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Hobby Lobby Gains Ground In Suit Opposing Obamacare Contraception Mandate

July 24, 2013 by  

Hobby Lobby Gains Ground In Suit Opposing Obamacare Contraception Mandate
PHOTOS.COM

Hobby Lobby, the 550-store, 13,000-employee Christian-owned arts and crafts retail chain at the center of a legal fight over a contraception mandate within the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, won a temporary victory over the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last week after a court issued a preliminary injunction permitting the company to omit birth control from its employee  health plan.

U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton read his decision from the bench, saying there exists “a substantial public interest in ensuring that no individual or corporation has their legs cut out from under them while these difficult issues are resolved.”

Without a court order in place to keep Federal penalties at bay while the company’s lawsuit against HHS moves forward, Hobby Lobby’s owners faced a possible $1.3 million in daily fines.

The ruling doesn’t address the merits of the case, but it does move the suit one step closer to a definitive and potentially far-reaching resolution, as the Obama Administration considers an early petition before the U.S. Supreme Court in the hope of obtaining a ruling that forces company owners to extend “preventive” coverage for contraception in violation of their religious beliefs.

The injunction, which also applies to the affiliated chain of Mardel Christian bookstores, has the additional effect of demonstrating that a Court can regard a privately held company as a “person” in affirming the application of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. Nationwide, there are more than 60 other companies challenging the HHS contraception mandate.

Because the injunction doesn’t set a definitive precedent and serves only to relieve an undue burden during ongoing litigation in this case alone, it doesn’t excuse those companies from applying the mandate or from facing fines; rather, each would have to win a similar court-ordered injunction separately or simply wait for the mandate to be declared unConstitutional.

Heaton delayed the case until October, which allows the Obama Administration time to weigh whether to mount an appeal.

Hobby Lobby’s owners have stated publicly that providing coverage for contraception that includes morning-after pregnancy-ending pills conflicts with their religion-based moral convictions.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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