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.
First Amendment rights are limited when there is a direct adverse effect on other people - like shouting "Fire" in a crowded theater when there is no fire. The choice of a business owner to offer or not offer specific employment benefits should not even require First Amendment protection. Note that there is no discrimination in the particular example of whether or not a health insurance plan covers abortion related medications. If anything, the plan discriminates against men since they don't get the same benefit.
Private health insurance plans have a variety of limitations and covered and non-covered items. Why is the government involved in this at all? There is no harm to the employee from not getting many particular benefits, since they may never even use it, and in this particular example the cost of the medicine in question is minimal, and the "benefit" not being offered to the employees is, taken over the whole of the employees, negligible. Nobody that is employed needs insurance to protect themselves from a $50.00 risk.
Put another way, the government is proposing millions of dollars of fines because the employer won't agree to pay for a $50.00 pill that some small percentage of its 13,000 employees may rarely buy. Assuming half of its employees are men, 6,500 employees could potentially use a morning after pill. But of the women, no doubt some are too old to need such a thing, and many are married and also not as likely to be interested in a morning after pill. Some women of course are already using birth control. So for the men, the benefit being "denied" is of no personal value. For the women, it is the probability that they need or want the morning after pill times its cost. Overall I doubt you can show any harm to any employee from the lack of the benefit, and hence logically there is no reason to compel insurance for it.
But that's not the logic behind the law. The goal of the law is to force acceptance of a particular political viewpoint advocated by liberal Democrats, using huge fines as the hammer to force people to give up their values and viewpoint.
Donald, neither insurance nor charity are contradictory to conservatism. EXCESSIVE TAXATION is contradictory to conservatism because it is INVOLUNTARY. Conservatism is defined by free people who are free to make their own decisions on how they run their own life.
Ask your liberal friends why health care should be the only industry funded by taxation and a single-payer system. Why not do the same with food, clothing, housing, education, transporation, news, entertainment, etc.? If the government is so good that they can give us better health care through single-payer than through any other economic system, why should we not entrust everything else we consume to their perfectly fair, efficient and effective central planning?
“if the employer doesn’t provide health insurance he should at least pay his employees enough so they can purchase their own”
He will, or he won’t have employees, or at least not not valuable employees. That’s how the labor market works. Unless it’s a crap job, in which case traditionally young and healthy people work them.
“I’m all for moving away from an employer/insurance model and for going directly to a single-payer system supported by tax revenues”
Why, on earth? That’s like curing a headache by hitting yourself in the head with a sledgehammer.
“as (my ultralib friends) keep reminding me, your argument above is also counter to the whole purpose of insurance, the spreading of burdensome costs.”
A lib would say that. In what world is voluntarily entering a scheme whereby you may end up paying for other people’s misfortunes or them yours counter to taking responsibility for your own life? Only an adolescent mind could see no difference between private risk hedging and burden spreading and the State stealing money from Peter to pay for Paul’s cancer.
There is something very wrong with the education and mental state of a man/judge who rules that organizations and probably by his rules individuals are now in the USA no longer allowed to follow their consciences as to established and inherent religious conscience. Something about all these status/power seeking people to become judges is becoming apparent. The USA would be better off with less judges who feel driven to shape society instead of wanting to abide by the limits granted supposedly by the people. Our sports ‘judges’ have more common sense than our ‘legal’ judges as to the job they are paid for.
Your logic is worse than that stink.
“Why not do the same with food, clothing, housing, education, transportation, news, entertainment, etc.?”
We already do it with education and to a certain extent all the rest. Nevertheless, shhh. Don’t give them ideas.
Okay....let's cut to the chase. You are nuts!!
OK, this is funny. My sister is a JW and believe me when I tell you, they are so cheap you’d be lucky to get any kind of insurance in the first place.
“We are a secular nation, not Christian (anymore) and at some point will probably be muslim”
So? You don’t hear people attacking the decision on grounds of the right to the free expression of Christianity. If a muslim retail store doesn’t want to sell pork, so be it.
“A precedent of limiting coverage on religious grounds is dangerous grounds to be on?”
Why? Do you imagine employers won’t let their staff buy condoms, receive blood transfusions, or whatever else superstition forbids? There’s an elegant solution, and one our civilization gas apparently forgotten: get another job! Better yet, let’s decide as a society to divorce the corrupt union of employment and insurance coverage.
They keep pissing off all the christians and every hobby lobby across the country will be set aflame by their own managers to send a message “we will not comply”...
Oh, you mean the IRS.
And to top it off...you have ultralib friends. Your words...not mine.
Friends? Ultralib? And you are here?
Donald...I think I've replied to you on another thread....and said the same thing.
You are not a Conservative! Period.
Let us hope, and pray, that the American people wake up to this gross usurpation of power by Obama, his accomplices in congress, and his courts.
Yep, that’s why I said “mostly”. The likelihood of having a daughter on insurance at that age would be minimal.
You wouldn’t want them to go to a leftist indoctrination center anyways, which is what most post secondary institutions are these days.
Single payer leads to an end to medical progress. The effective, expensive new medicine can’t be used because it is not on the formulary. The approved drugs and procedures will be the old ineffective ones.
The model for the single payer system is the old Soviet agricultural system.
I like Christian healthcare, miracles and more miracles. I think we have the best healthcare going, who else has brought back the dead, or made the lame to walk?
“No, they CANT force them to comply.
Hobby Lobby can re-arrange their business so that they are not covered by the law.”
Or they could simply shut the doors.