The man in the arena
Legatus is one of several groups suing the Obama administration over the HHS Mandate. . .
by Richard Thompson
When John Hunt relayed the message that the Thomas More Law Center was authorized to challenge the HHS mandate on behalf of Legatus, I realized we were mobilizing forces put into place years ago by one man — Tom Monaghan.
Long before this lawsuit, Monaghan had a sense of the importance of the culture war that had already begun — and the need for capable and passionate warriors armed with uncompromised faith to defend the Church. He understood that it meant little to claim a belief in our faith if we were not willing to act on those beliefs.
The culmination of that preparedness manifested itself in a lawsuit filed by the Thomas More Center on behalf of Legatus challenging the constitutionality of the HHS mandate. That mandate (if not overturned) will force Catholic employers to pay for and provide contraceptives and abortifacients to its employees starting in August.
Symbolically, we filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of Legatus on May 7, 2012, the date of the its 25th anniversary. Today, Legatus is one of the world’s most influential Catholic lay organizations. A second plaintiff in the lawsuit, Legate Dan Weingartz, was added to the case to insure that Michigan federal courts had jurisdiction. Back in 1998, Monaghan founded the Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm, as the Christian response to the ACLU. Since its founding, the Law Center has received recognition for its legal efforts on behalf of the religious liberty of Christians, time-honored family values and the sanctity of human life.
The lead counsel in the Legatus lawsuit is Erin Mersino, a 2007 graduate of Ave Maria School of Law. In this legal battle to protect the sanctity of life and freedom of conscience, it’s not surprising that an Ave Maria graduate is fighting on the front lines. Mersino’s education prepared her to combat the unconscionable governmental imposition of the HHS mandate head-on and with clear resolve. Acting as co-counsel is Chuck LiMandri, a member of Legatus’ San Diego Chapter and a member of Legatus’ Board of Governors.
Legatus, the Thomas More Law Center, and Ave Maria School of Law exist because Monaghan was willing to engage in a struggle for our culture and our country. Beginning with Legatus — inspired by his meeting with Blessed John Paul II in 1987 — Monaghan expanded his goal of bettering society to include education and the courtroom. The Law Center answered an important calling — to undo the anti-religious jurisprudence of the ACLU and Roe v. Wade.
Cardinal Raymond Burke confirmed Monaghan’s earlier premonitions. Last November, His Eminence told a Catholic News Agency reporter that Christian persecution is underway in the U.S. and that he could see Catholics being arrested for their faith. And in February, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago warned that “Catholics in this country are facing challenges to our institutional existence and our mission.”
The Thomas More Law Center was the first to file a lawsuit challenging ObamaCare — and the first to have its challenge reach the Supreme Court. In its case challenging the egregious aims of the HHS mandate on behalf of Legatus, the Law Center filed the only lawsuit thus far to bring two vital challenges before the court: the constitutionality of the HHS mandate as it pertains to non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations and, importantly, as it pertains to private, for profit businesses — the latter aspect being almost entirely ignored in the other lawsuits filed thus far against the mandate.
The Law Center succinctly sets forth its claim against the HHS mandate, “This is a case about religious freedom. Thomas Jefferson, a Founding Father of our country, principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and our third president, when describing the construct of our Constitution proclaimed, ‘No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority.’”
Recognizing the implications of our society’s trajectory and refusing to stand on the sidelines, a former Marine responded by helping to construct a Catholic sentinel for the future. That construct’s importance is now being fully realized in the culmination of our fight against the challenges now facing America, the Church and the Constitutional right to religious freedom.
Richard Thompson is the president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center.
This article is written as the nation eagerly awaits the Supreme Court’s decision on the constitutionality of ObamaCare. Since the HHS mandate is a provision under ObamaCare, it is possible that by the time this article is published, the HHS mandate may have been struck down by the Supreme Court. However, if the Supreme Court falls short of ruling that ObamaCare in its entirety is unconstitutional, the legal challenges to the HHS mandate will be fully litigated.