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WASHINGTON, D.C., November 1, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In the newest victory for religious freedom in the U.S. judicial system, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of two Catholic business owners who are fighting the Health & Human Services (HHS) contraceptive, abortifacient, and sterilization mandate on Friday.

The case involved two Ohio brothers, Frank and Phil Gilardi, whom the mandate would force to either violate their consciences or face over $14 million in fines as they run their two businesses in the town of Sidney.

Justice Janice Rogers Brown wrote in the decision that “he burden of the HHS mandate “becomes substantial because the government commands compliance by giving the Gilardis a Hobson’s choice. They can either abide by the sacred tenets of their faith, pay a penalty of over $14 million, and cripple the companies they have spent a lifetime building, or they become complicit in a grave moral wrong.”

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“If that is not 'substantial pressure on an adherent to modify his behavior and to violate his beliefs,' we fail to see how the standard could be met,” she wrote.

The court had previously issued an injunction, providing temporary relief to the plaintiffs, who have 400 employees in their company.

Brown, an African-American woman, was appointed to the D.C. Appeals Court by President George W. Bush after a lengthy and often unseemly fight with members of the Democratic Party.

The American Center for Law and Justice represented the brothers.

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The decision comes as 18 states joined as signers of an amicus brief for the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the HHS mandate. That case is Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. Et Al, Petitioners vs. Kathleen Sebelius, Et Al. The ADF is representing Conestoga Wood Specialties, a kitchen cabinet maker in Pennsylvania, owned and operated by the Hahns, a Mennonite family.

The mandate has sparked dozens of lawsuits and nearly 40 court decisions. The Alliance Defending Freedom’s (ADF) official “scorecard” notes 32 of 37 decisions have gone against the HHS mandate.  

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