Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

DOJ to Federal Judge: We Can Force Your Wife to Violate Her Religion
CNSNews ^ | February 25, 2013 | Terence P. Jeffrey

Posted on 02/25/2013 4:08:31 PM PST by jazusamo

( - While presenting an oral argument in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia last fall, a lawyer for the U.S. Justice Department told a federal judge that the Obama administration believed it could force the judge’s own wife—a physician—to act against her religious faith in the conduct of her medical practice.

The assertion came in the case of Tyndale House Publishers v. Sebelius, a challenge to the Obama administration’s regulation requiring health-care plans to cover sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.

Tyndale is a for-profit corporation that publishes Bibles, biblical commentaries and other religious works. Tyndale House Foundation, a religious non-profit organization, owns 96.5 percent of the corporation’s stock and receives 96.5 percent of its profits. The foundation’s mission is “to minister to the spiritual needs of people, primarily through grants to other religious charities.”

As a matter of religious principle, the foundation believes that human life begins at conception and that abortion is wrong.

The corporation self-insures, providing its employees with a generous health-care plan. But, in keeping with its religious faith, it does not in any way provide abortions. For this reason, Tyndale sued the Obama administration, arguing that the Obamacare regulation that would force it to provide abortion-inducing drugs and IUDs in its health-care plan violated its right to the free-exercise of religion.

“Consistent with the religious beliefs of Tyndale and its owners, Tyndale’s self-insured plan does not and has never covered abortions or abortifacient drugs or devices such as emergency contraception and intrauterine devices,” Tyndale said in its legal complaint, prepared by the Alliance Defending Freedom.

When Tyndale sought a preliminary injunction to prevent the administration from enforcing the regulation on the company before the federal courts could determine the issue on its merits, Benjamin Berwick, a lawyer for the Civil Division of the Justice Department presented the administration's argument for why Tyndale should be forced to act against the religious faith of its owners. The oral argument over the preliminary injunction occurred Nov. 9 in Judge Walton’s court.

Berwick argued here--as the administration has argued in other cases where private businesses are challenging the sterilization-contraception-abortifacient mandate--that once people form a corporation to conduct business they lose their First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion insofar as their business is concerned.

In the face of this argument, Judge Walton asked an interesting question. His wife, a graduate of Georgetown Medical School, is a physician. She has incorporated her medical practice. Does that mean, according to the Obama administration’s argument, that the federal government can force her to act against her religious faith in the conduct of her medical practice?

Berwick effectively answered: Yes.

Here, from the official court transcript, is the verbatim exchange between this Obama administration lawyer and Judge Walton:

Benjamin Berwick: “Well, your honor, I think, I think there are two distinct ideas here: One is: Is the corporation itself religious such that it can exercise religion? And my, our argument is that it is not. Although again, we admit that it is a closer case than for a lot of other companies. And then the second question is, can the owners--is it a substantial burden on the owners when the requirement falls on the company that is a separate legal entity? I think for that question precisely what their beliefs are doesn't really matter. I mean, they allege that they're religious beliefs are being violated. We don't question that. And we don't question that that is the belief.

Judge Reggie Walton: But considering the closeness of the relationship that the individual owners have to the corporation to require them to fund what they believe amounts to the taking of a life, I don't know what could be more contrary to one's religious belief than that.

Berwick: Well, I don't think the fact this is a closely-held corporation is particularly relevant, your honor. I mean, Mars, for example--

Judge Walton: Well, I mean, my wife has a medical practice. She has a corporation, but she's the sole owner and sole stock owner. If she had strongly-held religious belief and she made that known that she operated her medical practice from that perspective, could she be required to pay for these types of items if she felt that that was causing her to violate her religious beliefs?

Berwick: Well, Your Honor, I think what it comes down to is whether there is a legal separation between the company and—

Judge Walton: It's a legal separation. I mean, she obviously has created the corporation to limit her potential individual liability, but she's the sole owner and everybody associates that medical practice with her as an individual. And if, you know, she was very active in her church and her church had these same type of strong religious-held beliefs, and members of the church and the community became aware of the fact that she is funding something that is totally contrary to what she professes as her belief, why should she have to do that?

