Court Favors With Hobby Lobby in HHS Mandate

Hobby LobbyA number of conservative advocates applaud the U.S. Tenth District Court of Appeals June 28 ruling which reversed a lower court ruling denying a preliminary injunction to Oklahoma City-based crafts store Hobby Lobby and its sister company, Mardel. In its lawsuit the craft store challenged the Obama administration’s Health and Human Services (HHS) employer mandate requiring insurance coverage for drugs that may cause an abortion.

Ashley McGuire, senior fellow with The Catholic Association, considers the ruling a major step forward for issues of religious liberty.

 “I think this is just sort of another ding against the Obama administration showing the courts are really heavily favoring the plaintiffs.”

The Catholic Church has been on the front lines fighting the HHS mandate. McGuire said the stakes were high as Hobby Lobby faced paying fines up to 1.3 million a day.

Under the health care coverage mandate issued on August 3, 2011, organizations and their managers are now facing potentially ruinous financial penalties for exercising their First Amendment rights, as protected by law. The Obama Administration’s HHS mandate exemption only includes houses of worship and does not account for the thousands of religious and non-religious affiliated employers like Hobby Lobby that find it a moral hazard to cover sterilization, contraception and potentially abortion-inducing drugs on their employer-based health insurance.

“I think it sends a strong signal to other cases,” said McGuire. “I see a huge second wave of these cases on August 1 when the mandate goes into affect for nonprofit employers where the bulk of the lawsuits are. I’m optimistic that this does send a signal to different courts handling the for profits cases, but also to the courts that are going to be handling the non-for-profit cases which many think is an even more clear cut violation of religious freedom.”

Reps Diane Black (R-TN), John Fleming, M.D. (R-LA), and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) authored H.R. 940, the Health Care Conscience Rights Act legislation providing full exemption from the Obama Administration’s Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate. It enforces conscience protections for individuals and health care entities that refuse to provide, pay for, or refer patients to abortion providers because of their deeply-held, reasoned beliefs.

“As someone who has been fighting to stop the Obama administration’s assault on religious freedom since taking the oath of office, today’s (June 28, 2013) court ruling is a welcome development,” said Congressman Black. “The Court of Appeals properly recognized today that being an American means being able to freely choose our faith and live by the dictates of that faith at home, at church, and in the public square. While we celebrate this decision, we know that the fate of Hobby Lobby and other organizations with objections to the Obama administration’s HHS mandate is still uncertain.”

In it’s ruling, the 10th Circuit cited a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court conclusion that for-profit corporations have rights to political expression.