Appeals Court Temporarily Blocks HHS Mandate for St. Louis Private Business

by David French

The American Center for Law and Justice (my employer) yesterday obtained a temporary injunction from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit against the HHS contraception/abortifacient mandate on behalf of a private business owner, O’Brien Industrial Holdings LLC. This injunction represents the first appellate-level injunction against the mandate and is a dramatic reversal of fortune for the Obama administration. Just last month, the federal district court dismissed the lawsuit in its entirety, but yesterday’s brief ruling not only blocks the mandate on O’Brien, it provides encouraging signs for the ultimate outcome of the case.

The case — when filed — was the first challenge to the mandate filed by a private business owner. The district court dismissed the case, and O’Brien immediately appealed and filed a motion for an injunction against the mandate pending the appeal. It is that motion for an injunction the Eighth Circuit granted yesterday. To be clear, the ruling (its entirety: “Appellants’ motion for stay pending appeal has been considered by the court, and the motion is granted.  Judge Arnold dissents.”) doesn’t decide the case, it buys time for O’Brien while the case continues.

And not only does it do that, but such injunctions can’t be granted unless the moving party can demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits. Thus, the ruling provides an important hint as to the Court’s thinking.

Much work still needs to be done — not just in this case, but in the cases proliferating across the country. (ACLJ has filed two other direct challenges to the mandate and dozens of other challenges have been filed by other plaintiffs and legal organizations.) Yesterday’s ruling was one small step, but it was a step in the right direction. Congratulations to my ACLJ colleagues.

The Corner

The one and only.