May 6, 2013 Print

Obama Administration Drops Appeal in Christian Publisher HHS Mandate Case

by Bethany Monk

The Obama administration has surrendered its appeal against a Christian publishing company challenging a government mandate requiring that it offer potential abortion-inducing drugs in its employee health insurance plans. This marks the first complete victory in an order temporarily halting the mandate at the appeals court level.

Tyndale House Publishers, which publishes Bibles and other Christian materials, filed a lawsuit against the administration in October. A month later, a federal court temporarily halted the mandate as litigation in the case continues. The government filed an appeal in January.

“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,” said Matt Bowman senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), representing Tyndale. “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.”

Following the government’s request, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Friday dismissed the administration’s appeal. This means the preliminary injunction temporarily halting the mandate — as it applies to Tyndale — will stand as the case moves forward.

The Obama administration required most businesses to comply with the Health and Human Services mandate by August 2012. Some faith-based organizations — including hospitals and universities — have a so-called safe harbor until August of this year. Tyndale does not qualify for the extension.

Fifty-nine lawsuits are challenging the mandate. Courts have issued orders in 25 of these cases involving for-profit businesses. In all but six of those cases, injunctions were granted to temporarily halt the mandate.

ADF is litigating nine other lawsuits against the mandate.

“We will continue to argue that the administration cannot disregard the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom for all family business owners and must offer a comprehensive exemption to the mandate,” Bowman explained. 

The fight is far from over.

“This surrender on the part of the administration with regard to Tyndale, a for-profit company, exposes the weakness in the government’s position that for-profits cannot ‘exercise’ religion,” said CitizenLink Judicial Analyst Bruce Hausknecht. “I’m hopeful that the remaining ‘house of cards’ on which the HHS mandate stands, will collapse as well, and that a strong foundation for religious freedom will be established in its place.”

Read Tyndale House Publishers v. Sebelius.

Read the preliminary injunction order.

Read the dismissal of the government’s appeal.

Read the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty’s HHS Mandate Information Central.

Learn more about Tyndale House Publishers.