On Friday, November 1, 2013, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reversed the lower court’s denial of temporary relief to Francis and Phillip Gilardi in the case of Gilardi v. Department of Health and Human Services. The Gilardi brothers, who co-own two businesses, were faced with a difficult choice: change how they operate their business or pay a steep penalty for refusing to violate their moral beliefs. Citing John Locke, the Court said “penalties are impertinent if they are used to compel men ‘to quit the light of their own reason, and oppose the dictates of their own conscience.’” The court held that such a choice “trammels the right of free exercise - a right that lies at the core of our constitutional liberties.”
In response, Congressman J. Randy Forbes issued the following statement:
“Today, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia recognized the heavy burden that the HHS mandate places on the First Amendment freedoms of America’s business owners. The First Amendment guarantees that we have freedom to live our lives according to our religious beliefs and moral convictions, free from government coercion. This freedom is not abandoned simply because an individual enters the stream of commerce. I am encouraged by the Court’s strong affirmation of our fundamental constitutional rights. As a nation, our laws should encourage and support—not penalize—citizens who seek to consistently adhere to their moral convictions.”
Congressman Forbes is the Founder and Co-Chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, a bipartisan group of 100 Members of Congress committed to defending America’s heritage of religious freedom.
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