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FILE - In this April 12, 2103 file photo, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Catholic manufacturer brings contraception mandate to the Supreme Court

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Caroline May
Political Reporter

The CEO of Autocam, a Michigan-based manufacturer, will file a petition with the Supreme Court Tuesday requesting the high court review a lower court’s dismissal of the company’s challenge to the HHS contraception mandate.

“The HHS Mandate is forcing me and my family to choose between practicing our religion, losing our family business, or stripping our employees of benefits they need,” Autocam CEO John Kennedy said in a statement Tuesday.

The Kennedy family owns Autocam and contends that the mandate to provide insurance that covers contraception for 700 employees violates the company’s Catholic faith.

Earlier this year the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the Kennedy family’s challenge to the Obamacare contraception provision, holding that that Religious Freedom Restoration Act — which bans the government from applying excessive burdens on a person’s practice of faith — did not apply, as the family was conducting business for profit.

“The Sixth Circuit said our faith has nothing to do with running the business.  But our faith is why we work very hard to treat our employees well,” Kennedy said. “I cannot understand why the Sixth Circuit refused to protect our efforts to live our faith when running our business.”

The Kennedys are represented by the CatholicVote.org Legal Defense Fund and the public interest law firm Thomas More Society.

When the case was dismissed in September, Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, said the groups planned to bring the case before the Supreme Court and offered an early call to the court hear the case.

“We hope the Supreme Court will agree to hear this case so that the Kennedys and other business owners who practice as well as profess their religious faith can keep on doing so without having to ‘bet the company’ and thereby risk their employees’ jobs as well as their own livelihood,” Brejcha said in September.

Tuesday, lead counsel Patrick T. Gillen lambasted the lower court’s ruling, explaining that faith permeates all aspects of life.

“The bottom line of the Sixth Circuit’s opinion is that religious liberty means nothing more than a right to pray within the four walls of a church.  The idea seems to be that religious believers should check their faith at the door on their way out of church.  That is a truly hollow view of religious liberty that is at odds with the finest traditions of our nation.” Gillen said.

The HHS mandate — requiring companies to provide insurance that includes contraception coverage or face a fine — has been at the center of a number of lawsuits from businesses of faith.

According to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, more than 200 plaintiffs have sued the Obama administration over the contraception mandate.

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