LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced he has filed an amicus brief supporting a lawsuit filed by Michigan-based Domino’s Farms and its owner, Tom Monaghan, to defend religious liberty and challenge the unconstitutional Obama administration mandate which forces employers to violate their religious and faith-based beliefs by providing insurance plans that cover services, including abortion-inducing drugs, that conflict with those beliefs.
“America’s first freedom is religious liberty,” said Schuette. “Any rule, regulation or law that forces American employers to violate their free exercise of religion is a flat-out violation of the First Amendment and federal law, specifically the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
“This unconstitutional mandate will not only affect religious schools and hospitals, but it will force private sector job-providers across America to violate their conscience. The First Amendment applies to everyone, and I will continue to defend religious liberty for all, not just the chosen few dictated by the Obama Administration.”
On January 28, 2013, Schuette filed an amicus brief with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in support of the lawsuit filed by Domino’s Farms and its owner, Tom Monaghan, in response to Obamacare regulations that force thousands of religious organizations and private sector employers to violate their deepest beliefs by mandating what organizations and companies must include in their employee health insurance plans, or face steep government fines. Although the Obama administration has provided exemptions for other groups, including many large corporations, it has persistently refused to give the same accommodation to employers exercising their First Amendment freedoms. Domino’s Farms is the property management company for Domino’s Farm Office Park, LLC and DF Land Development, LLC, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and home to fifty corporations, firms, nonprofits and entrepreneurial businesses.
Attorney General Schuette filed the brief on January 29, 2013. The case is scheduled for a hearing in Detroit on January 31, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. before U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Zatkoff.
On January 20, 2012, the Obama administration announced that it would not change its mandate forcing religious employers to purchase and provide health care services that violate their religious beliefs and moral convictions. The decision was announced in spite of concerns expressed by a wide spectrum of religious leaders and employers.
Schuette’s efforts to challenge the unconstitutional Obamacare mandate are the latest steps to defend religious liberty for Michigan citizens:
· In September 2012, Schuette filed an amicus brief supporting a lawsuit filed by Michigan-based Weingartz Supply Company, its owner Daniel Weingartz, and Legatus, an organization of Catholic business owners, to defend religious liberty and challenge the unconstitutional Obama administration mandate which forces religious employers to violate their religious and faith-based beliefs by providing insurance plans that cover services, including abortion-inducing drugs, that conflict with those beliefs. The District Court agreed with Schuette and granted the preliminary injunction for Daniel Weingartz and Weingartz Supply Company on November 13, 2012.
· In September 2012, Michigan joined six states to file their own lawsuit, which has been appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, after a lower court declined to hear the case. Michigan is joined in the effort by Florida, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. Also joining the litigation are The Catholic Mutual Relief Society of America, Catholic Social Services, and two private citizens. This case is currently pending.
· In 2011, Schuette filed an amicus brief on behalf of eight states in support of religious liberty in a significant case involving the right of religious organizations to manage their religious employees without government interference. In January 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously (9-0) agreed with Schuette and upheld the right of religious organizations to manage their religious employees without government interference in the case Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission et al.
· Schuette also filed an amicus brief in support of Julea Ward, a former Eastern Michigan University student who sued the university in federal court for violating her constitutional rights after she was dismissed from a graduate counseling program due to her religious beliefs. On January 27, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit agreed with Schuette that Ward had a right to trial and reversed the lower court ruling dismissing her case.