Eden Foods in court Oct. 2

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CLINTON — October 2 is the date for a federal appeals court to hear arguments on Eden Foods’ request for a preliminary injunction. The Clinton company and its owner, Michael Potter, want exemption from federal requirements to provide birth control coverage to employees as part of its health insurance package.

Potter’s suit, filed in March, says the contraception requirement in the new health care law goes against his Catholic religious beliefs. Judge Denise Page Hood denied a motion for preliminary injunction, ruling federal courts stated the contraception mandate applies to corporations and does not violate religious beliefs of individuals.

In July, the government was supported by 14 civil rights and religious groups through the filing of amicus briefs. Nine different religious rights groups have supported Eden’s appeal.

Claims of discrimination have been leveled against Potter and Eden Foods. Michael Steinberg, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), filed a brief in the case accusing Eden Foods of using freedom of religion to excuse itself from laws of anti-discrimination.

Eden Foods attorney Erin Mersino of the Thomas More Law Center filed a response on August 8 denying discrimination is the intent of the lawsuit. The purpose of the lawsuit, according to Mersino’s filing, is to protect the company from unwanted government intrusion. The company argues contraception should be free for women through tax credits or existing health programs. Until October 2, when the appeals court reviews the temporary injunction requested by Eden Foods, the case is on hold.

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