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Hobby Lobby Ignores Contraception Mandate

Hobby Lobby is not happy at all.

Perhaps it’s due to the denial of their emergency injunction and order that the company comply with the Contraceptive Mandate under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) and provide contraception coverage to their employees as they pursue further litigation. The company pursued this case through the lower courts, being denied most of the way, although there was a brief injunction which was then reversed.

Justice Sotomayor stated in her Opinion:

Applicants do not satisfy the demanding standard for the extraordinary relief they seek…This Court has not previously addressed similar RFRA or free exercise claims brought by closely held for-profit corporations and their controlling shareholders alleging that the mandatory provision of certain employee benefits substantially burdens their exercise of religion…Moreover, the applicants correctly recognize that lower courts have diverged on whether to grant temporary injunctive relief to similarly situated plaintiffs raising similar claims, Application for Injunction Pending Appellate Review 25–26, and no court has issued a final decision granting permanent relief with respect to such claims. Second, while the applicants allege they will face irreparable harm if they are forced to choose between complying with the contraception-coverage requirement and paying significant fines, they cannot show that aninjunction is necessary or appropriate to aid our jurisdiction.

The attorney for Hobby Lobby, in his statement yesterday, intimated that the company would rather pay fines than comply with the order.

Via Think Progress:

The store plans to ignore the provision anyway, opting to pay a fine instead of provide birth control, including the morning after pill commonly known as Plan B, which the owner feels goes against his personal religious values:

With Wednesday’s rejection of an emergency stay of that federal health care law by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Hobby Lobby and sister company Mardel could be subject to fines of up to $1.3 million a day beginning Tuesday.

“They’re not going to comply with the mandate,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel of The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing the company. “They’re not going to offer coverage for abortion-inducing drugs in the insurance plan.”

As for the potential fines, Duncan said, “We’re just going to have to cross that bridge when we come to it.”

This is not surprising by any stretch of the imagination. The company is very public about its religious beliefs, stating on its website:

The foundation of our business has been, and will continue to be strong values, and honoring the Lord in a manner consistent with Biblical principles. Hobby Lobby store hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and all Hobby Lobby stores are closed on Sunday.

And in a statement to the Oklahoman, David Green, Hobby Lobby CEO said:

“Our family is now being forced to choose to between following the laws of the land that we love or maintaining the religious beliefs that have made our business successful and supported our family and thousands of our employees and their families,” Green said Wednesday during a conference call. “We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.”

The Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby and Mardel retail stores, have long been public about their religious beliefs, reflected in the Sunday closings of their stores, the purchase of full-page Christian-themed newspaper ads on Easter and Christmas, the use of full-time chaplains to minister to employees and using profits to fund ministries and missions around the world.

I’m not going to get in to the politics of this one. If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you probably know how I feel about this issue. Either way, this is going to be an interesting one to watch.

With fines reaching up to a million dollars a day, Hobby Lobby has a lot at stake. And it will probably be the employees who will suffer the most.

UPDATE

So there’s been no movement on the part of Hobby Lobby. They are continuing to refuse to comply with the Federal order and racking up the fines. The question is, are the fines being levied?

While the company’s boldness in defying Obamacare has earned it praise from supporters, it remains unclear whether the IRS will act on its authority to levy the steep penalties.

And, as always, Mike Huckabee has to make it all about him – again, so he has put together “Hobby Lobby Appreciation Day“.

I will keep updating as this case (among others) moves forward. Being that this one is getting the most press, it stands to carry a great deal of weight one way or the other.

Category: HR News