ANN ARBOR, MI â€“ Legatus, the Nationâ€™s largest organization of top Catholic business CEOs and professional leaders, obtained a Preliminary Injunction against the Federal Government in its case challenging the HHS Mandate.
Federal District Judge Robert H. Cleland of the Eastern District of Michigan entered the Order granting the Thomas More Law Centerâ€™s motion for a preliminary injunction on Friday afternoon, December 20, 2013.
The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Legatus on May 7, 2012.
â€œLegatusâ€ is the Latin word for â€œambassadorâ€, and its members are called upon to become â€œambassadors for Christâ€ in living and sharing their Catholic Faith in their business, professional and personal lives.
It was founded in 1987 by Catholic philanthropist Tom Monaghan, to bring together the three key areas of a Catholic business leaderâ€™s life â€“ Faith, Family and Business.Â Legatus currently has over 4,000 members in 31 states.
Erin Mersino, the TMLCâ€™s lead attorney handling the Legatus case, has been spearheading the Law Centerâ€™s challenges to the HHS Mandate in eleven cases thus far.
When the lawsuit was originally filed Judge Cleland refused to enter an Injunction because Legatus was a non-profit organization and protected by the safe harbor provisions.
Also, the Government represented that it was in the process of adopting rules that would accommodate organizations like Legatus.
The judge stated, however, that should the Government act in a way that was inimical to the rights of Legatus, it could again approach the Court.
The safe harbor provision protecting Legatus from the provisions of the HHS Mandate expires on January 1, 2014.Â TMLC re-filed its motion for a Preliminary Injunction after the Government adopted its accommodation rules on the grounds those rules still required Legatus to facilitate insurance coverage for processes it feels are contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.
In granting TMLCâ€™s motion for a Preliminary Injunction, the Court found that even with the new rules adopted by the Government concerning religious accommodations, Legatus will likely show at trial that the HHS Mandate â€œsubstantially burdens the observance of the tenets of Catholicism.â€
Further, the Court found that there were many other ways to achieve the Governmentâ€™s interest to increase free contraception without restricting the religious liberty of Legatus.
Accordingly, the Court found that the government has not made a convincing argument showing the HHS Mandate is advancing a compelling government interest by the least restrictive means.
The Court noted that it had hoped that the government would not â€œact . . . in a way inimical to the rights Legatus seeks to protect.â€Â The court commented that it had â€œbeen unduly hopeful.â€