A federal judge should dismiss a private company and its owners from a lawsuit challenging a government mandate that insurers provide coverage for so-called morning-after contraceptive drugs because, by law, the owners or management of a commercial enterprise can't impose their religious beliefs on their employees, the Justice Department argued in a court document filed Thursday.
The filing comes in Geneva College's challenge of the mandate. Seneca Hardware Lumber Co. in Cranberry and two of its owners, Wayne L. Helper and Carrie E. Kolesar, joined the Beaver Falls college's lawsuit in May.
The government contends the judge should dismiss the entire lawsuit because it's working on an exemption for religious nonprofits such as the college, which is affiliated with the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Even if U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti won't throw out the entire case, she should boot the lumber company, the government argues.
Allowing for-profit, secular companies to claim religious exemptions from commercial laws "would not only be unworkable, it would also cripple the government's ability to solve national problems through laws of general application," the government says in its filing.
The Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian group, is representing the college and company in the lawsuit. Gregory Baylor, the lawyer representing the company, couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
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