Berwick: Well, your honor, again, I think it comes down to the fact that the corporation and the owner truly are separate. They are separate legal entities.

Judge Walton: So, she'd have to give up the limitation that conceivably would befall on her regarding liability in order to exercise her religion? So, she'd have to go as an individual proprietor with no corporation protection in order to assert her religious right? Isn't that as significant burden?

In a series of interviews conducted in 2007 by the Historical Society of the District of Columbia, Judge Walton reported that his wife was a doctor of medicine who had attended Georgetown Medical School.

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: abortion; doj; obamacare; religion
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-30 last
To: jazusamo
I doubt Sebelius grasps the significance of their namesake, Tyndale.

May the Lord open their eyes as well.

21 posted on 02/25/2013 4:52:05 PM PST by RegulatorCountry
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: jazusamo

The mask over fascism is revealing itself a little more each day.

22 posted on 02/25/2013 4:56:05 PM PST by jeffc (The U.S. media are our enemy)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: jazusamo

The net effect of this will be the loss of all legitimacy of the US government. This is too far from the legal intuition of most Americans who hold on to the belief that this country’s laws are based on this country’s constitution.

23 posted on 02/25/2013 5:18:30 PM PST by annalex (fear them not)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: jazusamo

Does a corporation have the power to force an employee or stock holder to violate their religious beliefs?

Can the government force a corporation to violate the religious beliefs of either employees, or stock holders, or officers of the corporation when the corporate officials do not agree with the government?

24 posted on 02/25/2013 5:44:30 PM PST by GladesGuru (In a society predicated upon freedom, it is necessary to examine principles."..)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dirtymac

Corporations can own firearms, including machine guns. Corporate right to machine gun ownership is, IIRC, automatically granted by the authorities - subject to the payment of all fees, of course.

25 posted on 02/25/2013 5:49:44 PM PST by GladesGuru (In a society predicated upon freedom, it is necessary to examine principles."..)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: Pontiac
Corporations are legal fictions forced upon the people by tax law and liability law.

Maybe we should eliminate corporations and change tax law and liability law accordingly.

26 posted on 02/25/2013 7:02:44 PM PST by KrisKrinkle (Blessed be those who know the depth and breadth of their ignorance. Cursed be those who don't.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: jazusamo
I'm kind of surprised the judge didn't simply ask if the corporation has political first amendment rights. Can it contribute to political campaigns? If so, how can the government support one right (freedom of expression), while denigrating another (freedom of religion)?

Seems pretty straightforward to me.

27 posted on 02/25/2013 7:42:21 PM PST by zeugma (Those of us who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: jazusamo

“I agree this will work out badly for the Feds...]

Yet they persist with their attempts at every level. They don’t even hide their contempt for our Constitution any longer, it’s right out there for all to see, yet we seem unable to stop it.

they always have a finger at the ready and in need of somebody’s eye.

28 posted on 02/25/2013 7:44:32 PM PST by Bshaw (A nefarious deceit is upon us all!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Bshaw
They don’t even hide their contempt for our Constitution any longer

It's not just contempt for the Constitution; they have contempt for the citizenry as well...

29 posted on 02/25/2013 9:21:20 PM PST by IncPen (Read the Constitution!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: KrisKrinkle
Maybe we should eliminate corporations and change tax law and liability law accordingly.

I don’t think that is necessary as long as the fools in government don’t try to use these legal fictions to trample on the rights of citizens.

These legal fictions have their uses and purposes. Laws are built upon each other like bricks in a building; you don’t start pulling out one brick without think about pulling down the whole wall by accident.

My point was that corporations are really people and to try to separate people from their rights by saying that corporations do not have rights because they are not people is a misapplication of the law. The corporations and the people are one and the same thing.

30 posted on 02/26/2013 2:50:12 AM PST by Pontiac (The welfare state must fail because it is contrary to human nature and diminishes the human spirit.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-30 last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson