Skip to comments.Judge: Obama Admin Can Force Hobby Lobby to Obey HHS Mandate
Posted on 11/20/2012 1:12:51 PM PST by NYer
A federal judge has issued a ruling siding with the Obama administration saying that it has the right to force Hobby Lobby, a Christian-owned and run company, to pay for drugs for women that may cause abortions.
The privately held retail chain with more than 500 arts and crafts stores in 41 states filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its HHS mandate. The company says it would face $1.3 million in fines on a daily basis starting in January if it fails to comply with the mandate, which requires religious employers to pay for or refer women for abortion-cause drugs that violate their conscience or religious beliefs.
The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma and the business says it is opposing the Health and Human Services preventive services mandate, which it says forces the Christian-owned-and-operated business to provide, without co-pay, the morning after pill and week after pill in their health insurance plan, or face crippling fines up to 1.3 million dollars per day.
By being required to make a choice between sacrificing our faith or paying millions of dollars in fines, we essentially must choose which poison pill to swallow, said David Green, Hobby Lobby CEO and founder. We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.
However, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton issued a ruling late Monday rejecting Hobby Lobby’s request to block the mandate. Judge Heaton said that the company doesn’t qualify for an exemption because it is not a church or religious group.
“Plaintiffs have not cited, and the court has not found, any case concluding that secular, for-profit corporations such as Hobby Lobby and Mardel have a constitutional right to the free exercise of religion,” the ruling said.
Heaton wrote that “the court is not unsympathetic” to the company’s desire to not pay for abortion-causing drugs but he said the Obamacare law
“results in concerns and issues not previously confronted by companies or their owners.”
“The question of whether the Greens can establish a free exercise constitutional violation by reason of restrictions or requirements imposed on general business corporations they own or control involves largely uncharted waters,” Heaton wrote.
Hobby Lobby plans to appeal the ruling, according to a pro-life legal group that notified LifeNews of the ruling.
“Every American, including family business owners like the Greens, should be free to live and do business according to their religious beliefs,” Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said. We disagree with this decision and we will immediately appeal it.”
The court did not question that the Green family has sincere religious beliefs forbidding them from participating in abortion. The court ruled, however, that those beliefs were only indirectly burdened by the mandates requirement that they provide free coverage for specific, abortion-inducing drugs in Hobby Lobbys self-funded insurance plan.
Duncan previously talked about what the Obama administration told the court:
The administrations arguments in this case are shocking. Heres what they are saying: once someone starts a secular business, he categorically loses any right to run that business in accordance with his conscience. The business owner simply leaves her First Amendment rights at home when she goes to work at the business she built. Kosher butchers around the country must be shocked to find that they now run secular businesses. On this view of the world, even a seller of Bibles is secular. Hobby Lobbys affiliate, Mardel, sells Bibles and other Christian-themed material, but because it makes a profit the government has now declared it secular.
The administrations position here while astonishing is actually consistent with its overall view of the place of religion in civil society. After all, this is the administration who argued in the Hosanna-Tabor case last year in the Supreme Court that the religion clauses of the First Amendment offered no special protection to a churchs right to choose its ministers a position that the Court rejected 9-0. This is the administration which has taken to referring to freedom of worship instead of freedom of religion suggesting that religious freedom consists in being free to engage in private rituals and prayers, but not in carrying your religious convictions into public life. And this is the administration who crafted a religious employer exemption to the HHS mandate so narrow that a Catholic charity does not qualify for conscience protection if it serves non-Catholic poor people.
As you point out, the administration is trying to justify its rigid stance against religious business owners by saying otherwise they would become a law unto themselves, and be able to do all sorts of nasty things to their employees like force them to attend Bible studies, or fire them if they denied the divinity of Christ. Nonsense. Hobby Lobby isnt arguing for the right to impose the Greens religion on employees, nor for the right to fire employees of different religions. Theres already a federal law that protects employees from religious discrimination and thats a very good thing. This case is about something entirely different: its about stopping the government from coercing religious business owners. The government wants to fine the Greens if they do not violate their own faith by handing out free abortion drugs, and now its saying they dont even have the right to complain in court about it
Duncan said the onerous provisions of the HHS mandate will hit Hobby Lobby in about two months on January 1, 2013. At that point, it will face the choice of dropping employee health insurance altogether (and paying about $26 million a year in penalties), or continuing its current plan (which will expose it to about $1.3 million in fines per day). So it is not hard to imagine why the Greens felt they had no choice but to go to court.
