(CNSNews.com) – The Media Research Center (MRC) has filed a lawsuit in objection to the Obamacare mandate on contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs, calling upon the court to declare that the non-profit group qualifies for an exemption from the mandate as a self-certified religious organization as allowed by the regulation.
The MRC is the parent organization of CNSNews.com. The lawsuit and a motion for a preliminary injunction to block enforcement of the mandate were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. A hearing has been set for June 6.
“This lawsuit is about religious freedom and the conscience rights of individuals to operate their enterprises free from government coercion, reprisal, or punishment,” MRC Founder and President Brent Bozell said in a statement.
“The Obamacare mandate destroys the ability of free people to practice their faith in their everyday lives and forces them to either reject their faith or face crippling government imposed fines and punishment, in our case over $4.5 million dollars per year,” he said. “We do not stop being religious, moral people the moment we walk out of our houses of worship.”
The Health and Human Services-issued regulation requires nearly all employers to provide health insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization procedures, and abortion-inducing drugs.
“For nearly three decades, the MRC has been the nation’s premier defender of pro-life views and Judeo-Christian values from attacks by the liberal media,” reads the MRC statement. “Bozell and other employees of the MRC practice and live by Judeo-Christian values, and believe abortion, whether through the actions of an abortionist or a drug, is the taking of innocent human life.”
“Under the First Amendment, the MRC and its employees have the right to practice and abide by their faith in their everyday lives, including in the operations of their mission-oriented non-profit organization,” says the statement.
Exemptions from the mandate are allowed for churches or other “official” religious institutions and “eligible organizations.”
An employer can self-certify as an “eligible organization” if it opposes part or all of the mandate on religious grounds; operates as a non-profit; and holds itself out as a religious organization.
The latter part, holding itself out as a religious organization, apparently is vague under the law and the MRC is asking the court to declare that it qualifies as an “eligible organization.”
If the court rules that the MRC is not an eligible organization, the MRC believes that that Affordable Care Act violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because it would require the government to determine who is “religious enough” to qualify for an exemption. “Determining who is ‘religious enough’ is an unconstitutional entanglement in questions of religious doctrine and organization,” said the MRC.
Although the MRC has self-certified as an “eligible organization” exempt from the contraception mandate, barring a court ruling, if the MRC is later determined to be wrong by the current or some future administration, it would face fines of $12,500 a day or $4,562,500 a year, starting from May 1, 2014.
The case is Media Research Center v. Sebelius, et al, and the lawsuit was filed by the national law firm of LeClairRyan, with the assistance of the Fairfax, Va.-based firm Cook, Craig & Francuzenko, PLLC.