Another Victory for the 1st Amendment

AP is reporting it.

US District Judge Lawrence Zatkoff granted a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the contraception provision of the law against Tom Monaghan and Domino’s Farms Corp, a management company located near Ann Arbor, MI.

HHS had argued from the outset that its contraceptive rule was not an infringement on Monaghan’s religious freedom.  HHS continued, additionally, to elide the other religious freedom clause in the 1st Amendment—that minor bit about government not being able to interfere with the free exercise of religion.  Zatkoff waved the BS flag at all of that.

Plaintiffs’ constitutional right to freely exercise religion is at issue in this case. It is in the best interest of the public that Monaghan not be compelled to act in conflict with his religious beliefs.

And

Finally, the Court must balance the harm to Plaintiffs if the injunction is denied with the harm to the Government if the injunction is granted.

As discussed above, denying Plaintiffs’ motion will result in a substantial burden on Monaghan’s

right to free exercise of religion, since the mandate requires him to choose whether to comply and violate his beliefs, or accept the financial consequences of not doing so.  And, as noted, such an infringement upon Plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights—even if for a short time—constitutes irreparable injury.

The Government will suffer some, but comparatively minimal harm if the injunction is granted.

It really is that simple.

Nevertheless, the government made its argument.  The health care law and HHS’ rule, they insisted,

are narrowly tailored to serve two compelling government interests: improving the health of women and children, and equalizing the provision of preventive care for women and men so that women who choose to can be a part of the workforce on an equal playing field with men.

The fact is, though, this cynical argument doesn’t hold water.  In the first place, contraceptives are not health care, except to the extent that some religious groups argue that contraceptives run counter to children’s health by preventing their existence in the first place.

Additionally, the availability of contraceptives at others’ expense has nothing to do with “equal playing fields.”  Further, non-market oriented coverage, barring risk-based premiums, or violating religious freedom have nothing to do with “equal playing fields” from individual Americans’ perspective.

However, any government intrusion into the religious freedoms of individual Americans has everything to do with “equal playing fields” by tilting those fields toward government-favored groups.  Any government intrusion into a free market—including into the insurance (risk transfer for a fee) industry—has everything to do with “equal playing fields” by tilting the fields toward government-favored groups.

Zatkoff’s ruling can be read here.  Easter came early last week.

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