Grote granted injunction in Obamacare challenge
Tuesday, February 12, 2013 10:00 AM
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has granted a temporary injunction to delay a health care mandate for Grote Industries LLC.
The Grote family filed a lawsuit in October 2012 against the Department of Health and Human Services over the mandatory contraception funding portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.
Grote, a Madison-based manufacturer of vehicle lighting and safety systems, sought an injunction to stop daily $100 penalties that would take effect Jan. 1, 2013. The penalties would be enforced on any company that was not complying with the regulations of Obamacare.
Circuit judges Joel Flaum and Diane Sykes authored the majority opinion that reversed the ruling of the Southern District Court of Indiana, which denied the motion for an injunction.
"They maintain that the legal duties imposed on them by the contraception mandate conflict with the religious duties required by their faith, and they cannot comply with both," the opinion said.
"The mandate, they contend, compels them to materially cooperate in a grave moral wrong contrary to the teachings of their church and levies severe financial penalties if they do not comply."
There was a difference in opinion on the matter, with Circuit Judge Ilana Diamond Rovner authoring a dissenting opinion. She argued that while the Grotes may hold religious values, those values are not enforced upon the company's employees.
"So far as the limited record before us reveals, (Grote Industries LLC) has stated no religious goals as part of its mission, it does not select its employees, vendors, or customers on the basis of their religious beliefs, and it does not require its employees to conform their behavior to any particular religious precepts. As such, I cannot imagine that the company, as distinct from the Grotes, has any religious interests or rights to assert here," Rovner wrote.
"In short, the only religious freedoms at issue in this appeal are those of the Grotes, not the companies they own."
Rovner argued the contraception mandate does not force Grote to "personally engage in or endorse conduct of which they disapprove on religious grounds."
"All that the mandate requires is that the Grote Industries health plan permit individual employees, in consultation with their physicians, to decide to use FDA-approved contraceptives and pay for the use of those contraceptives," Rovner said.
The court consolidated the Grote lawsuit with a suit filed by Korte & Luitjohan Contractors Inc. Both companies, the court said, filed for similar reasons and made similar arguments, which was the reason for the consolidation.
Grote will remain under a temporary injunction until the case is resolved.