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.
The First Amendment places no restrictions on the actions, behavior, or beliefs of individuals or business owners.
100% of the restrictions imposed by the First Amendment are placed on the Congress of the United States of America.
“But I’m all for moving away from an employer/insurance model and for going directly to a single-payer system supported by tax revenues. “
I’m for breaking away from employer based pools as well but not so sure about single payer. I would pool people by zip code or something and pay for it by subscription, just like we do cable tv, gas, water, etc.
For now though, employer based is what we have and don’t think having comparable plans across employers for legal procedures is too much to ask. We are a secular nation, not Christian (anymore) and at some point will probably be muslim. A precedent of limiting coverage on religious grounds is dangerous ground to be on. If a business owner does not want to purchase something, that is fine, but if a business is incorporated and seen by the gov as a separate person, and if the gov is saying that incorporated person needs to offer x coverage, then so be it. It is the law and if it is not liked, go to congress to have it changed.
Good. I hope millions of employees all over the country get hurt.
Then maybe they’ll pull their heads out of their butts.
But then, all persons resident in Ireland are entitled to receive health care through the public health care system, which is managed by the Health Service Executive and funded by general taxation. It's, sadly, not at all surprising that they declined to treat her on her first visit. Such under-treatment is all to common with this kind of system. Savita was a victim of medical malpractice, not ethics.
I think it would be very liberating for the employer and the health consumers. For the employers because they wouldn't have to worry about providing health insurance for their employees and could spend more time focused on their business. For the health consumer because he would no longer have to worry about medical bankruptcy.
And thats what you say you hope for?
Muslims will get a pass.
That is a fascinatingly stupid statement given Muslims are exempted from Bobocare...
They are exempted, but they are not making decisions that effect your healthcare, but they eventually will be.
Simply discontinue employer-sponsored insurance.
Are you insane? Off your meds? You acknowledge that we might be majority muslim someday and still don't see the problem in allowing muslims to force on every other religion their own dictates? You don't want a religious exemption to be available so youre future female descendants aren't mandated to have female circumcision? Being forced to practice someone else's religious beliefs, as the abortion mandate does, is as unamerican as it gets.
Savita is just the latest victim of the poor quality care inherent to socialized medicine.
Go back and read what I said. We do not want religious dictates, Christina or muslim, do be defining what our healthcare looks like.
I think if I was in Hobby Lobby’s situation I would change employees by attrition. Let them go and rehire people over the age of 50. That would eliminate paying for any abortions for employees and most of their daughters. Older folks make good employees. Any heavy lifting needed could be done by temp workers.
What is "liberating" about having the government confiscate an ever-increasing portion of the fruits of your labor to redistribute to people who stay home and sit on their butts all day? This is a lot closer to the definition of slavery than liberty. The modern working man is already a tax slave.
You won't have to worry about medical bankruptcy, because there won't be any quality health care services around for you to pay for. You'll have the right to stand in line alongside the local welfare bum for poor quality care. At least until you're old enough where care will be denied in favor of euthanasia, or if you prefer a slow death of natural causes.
A muslim barber shop refused to cut the hair of a woman last week. She is suing them for discrimination.
Love it when a plan comes together! (George Peppard). I miss him.
Don’t be surprised if it happens.
Wait until everything is Obamacare & we find out that every single medical loction has to have a staff of female doctors, anesthesiologists, etc, because no Muslim woman can be treated by a male.......