Gorsuch Defended Religious Liberty of Christian Business Owners Against Obama's Abortifacient Mandate

By Terence P. Jeffrey | February 2, 2017 | 5:42pm EST
Judge Neil Gorsuch with President Donald Trump, Jan. 31, 2017. (Screen Capture)

(CNSNews.com) - Judge Neil Gorsuch, whom President Donald Trump has nominated to the Supreme Court, wrote a concurring opinion on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit defending the right of Christian business owners not to comply with a regulatory mandate issued by the Obama administration forcing them to cover abortion-inducing drugs and devices in their health-care plans.

The opinion was published Jun 27, 2013, in the case of Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius.

Gorsuch agreed with the appeals court’s ruling that Hobby Lobby and Mardel, two businesses owned by the Green family, were entitled to an injunction against the Obamacare regulation.

Gorsuch wrote:

"All of us face the problem of complicity. All of us must answer for ourselves whether and to what degree we are willing to be involved in the wrongdoing of others. For some, religion provides an essential source of guidance both about what constitutes wrongful conduct and the degree to which those who assist others in committing wrongful conduct themselves bear moral culpability. The Green family members are among those who seek guidance from their faith on these questions. Understanding that is the key to understanding this case.

"As the Greens explain their complaint, the ACA’s mandate requires them to violate their religious faith by forcing them to lend an impermissible degree of assistance to conduct their religion teaches to be gravely wrong. No one before us disputes that the mandate compels Hobby Lobby and Mardel to underwrite payments for drugs or devices that can have the effect of destroying a fertilized human egg. No one disputes that the Greens’ religion teaches them that the use of such drugs or devices is gravely wrong.

"It is no less clear from the Greens’ uncontested allegations that Hobby Lobby and Mardel cannot comply with the mandate unless and until the Greens direct them to do so--that they are the human actors who must compel the corporations to comply with the mandate.

"And it is this fact, the Greens contend, that poses their problem. As they understand it, ordering their companies to provide insurance coverage for drugs or devices whose use is inconsistent with their faith itself violates their faith, representing a degree of complicity their religion disallows. In light of the crippling penalties the mandate imposes for failing to comply with its dictates--running as high as $475 million per year--the Greens contend they confront no less than a choice between exercising their faith or saving their business.

"No doubt, the Greens’ religious convictions are contestable. Some may even find the Greens’ beliefs offensive. But no one disputes that they are sincerely held religious beliefs. This isn’t the case, say, of a wily businessman seeking to use an insincere claim of faith as cover to avoid a financially burdensome regulation. …

"And to know this much is to know the terms of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act apply. The Act doesn’t just apply to protect popular religious beliefs: it does perhaps its most important work in protecting unpopular religious beliefs, vindicating this nation’s long-held aspiration to serve as a refuge of religious tolerance.

"The Greens’ claim in this case closely parallels claims the Supreme Court vindicated in Thomas and Lee. In Thomas, the plaintiff, a faithful Jehovah’s Witness, was willing to participate in manufacturing sheet steel he knew might find its way into armaments, but he was unwilling to work on a fabrication line producing tank turrets. …

"That’s the line he understood his faith to draw when it came to complicity in war-making, an activity itself forbidden by his faith. The Supreme Court acknowledged this line surely wasn’t the same many others would draw, and that it wasn’t even necessarily the same line other adherents to the plaintiff’s own faith might always draw. But the Court proceeded to hold that it was not, is not, the place of courts of law to question the correctness or the consistency of tenets of religious faith, only to protect the exercise of faith.

"No different result can reasonably follow here."

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