The Obama administration has decided not to pursue its attempt to force Tyndale House Publishers to provide contraceptive and abortifacient drugs to its employees before the company’s legal challenge goes to court.
In an unexpected development in the case on Friday, a federal court dismissed the government’s appeal of a November ruling that temporarily blocked enforcement of what has become known as the contraceptive mandate. Under Obamacare, companies with more than 50 employees must provide health insurance coverage for contraceptives and medication that can cause abortions. The government provided an exception for churches but not for religious social service agencies or employers.
Tyndale, based in Carol Stream, Ill., is one of 190 employers, companies, and organizations that have filed suit over the mandate.
In issuing his November ruling in favor of the publishing house, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said the mandate “affirmatively compels the plaintiffs to violate their religious beliefs in order to comply with the law and avoid the sanctions that would be imposed for their noncompliance.”
At first, government lawyers appealed the decision, as they have done in every case involving a temporary injunction. But on Friday, the government decided it would have a hard time defending its position against a company that prints Bibles and other religious texts, lawyers for the company said.
“Bible publishers should be free to do business according to the book that they publish,” said Matt Bowman, senior legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). “The government dismissed its appeal because it knows how ridiculous it sounds arguing that a Bible publisher isn’t religious enough to qualify as a religious employer. For the government to say that a Bible publisher isn’t religious is outrageous, and now the Obama administration has had to retreat in court.”
Although the government has chosen not to fight the injunction ruling, it will continue to challenge Tyndale’s demand for a permanent reprieve.
ADF attorneys are working on nine other challenges to the mandate. A total of 59 cases are pending in courts across the country. The cases, which have generated conflicting rulings at the appeals court level, eventually will end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.