Yesterday, the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) filed a new lawsuit on behalf of several Catholic organizations in federal court, challenging the final regulations enforcing the Obamacare contraceptive services mandate against religious organizations. Last year, I discussed in numerous posts the lawsuits filed by religious organizations seeking to overturn the regulations prior to their final release. Faith-based groups and their allies across America are protesting the Obamacare-based mandate to force the provision of abortion-inducing drugs and devices through health insurance policies. If successful, the mandate would serve as the template for Uncle Sam to define any religious organization as it sees fit, and to dictate hiring, financial, and all organizational decisions.
AFLC is one of the groups I informally call the “Trial Lawyers For Religious Liberty,” along with the Alliance Defending Freedom, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the American Center for Law and Justice, and Liberty Counsel. These groups, usually allied with social conservative activists and politicians, file civil suits to defend religious liberty and other freedoms protected in the Bill of Rights.
And they often request jury trials for their lawsuits, as is their prerogative under the 7th Amendment. When over 40 Catholic organizations sued to block the mandate, they cited Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 38: “Pursuant to Rule 38 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Plaintiffs hereby demand a trial by jury of all issues so triable.” That rule begins as follows:
“(a) RIGHT PRESERVED. The right of trial by jury as declared by the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution–or as provided by a federal statute–is preserved to the parties inviolate.”
Some of these cases await a ruling to proceed, while others were dismissed over procedural issues. Personally, I would love to see a jury of Americans hear these cases and decide on the merits.
The Founding Fathers designed a civil justice system, rooted in the right to a jury trial for civil suits, for all cases and causes. Whether for religious liberty, property rights and free speech rights, or for medical malpractice and products liability claims, all civil claims are treated equally under the Founders’ grand design. They would never have supported a “tort reform” movement that seeks to protect doctors and hospitals from deadly negligence, because they knew that abridging Constitutional rights for some endangers the rights of all Americans.