New lawsuit filed against contraceptive mandate by private business owner

03/15/2012 - 1:51pm
American Center for Law and Justice

Today, the American Center for Law and Justice announced that it has filed a lawsuit against the Obama Administration's contraceptive mandate on behalf of Frank R. O'Brien and O’Brien Industrial Holdings, LLC.

For a while now we've been watching to see if a private (but religious) business owner would file a case against the Obama Administration's contraceptive mandate.

Why? Because only a private business owner has standing to sue the Obama Administration.

There are several other cases pending against the contraceptive mandate filed by religious organizations. But the courts are most likely to dismiss them for not being "ripe."

A case is not ripe when a court looking at the facts cannot tell whether or not there will be a harm to the plaintiff.

For the religious organization plaintiffs, because of a one-year waiver, a violation to their First Amendment rights would not occur until August 2013, and there are at least a couple of events that may intercede before then. First, there is an intervening presidential election. A new presidential administration might rescind the regulation that currently forces employers to provide free contraceptives. And second, the Obama Administration has said that it is drafting a regulation that, to the skepticism of many, will address the concerns of religious organizations.

Religious owners of private, non-religious businesses, however, are at risk of being forced to act against their conscience or to drop coverage for their employees. While the mandate technically doesn't go into effect until August. Most employers negotiate insurance terms long before they go into effect. Also, there will be no intervening election and the current Administration has no plans to make an exception for the owners of private non-religious businesses.

Therefore, Mr. O'Brien and any other religious business owners with the courage to challenge the Administration's mandate may do so now while others will have to wait.

If the Supreme Court doesn't overturn Obamacare in its entirety before then, you can expect to hear more about this case in the days leading up to the November elections and beyond.