Federal court halts enforcement of HHS mandate against Hobby Lobby
CWN - July 01, 2013
In a 5-3 decision, the US Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Hobby Lobby Stores and Mardel, a related family-owned corporation that sells Christian books, were likely to succeed in their lawsuit against the HHS mandate. Following the ruling, a lower court issued a temporary restraining order barring enforcement of the mandate against the companies.
“Hobby Lobby and the Green family faced the terrible choice of violating their faith or paying massive fines,” said Kyle Duncan of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents Hobby Lobby. “We are delighted that both the 10th Circuit and the district court have spared them from this unjust burden on their religious freedom.”
David Green, who founded Hobby Lobby, is an evangelical Christian.
“The plaintiffs brought an action challenging a regulation that requires them, beginning July 1, 2013, to provide certain contraceptive services as a part of their employer-sponsored health care plan,” the appeals court noted in its decision. “Among these services are drugs and devices that the plaintiffs believe to be abortifacients, the use of which is contrary to their faith.”
The appeals court ruled that
Congress did not exclude for-profit corporations from RFRA’s [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act’s] protections. Such corporations can be “persons” exercising religion for purposes of the statute … It is beyond question that associations—not just individuals—have Free Exercise rights.
[T]he protections of the Religion Clauses extend beyond the walls of a church, synagogue, or mosque to religiously motivated conduct, as well as religious belief … [S]incerely religious persons could find a connection between the exercise of religion and the pursuit of profit. Would an incorporated kosher butcher really have no claim to challenge a regulation mandating non-kosher butchering practices?
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