William, Paul and James Newland and their sister, Christine Ketterhagen, who together own Hercules Industries, have no right to conduct their family business in a manner that comports with their Catholic faith.
The federal government can and will compel them to either surrender their business or to engage in activities the Catholic faith teaches are intrinsically immoral.
This is exactly what President Barack Obama's Justice Department told a U.S. district court in a formal filing last week.
Never before has an administration taken such a bold step to strip Americans of the freedom of conscience...
The Newland family owns and operates Hercules Industries, a Colorado-based corporation that manufactures heating, ventilation and air-conditioning equipment. Through their hard work and dedication, and through their willingness to reinvest their own money in building their family business, they have managed to create jobs for 265 people while exerting a positive influence on the communities they serve.
The Newlands believe the morality the Catholic faith teaches them must animate their lives not only within the walls of the churches they attend, but literally everywhere else, as well -- in the way they deal with their families, their neighbors and, yes, their business.
The Newlands sued to protect their free exercise of religion in this regard because Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a regulation, under the Obamacare law, that requires virtually all health care plans to cover -- without cost-sharing -- sterilizations, artificial contraception and abortifacients.
Under Obamacare, businesses that employ more than 50 people must provide their employees with insurance or pay a penalty, and the required insurance must include the mandated cost-sharing-free coverage for sterilizations, artificial contraception and abortifacients.
At Hercules Industries, the Newlands provide a generous self-insured health-care plan to their employees. It does not cover sterilization, artificial contraception or abortifacients.
In response to the Newlands' complaint that ordering them to violate the teachings of the Catholic Church in the way they run their business is a violation of their First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion, the Obama administration told the federal court that a private business has no protection under the First Amendment's free exercise clause -- especially if the business is incorporated.
"The First Amendment Complaint does not allege that the company is affiliated with a formally religious entity such as a church," said the Justice Department. "Nor does it allege that the company employs persons of a particular faith. In short, Hercules Industries is plainly a for-profit, secular employer."
"By definition," said the Justice Department, "a secular employer does not engage in any 'exercise of religion.'"
"It is well established that a corporation and its owners are wholly separate entities, and the Court should not permit the Newlands to eliminate that legal separation to impose their personal religious beliefs on the corporate entity or its employees," said the Justice Department.
Land of the not so free, home of the oppressed.