The Obama Administration won a victory Tuesday as a Cincinnati-based federal appeals court rejected objections raised by two Michigan corporations to a mandate that they cover contraception for female employees.
Autocam Corp. and Autocam Medical, for-profit firms, challenged the federal Affordable Care Act rule.
A Roman Catholic family that holds a controlling interest in the companies, argued that the requirement would force them to choose between the teachings of their church and significant financial harm. The companies contend they could face tax penalties of as much as $19 million a year for noncompliance.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a decision from U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids rejecting Autocam’s motion for a preliminary injunction. It sent the case back to the lower court with orders to dismiss the challenges.
This decision would apply to the 6th Circuit’s entire jurisdiction, including Ohio. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and his Michigan counterpart, Attorney General Bill Schuette, both Republicans, sided with Autocam.
The court ruled that the family cannot use a private, for-profit, secular corporation to assert its religious views. To rule differently, the court said, would “abandon corporate law doctrine at the point it matters most.”
The court, however, then went on to find that the corporations are not persons who can engage in “religious exercise.”
The court stressed that this decision does not affect challenges that have been made by nonprofit religious organizations to the contraception coverage mandate under what is commonly called “Obamacare.” But such arguments cannot apply to a for-profit, secular corporation, it said.
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