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November 29 2012

A Bit of Holiday Cheer: A Three-Judge Panel Temporarily Blocks HHS Mandate for Missouri Business

Charlotte Hays

We learned last week that Hobby Lobby, a Christian-run business, had lost its bid to block the HHS contraception mandate from taking effect in the chain (see “Judge Nixes Religious Freedom”).

But there is some good news on the religious liberty front today: a federal appeals court has temporarily blocked the HHS contraception mandate from taking effect for another small, private company.

The company is O’Brien Industrial Holdings of St. Louis, Mo., the first employer that is not specifically religiously-based to sue the HHS over the mandate. But religious liberty is the issue. Frank O’Brien, head of the holding company, is Catholic.  

The Obama administration’s HHS contraception mandate specifically exempts churches only. Unless successfully challenged, the mandate will force such employers such as O’Brien to violate their consciences, a distressing development in a country that began when devout people came here for religious liberty.  

The O'Brien Holdings injunction was granted by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. The case was filed by the American Center for Law and Justice. CNS News reports:

“By granting our motion, the appeals court blocks the implementation of the HHS mandate and clears the way for our lawsuit to continue – a significant victory for our client,” said Francis Manion, Senior Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, which sued on O'Brien's behalf.

"The order sends a message that the religious beliefs of employers must be respected by the government. We have argued from the beginning that employers like Frank O'Brien must be able to operate their business in a manner consistent with their moral values, not the values of the government. We look forward to this case moving forward and securing the constitutional rights of our client.”

In addition to this suit, ACLJ filed the Hobby Lobby suit and a third one for Tyndale House, which publishes religious books. Tyndale House was granted a preliminary injunction. It is of course shocking that in the United States anybody has to go to court to protect religious freedom. IWF put out a statement in support of Hobby Lobby, and it is worth rereading today, when we have just a bit of good news.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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