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18 states encourage Supreme Court to hear Pa. abortion pill mandate case

Pa. Mennonite cabinetmakers seek high court protection
Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Burwell

WASHINGTON — Eighteen states are among the parties that filed briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court this week that encourage the high court to accept a Pa. family business’s lawsuit and declare the Obama administration’s abortion pill mandate unconstitutional.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent Conestoga Wood Specialties and the Hahn family, Mennonite cabinetmakers in Pennsylvania who appealed to the nation’s high court after a divided federal appellate court ruled against them. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit’s 2-1 decision runs counter to decisions issued in other circuits and to the vast majority of court rulings on the mandate so far.

“All Americans, including family business owners, should be free to live and do business according to their faith,” said Senior Counsel David Cortman. “The 18 states and other groups that filed briefs in support of this case all understand that a major aspect of freedom is at stake: if the government can force the Hahns to violate their faith just to engage in their livelihood, then the government can do the same or worse to others.”

“The question is whether the government can pick and choose what faith is, who the faithful are, and when and where they can exercise that faith,” added Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “The cost of religious freedom for the Hahn family and many other job creators across the country who face this mandate is severe. The potential for massive fines and lawsuits would cripple their businesses and threaten jobs.”

The mandate could cost the family nearly $3 million per month in fines if it doesn’t agree to live contrary to its Christian convictions. It forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy penalties by the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies if the mandate’s requirements aren’t met.

Conestoga Wood Specialties owners Norman Hahn, Elizabeth Hahn, Norman Lemar Hahn, Anthony H. Hahn, and Kevin Hahn are a practicing and believing Christian family. They desire to run the company, a wholesale manufacturer of custom wood cabinet parts, in a manner that reflects their sincerely held religious beliefs, including their belief that God requires respect for the sanctity of human life.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys are co-counsel in the case, Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius, together with allied attorneys Charles Proctor, III, with the Pennsylvania firm Proctor, Lindsay & Dixon, and Randall Wenger, chief counsel of the Independence Law Center.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and allied attorneys are also litigating 14 other lawsuits against the mandate. The lawsuits represent a large cross-section of Protestants and Catholics who object to the mandate.  

  • Video news release: Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius
  • Pronunciation guide: Bowman (BOH’-min), Wenger (WENG’-ur)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

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