ST. LOUIS, November 29, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – A federal appeals court has granted a motion for a preliminary injunction blocking the HHS mandate against a Missouri business owner.

The order, issued by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, is the first decision from an appeals court in the litigation challenging the HHS mandate.

The order, which puts the HHS mandate on hold pending the outcome of the appeals process, prohibits the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from requiring Frank R. O’Brien and O’Brien Industrial Holdings, LLC to comply with the mandate, which requires employers to purchase health insurance for their employees that includes coverage for contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.

O’Brien contends the mandate violates his constitutionally protected religious beliefs,

Francis Manion, Senior Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), who is representing O’Brien, called the decision “a significant victory for our client.”

“The order sends a message that the religious beliefs of employers must be respected by the government. We have argued from the beginning that employers like Frank O’Brien must be able to operate their business in a manner consistent with their moral values, not the values of the government. We look forward to this case moving forward and securing the constitutional rights of our client.”

In October, a federal district court judge granted the Obama administration’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The ACLJ filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

O’Brien, a Catholic, says his religious beliefs provide the framework for the operation of his businesses, which employ 87 people.

The lawsuit, which was filed in March 2012, marked the first legal challenge to the HHS mandate from a private business owner and his company. Until the suit was filed, only religious organizations or institutions brought lawsuits challenging the mandate.

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The company website states the OIH mission “is to make our labor a pleasing offering to the Lord while enriching our families and society.” OIH’s statement of the company’s values begins with the following: “Integrity. Our conduct is guided by the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments. We will not discriminate based on anyone’s personal belief system.”

O’Brien Industrial Holdings, LLC (OIH) is a holding company based in St. Louis, Missouri, which operates a number of businesses that explore, mine, and process refractory and ceramic raw materials.

In addition to the O’Brien case, the ACLJ has filed two other direct challenges to the HHS mandate and filed amicus briefs backing other challenges in more than a dozen cases.