisdiction. Back in 1998, Monaghan founded the Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm, as the Christian response to the ACLU. Since its founding, the Law Center has received recognition for its legal efforts on behalf of the religious liberty of Christians, time-honored family values and the sanctity of human life.

The lead counsel in the Legatus lawsuit is Erin Mersino, a 2007 graduate of Ave Maria School of Law. In this legal battle to protect the sanctity of life and freedom of conscience, it’s not surprising that an Ave Maria graduate is fighting on the front lines. Mersino’s education prepared her to combat the unconscionable governmental imposition of the HHS mandate head-on and with clear resolve. Acting as co-counsel is Chuck LiMandri, a member of Legatus’ San Diego Chapter and a member of Legatus’ Board of Governors.

Legatus, the Thomas More Law Center, and Ave Maria School of Law exist because Monaghan was willing to engage in a struggle for our culture and our country. Beginning with Legatus — inspired by his meeting with Blessed John Paul II in 1987 — Monaghan expanded his goal of bettering society to include education and the courtroom. The Law Center answered an important calling — to undo the anti-religious jurisprudence of the ACLU and Roe v. Wade.

Cardinal Raymond Burke confirmed Monaghan’s earlier premonitions. Last November, His Eminence told a Catholic News Agency reporter that Christian persecution is underway in the U.S. and that he could see Catholics being arrested for their faith. And in February, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago warned that “Catholics in this country are facing challenges to our institutional existence and our mission.”

The Thomas More Law Center was the first to file a lawsuit challenging ObamaCare — and the first to have its challenge reach the Supreme Court. In its case challenging the egregious aims of the HHS mandate on behalf of Legatus, the Law Center filed the only lawsuit thus far to bring two vital challenges before the court: the constitutionality of the HHS mandate as it pertains to non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations and, importantly, as it pertains to private, for profit businesses — the latter aspect being almost entirely ignored in the other lawsuits filed thus far against the mandate.

The Law Center succinctly sets forth its claim against the HHS mandate, “This is a case about religious freedom. Thomas Jefferson, a Founding Father of our country, principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and our third president, when describing the construct of our Constitution proclaimed, ‘No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority.’”

Recognizing the implications of our society’s trajectory and refusing to stand on the sidelines, a former Marine responded by helping to construct a Catholic sentinel for the future. That construct’s importance is now being fully realized in the culmination of our fight against the challenges now facing America, the Church and the Constitutional right to religious freedom.

Richard Thompson is the president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center.

This article is written as the nation eagerly awaits the Supreme Court’s decision on the constitutionality of ObamaCare. Since the HHS mandate is a provision under ObamaCare, it is possible that by the time this article is published, the HHS mandate may have been struck down by the Supreme Court. However, if the Supreme Court falls short of ruling that ObamaCare in its entirety is unconstitutional, the legal challenges to the HHS mandate will be fully litigated.