Late last week, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a preliminary injunction temporarily halting enforcement of the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate against Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., as the lawsuit continues. This is the third such injunction issued against the mandate to date and the second to be obtained by the Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of its clients.
Judge Reggie Walton observed that “the beliefs of Tyndale and its owners are indistinguishable….Christian principles, prayer, and activities are pervasive at Tyndale, and the company’s ownership structure is designed to ensure that it never strays from its faith-oriented mission.” The court had no doubt “that Tyndale’s objection to providing the abortion drug coverage reflected the beliefs of its owners.” Accordingly, Judge Walton found that the company could properly assert its owners’ free exercise claims in court.
Judge Walton recognized the substantial burden on Tyndale’s free exercise of religion posed by the threat of enormous fines for non-compliance. The government’s interest in enforcing the mandate against the company and its owners was unlikely to overcome that burden, he noted, particularly considering the numerous exemptions already granted to other employers.