Hobby Lobby Challenges Mandate
Special Report - September 14, 2012
This week, Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., became the first private business operated by non-Catholics to challenge the controversial federal mandate that requires nearly all employers to provide health insurance that includes coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception. Should the company refuse to comply with the new healthcare law’s requirement to provide such coverage without a co-pay, they could face fines up to $1.3 million per day. On September 12, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed a lawsuit on behalf of the retail chain in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, arguing that the requirement “would force religiously-motivated business owners like [Hobby Lobby] to violate their faith under threat of millions of dollars in fines.” In the lawsuit, Hobby Lobby argues that the mandate violates the First and Fifth Amendments, as well as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Hobby Lobby was founded in 1970, and continues to be owned and operated by the Green family, who are strong Christians. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, the company “currently operates over 500 stores in over 40 states and has over 13,000 full-time employees.” The company’s stores are closed on Sundays, and pay a minimum wage well-above the national average. Full-time chaplains are on staff to serve the “spiritual and emotional needs” of employees. The lawsuit states that, “The Green family’s religious beliefs forbid them from participating in, providing access to, paying for, training others to engage in, or otherwise supporting abortion-causing drugs and devices.”
The Greens object to the mandate on the grounds that it “illegally and unconstitutionally coerces [them] to violate their deeply-held religious beliefs under threat of heavy fines, penalties, and lawsuits.” Additionally, such a mandate “forces the Green family to facilitate government-dictated speech incompatible with their own speech and religious beliefs. Having to pay fines for the privilege of practicing one’s religion or controlling one’s speech is alien to our American traditions of individual liberty, religious tolerance, and limited government. It is also illegal and unconstitutional.”
The suit also contends that the means by which the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has determined which plans and which employers are exempted from the mandate are arbitrary, and do not apply fairly and equally to all Americans.
Hobby Lobby’s case is the 28th separate lawsuit filed to challenge the HHS mandate, according to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. This is the first challenge filed by a non-Catholic business. Several Protestant schools have also filed suit. The Becket Fund is representing at least five challengers of the mandate in addition to Hobby Lobby.
“Government laws and regulations should never force individuals or companies to undertake actions that are in direct contradiction with long held religious beliefs," said Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “We applaud the owners of the Hobby Lobby Company for standing up to the federal government on this issue, and call on Congress to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act."
Contraception Mandate Still Controversial - August 28, 2012
Bishops Urge Action On Mandate - July 31, 2012
Belmont Mandate Lawsuit Dismissed - July 23, 2012
More Oppose Contraceptive Mandate - June 19, 2012
43 Catholic Groups Challenge Mandate - May 23, 2012
HHS Rule Requires Abortion Mandate - March 20, 2012
Majority Oppose Contraceptive Mandate - March 16, 2012
Seven States Challenge Contraceptive Mandate - February 27, 2012
Insurance "Accommodation" Unsatisfactory - February 15, 2012
Religious Leaders Oppose Mandate - January 31, 2012
Feds Keep Contraceptive Mandate - January 23, 2012
Evangelical College Joins Contraceptive Challenge - December 29, 2011
College Challenges Contraceptive Mandate - November 14, 2011
Administration Requires Free Contraception- August 4, 2011
Becket Fund Defends Belmont Abbey - October 12, 2009
Federal Agency Mandates Abortion Coverage - August 17, 2009
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