A federal court recently issued the fourth reprieve from a government mandate requiring most businesses offer contraceptives and possible abortion-inducing drugs under their respective insurance plans, forcing the owners of the fifth business—the largest and first non-Catholic to sue over the mandate—to violate their religious conscience.
Hobby Lobby, owned by an Evangelical family, filed a lawsuit against the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate on Sept. 12. On Nov. 19, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the store’s request for temporary relief from the mandate ruling that the owners’ religious beliefs were only “indirectly” burdened by the HHS mandate. A couple days later, Hobby Lobby filed an appeal to the 10th Circuit seeking relief from the mandate.
A ruling on the appeal has not yet been issued.
“The lower court’s decision in Hobby Lobby, denying relief, now stands alone,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberties, representing Hobby Lobby in the case. “That erroneous decision should not be permitted to leave Hobby Lobby to face the enormous government coercion from which four other courts have now protected similarly situated plaintiffs.”
Hercules Industries, a Catholic-owned air-conditioning manufacturer in Denver, received the first preliminary injunction from the HHS mandate in July. A few months later, a federal judge ruled halted the HHS mandate for Weingartz Supply Company, a Michigan business, also Catholic-owned.
The most recent decisions include a Nov. 16 ruling in favor of Tyndale House Publishers, a nonprofit that publishes Bibles and other Christian materials, and a court ruling last week issuing a reprieve from the HHS mandate for O’Brien Industries Holding, a Catholic-owned business in St. Louis, Mo.
The Obama administration gave most businesses until Aug. 1 to comply with the mandate. Some faith-based organizations get a so-called “safe-harbor,” and have until August 2013 to comply.
There are currently more than 110 plaintiffs in 40 separate cases suing the HHS mandate.
The Becket Fund, shortly after the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in O’Brien v. HHS on Nov. 28, urged the 10th Circuit to grant identical relief in their appeal on behalf of Hobby Lobby.
Emily Hardman, Becket Fund communications director told CitizenLink Hobby Lobby faces fines up to 1.3 million dollars a day if it refused to comply with the mandate.
“The government is essentially fining individuals to live their faith, and that goes against the Constitution and the right of free exercise,” Hardman said.Copyright (c) 2012, Focus on the Family, Focus on the Family Action. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. This is an article by Bethany Monk that appeared in CitizenLink Daily Update published on line 12/5/2012, a policy and culture information service of Focus on the Family. For more information, see http://www.citizenlink.com