Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Michigan judge nixes religious rights of business owner

A federal judge has rejected as “precedent” the Tenth Circuit’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case because the court was divided on the ruling.  So says Federal District Court Judge Paul Borman of the Eastern District of Michigan, in a ruling denying a business owner’s request for a temporary exemption from the Obama Administration’s HHS contraception mandate.

Judge Borman held that since the company is a for-profit business, the owners Karen and Rodney Mersino, are not entitled to the same religious freedoms as individuals.
 “Karen and Rodney Mersino, who are not required individually to comply with the regulations, do not suffer actual injury (they incur no out of pocket costs as individuals) from the contraceptive coverage mandate,” the judge wrote. “[The company], as a secular for profit company, cannot ‘exercise’ religion and cannot act as the alter ego of its owners in challenging the contraceptive mandate ... Nor can Karen and Rodney Mersino impute their own religious beliefs to their corporation so that the corporation can act as their alter ego and assert those rights on behalf of the Mersinos.”

Borman held that when the Mersinos chose to start a commercial business instead of a religious charity, they gave up their rights to run their organization in full compliance with their religious beliefs. 

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