Missouri Legislator & Wife Ask Court for Protection During Obamacare Lawsuit Appeal
Thomas More Society Seeks Preliminary Injunction for State Rep. Wieland and Family
ST. LOUIS, Nov. 25, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ — Today, Thomas More Society attorneys filed for preliminary injunctive relief on behalf of Missouri State Representative Paul Wieland and his wife Teresa in the couple’s lawsuit contesting Obamacare’s infringement on their First Amendment rights. The couple is asking the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit to exempt their family from the Health and Human Services mandate that would require them to participate in group insurance coverage that includes abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and birth control for their teenage and adult daughters.
The Wielands are suing the federal government for violating their religious liberty, free speech, and parental rights by reason of Obamacare’s mandating a religiously objectionable health insurance plan provided by the State of Missouri. Beginning January 1, 2014, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act mandates that the Wielands obtain for themselves, and provide for their dependent daughters, health care coverage that includes coverage for “contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.”
This coverage, which is abhorrent to the Wielands, given their Catholic faith, is mandated to continue until their dependent daughters are 24 years old. The Eighth Circuit court and other federal appellate courts have held that for-profit employers are likely to prevail on similar claims under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, because their free exercise of religious faith is substantially burdened when the government forces them to provide such coverage for their employees. The Wielands claim that their religious freedom — Paul’s as an employee and both Wielands, as parents, is also protected under the act.
The Wielands had previously obtained a health insurance plan that did not include abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptives. But because of the Health and Human Services mandate, that plan was eliminated and, without their permission, the Wielands were transferred to another plan that is contrary to their Catholic faith.
“We liked our health care plan. We should be able to keep it,” Mrs. Wieland said. “It protected our religious beliefs and our rights as parents.”
To date, forty for-profit employers have filed lawsuits over the controversial Obamacare mandate. Thirty-two of the plaintiffs have secured injunctive relief against the mandate. “There is every reason to expect that the Wielands will also prevail in their quest to secure their religious liberty,” said Timothy Belz, special counsel for the Thomas More Society, who is representing the Wielands.
According to veteran court watchers, the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday will consider whether to take up one or more of four cases on the mandate decided in the lower courts — including an appeal by the Obama Administration of the Hobby Lobby decision by the Tenth Circuit in June that upheld the right of the Christian craft store chain to exclude abortion-inducing drugs and devices in their employee’s health plans.
The lawsuit by the Wielands names the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, U.S. Department of the Treasury, and U.S. Department of Labor as defendants.