Dear O’Brien: The Free Exercise Clause and Professing Catholicism

Is the contraception/abortifacient mandate, brought to us by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), doomed? Last week, a U.S. federal appeals court, in an order involving O’Brien Industrial Holdings v. HHS, spared O’Brien, a Catholic employer, from the HHS mandate for the appeal’s duration. This order demonstrated that O’Brien and other religious employers have strong lawsuits against the mandate. However, with Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’s inclination to call such mandates as ObamaCare’s constitutional, the HHS mandate could survive the Supreme Court.

O’Brien’s and other religious employers’ lawsuits against the HHS mandate argue several claims, including that HHS is violating the following:

The First Amendment’s protections of “free exercise [of religion],” no “establishment of religion,” and free speech.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Administrative laws, such as the Weldon Amendment, that help protect religious and other liberties