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.
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.
Nam era Army vet , a little later than you so know the feeling.
I’m 3rd generation. Grandad, infantry Europe, Dad , Navy Medic, Normandy, Africa, Europe, WW II.
We went for a higher goal, and in the service of those before us....
Few of our later year politicians know , nor care , of the courage/sacrifices made by us,and the current service members, so the rest can act like fools, and worry about Obamaphones.....
Put them, where we were, and see how fast the ACLU, Jesse J, Al S, Harry Reid,
Nancy P, Barry O, and Plugs Biden come running to their aid.....
WE know the truth of Bengahzi, and the rejection of that most sacred code
that “ no one gets left behind”
Thanks for your service, and a salute to the brave souls you described....
They are not forgotten
As usual, the non-liberal-agenda part of the article is way at the bottom.
Abortion is illegal in the Republic except where there is a real and substantial risk to the life, as distinct from the health, of the mother.
The doctors made a misdiagnosis of the woman's condition, as they sometimes do. They should be sued for malpractice as any doctor who makes a mistake that results in the patient's death should be.
Not to mention we don't let extremely rare cases define what our laws have to be for the entire country. If we did that, we'd have to legalize polygamy because of siamese twins who have two heads attached to one body. This woman's death is far outnumbered by the millions of unnecessary, unregulated killings of unborn babies performed in our country.
Shutter it up.
And the war ticks a little bit closer ...
Corporate profits are up 77.9% under President Obama, not to mention the trillions in cash they are sitting on, so I think businesses can afford to pay their employees more.
And which government regulations are you complaining about that is driving up health insurance costs so much?
Actually, the JW’s (and any other employer) should have the liberty to offer any kind of insurance they think best. If the prospective emplopyee doesn’t like the compensation package, he can bargain for a better one (e.g. no insurance but a correspondingly bigger paycheck), or -— if that proves fruitless — seek a better employer.
There's not a thing wrong with white-only businesses. Or black-only businesses. Or hetero-only businesses.
Either we have a right to free association or we don't.
Hobby Lobby should inform all of their employees the exact amount per month they pay for insurance. Then tell them they will be receiving pay raises equal to that amount but will no longer have insurance.
Since when does an employer have the obligation to provide anyone with health insurance? My company does not offer health insurance and I don’t feel one tiny bit oppressed or victimized.
When did we all start to believe that we have a right to insurance coverage provided by an employer? We don’t have such a right.
All the possible options -— lower hours below Obamacare thresholds, drop insurance and pay penalty, or choose to shut down -— represent huge burdens/penalties upon their workforce. I don’t blame Hobby Lobby for saying it’s wrong to coerce them this way, that they either have to violate their own ethical best-practices, or scr*w their employees.
Applause mixed with sorrow, but I understand.
Stupid question in these days when (un)crowded movie theatres all have fire suppression.
In a word.........NO.
Actually, the "right" people can get waivers.
Then ask your employer for a raise. Stop being a busybody and ignorantly intruding on your neighbor's life to find out if they're getting paid what you "think" they should be.
which government regulations are you complaining about that is driving up health insurance costs so much?
I notice you're not offering a denial of my statement, since you know it's true. Just take your pick out of Obamacare for starters. By requiring "children" be kept on their parents' plans until age 27, my costs go up to cover other people. By requiring birth control coverage, my costs go up to cover other people. Just look at any state and all the mandates they put on what health insurance must cover, stopping people from saving money on a more frugal plan. Or look at Medicare which underpays for services, forcing doctors to try to squeeze more money out of private insurance. Nevermind that not being able to sell insurance across state lines reduces competition and potential cost-savings there.
A recent study by the non-partisan, non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation shows that since the passage of Obamacare, family health insurance premiums have risen by $2370 despite being promised they would drop by $2500. The study predicts costs will climb even higher because of cumbersome mandates and lack of consumer choices in the law.
Good for you.
When did we all start to believe that we have a right to insurance coverage provided by an employer? We dont have such a right.
Employer provided health plans have been the norm for decades so that's the system we are dealing with. I never said employer provided health insurance was a right. In fact I believe I said in the post you responded to that if the employer doesn't provide health insurance he should at least pay his employees enough so they can purchase their own.
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.
The purpose of this HHS mandate is not to pay for access to contraceptives, which could hardly be more accessible if they were put in every bag of M&M's in America. The purpose of the HHS mandate is to esablish that the State can trump First Amendment rights for any one, at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all.
“I wonder what would happen if Hobby Lobby decided to pursue liquidation over this.”
My girlfriend would have to drive another 20 miles to a competing chain for craft stuff.
Ksen: this program is structured to force (or, to use Cass Sundstein’s word, “Nudge”) everybody into a single-payer system, a.k.a. a NHS-style system as in the U.K., with liberty neither for the employer, the health provider, nor the health consumer. And that’s what you say you “hope” for?
Thank you. This Benghazi fiasco is the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. Watching 4 Americans murdered over a 7 hour live feed while sitting on their fat, lazy asses is treasonous and contrary to all patriotic inclination. I can find no good words for these lying SOBs. I ask myself again, as I did when I returned from Nam,”Is this country worth the good men who sacrificed for it?”