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Hastings car dealer files suit to fight ACA contraception mandate

A federal lawsuit was filed today on behalf of Hastings Ford and Hastings Chrysler Center owner Doug Erickson, saying that a provision of the Affordable Care Act requiring him to provide contraception to employees forces him to violate his religious beliefs.

Attorneys from Liberty Institute, a conservative Christian advocacy and legal organization, along with Minnesota attorneys Kathryn Nash and Meghann Kantke, filed the lawsuit, which seeks a preliminary and a permanent injunction against the contraception mandate because the provision of the ACA violates federal constitutional and statutory law.

It says:

Plaintiffs base their challenge on their sincerely held religious belief that life begins at conception and certain of the FDA-approved contraceptive methods, such as emergency contraceptives Plan B and ella, as well as certain intrauterine devices (“IUDs”), can destroy a human embryo.

Plaintiffs believe that it is immoral and sinful for them to provide a group health plan that includes coverage for such contraceptive methods.

The suit says Erickson, who has long owned the Ford and Chrysler dealerships, became a born-again Christian in the 1990s. He says he uses a “marketplace ministry,” which means “he seeks to serve Christ first and foremost and show the light of Christ to those with whom he comes in contact, such as customers and employees.”

The lawsuit asks the court to declare the mandate violates:

  • The Religious Freedom Restoration Act;
  • The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution;
  • The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution;
  • The Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution;
  • The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Robert Franklin on 01/30/2014 - 03:49 pm.

    For whom?

    This whole controversy seems to pose the question: Is the purpose of employer-provided health care to serve the health of the employer or the health of the employee?

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 01/30/2014 - 04:27 pm.

      We need to move away

      from employer-provided health insurance and make it more like how we purchase car insurance. I don’t have to change my car insurance just because I change jobs.

  2. Submitted by Amy Farland on 02/01/2014 - 03:27 pm.


    one place i will never shop. hope Ford takes his dealership away.

  3. Submitted by Amy Farland on 02/01/2014 - 03:38 pm.


    Patriarchy and misogyny are not religions.

  4. Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 02/02/2014 - 11:57 pm.

    Would he object to employees using their paycheck?

    It isn’t the employer’s insurance. It’s the employees’ insurance. It’s part of their compensation. An employer should get no more to say about how employees use their insurance than about how employees spend their paychecks. If the employer takes the attitude that he’s providing contraceptives by providing insurance, why can’t he claim to be providing contraceptives when he signs a paycheck? By his logic, he should be able to dictate how his employees spend their pay. Who would stand for that?

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