There are now 40 separate lawsuits challenging the HHS mandate, which is a regulation under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). The Becket Fund led the charge against the unconstitutional HHS mandate, and along with Hobby Lobby represents: Wheaton College, East Texas Baptist University, Houston Baptist University, Belmont Abbey College, Colorado Christian University, the Eternal Word Television Network, and Ave Maria University.
Hobby Lobby is the largest and the biggest non-Catholic-owned business to file a lawsuit against the HHS mandate, focusing sharp criticism on the administrations regulation that forces all companies, regardless of religious conviction, to cover abortion-inducing drugs. It has faced a small boycott from liberals upset that it would challenge the mandate in court.
The Obama admin says there is an exemption in the statute but Duncan says that is not acceptable.
The safe harbors protection is illusory, said Duncan. Even though the government wont make religious colleges pay crippling fines this year, private lawsuits can still be brought, schools are at a competitive disadvantage for hiring and retaining faculty, and employees face the specter of battling chronic conditions without access to affordable care. This mandate puts these religious schools in an impossible position.
Last week, a federal court stopped enforcement of the Obama administrations abortion pill mandate against a Bible publisher which filed a lawsuit against it — the third such victory.
and Atlas Shrugged
There goes religious freedom.
I would not comply with this.
As a VietNam vet who had 5 dead Americans on the tailgate of my APC during TET 1968 while still in hostile contact with the enemy, I feel the same way.
Since when is it the government's job to make it illegal to offer certain kinds of health insurance policies? If the employee doesn't like the health insurance policy offered, just as if they don't like the salary or vacation hours offered, they're free to work somewhere else.
What if the government required all health insurance policies to cover female circumcision as an option for girls? Would you be okay with that?
what is going to happen is that those that have lower end jobs, will end up working 29 hours or less a week to keep the employer from paying for the health care cost.
we will people working at least two jobs to be able to support themselves without benefits.
alot of these businesses will have more employees working for the same hours available.
business owners are logical. politicians are not.
Those corporations shouldn't be allowed to discriminate against everyone else by operating a segment of their business according to religious standards and not tailoring other plans for other religions.
I am shrugging next year when I shut down 40 years of a family business that obama killed. I am John Galt.
The whole point of the article is the First Amendment angle. Is there no limit to your First Amendment rights when they start adversely affecting the lives of other people?
I don’t think that anyone ever tried to defend a whites only hiring policy on the basis of religious conscience. Actually the most egregious example of a whites only hiring policy was the Electrical Workers and Machinist Union and I don’t think that they claimed any religious exemption.
Remember, the racists were mostly Democrats.
Businesses that have these rulings inflicted on them should turn health care into a profit center for themselves by adding a 100% mark-up on the policy they provide top their employees. It’s time for the voters/employees to suffer the consequences of their decisions.
There are an awful lot of things I would do before killing a baby. Basically, no judge could make me ~ not under any conditions ~ not ever.
When is this nightmare going to end!?
Actually, he (Muslim or otherwise) is required by the government to provide its employees with free contraception and/or abortions, regardless of their religious principles.
“has the right to force”
All you need to know about 0bama and the Federal government in 5 words.
I draw the line at killing babies. The judge says the governmet stepped over the line. He, though, does not draw the line at killing babies ~ and that's a problem.
I hope your buddies in business do this because that will hasten the creation of a true single-payer system in this country since obviously the wonderfully benevolent job creators can’t be bothered to either provide adequate policies on their own or pay their employees enough so they can go out and get their own policy.
Since when does freedom of religion depend on us being a religious organization?? This is outrageous and unconstitutional. I refuse to fund abortions. FUBO.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.