A Federal Court Win for Religious Liberty: Lawyer for Gilardi Brothers Reacts

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

Francis Manion is a lawyer from the American Center for Law and Justice representing Frank and Phil Gilardi who run Freshway Foods in Ohio. He shares his reaction to today’s D.C. circuit ruling against the Department of Health and Human Services abortion-drug, contraception, female sterilization mandate to National Review Online.


KJL: How significant a win is this?

MANION: It’s a very significant win if for no other reason than it comes from the D.C. Circuit, a court usually viewed as “influential.” Still, the fact that the Court did not find that the Gilardis’ companies as such have free-exercise rights (as opposed to the Gilardis who do) means we will be asking SCOTUS to review that question (along with Hobby Lobby, Autocam, Conestoga, etc.)


KJL: What do you make of the use of the word “trammel”?

MANION: It’s a word that forcefully conveys the egregious nature of the power grab that is the HHS Mandate. (He was also a great shortstop for the Tigers.)


KJL: What do you make of the divided nature of the panel’s ruling?

MANION: Expected to a large extent. These cases tend to sharply divide courts.


KJL: What does this mean for Frank O’Brien and others asking the courts for protection from the HHS Mandate?

MANION: It’s another persuasive precedent that can be cited to the courts hearing those cases.


KJL: Did anything surprise you about today’s news?

MANION: Perhaps only that the Court did not go so far as to recognize the companies’ independent free exercie rights. It seems clear that Judge Brown was receptive to our arguments, but was reluctant to take a step that SCOTUS has not yet explicitly taken. I agree with Judge Randolph that the Court should not have punted on that issue.


KJL: There has been a lot of misleading information about this particular regulation? Why should every American be relieved by today’s ruling, whatever the think of contraception, abortion, Catholicism, religion – why should people of any and no religion care?

MANION: The HHS mandate is unprecedented in the scope of its intrusion into citizens’ religious liberty. Ever since Roe, et al. Congress has essentially followed a “live and let live” approach to issues of forcing people to pay for other people’s reproductive health-decisions. Conscience rights have been, for the most part, respected by parties on opposite sides of the underlying moral issues. The HHS mandate is a dangerous repudiation of that approach.



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