The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

July 20, 2013

Judge grants injunction in Hobby Lobby case

OKLAHOMA CITY — Hobby Lobby Inc. was given a temporary exemption Friday from a requirement in the new federal health care law to offer insurance coverage for the morning-after pill and similar emergency birth control methods or face steep fines.

U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton issued the preliminary injunction for the Oklahoma City-based arts and crafts chain and stayed the case until Oct. 1 to give the federal government time to consider filing an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The ruling was welcomed by the Christian owners of Hobby Lobby and its sister company, the Mardel Christian bookstore chain. Attorneys for the Green family have argued that their religious beliefs are so deeply rooted that having to provide every form of birth control would violate their conscience.

"We're just very excited. This is a great step for us," Hobby Lobby president Steve Green said.

Members of the Green family say they believe life begins at conception, and oppose birth control methods that can prevent implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus, such as an intrauterine device or forms of emergency contraception.

The company offers 16 other forms of birth control mentioned in the federal health care law in its health insurance plans.

"To offer prescriptions that take life is not an option for us," said Green, who attended Friday's hearing with other family members and supporters.

Heaton, who rejected the companies' request to block the mandate in November, issued the injunction less than a month after the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the companies were likely to prevail in the case. Heaton ruled last month that the company would not be subject to fines of up to $1.3 million a day for not offering the birth control methods.

There are currently 63 separate lawsuits challenging the health care law's mandate, 34 of them involving for-profit businesses like Hobby Lobby.

Kyle Duncan, Hobby Lobby's lead attorney, argued that requiring the company to comply with the mandate would be a burden to religious exercise. The U.S. Department of Human Services has granted exemptions from portions of the health care law for plans that cover tens of millions of people and an injunction for Hobby Lobby would be in the public interest and would not burden the government, he said.

The government's lawyer, Michelle Bennett, urged Heaton to consider the potential harm an injunction might create for Hobby Lobby's 13,000 employees and members of their families who would be denied coverage for the emergency contraceptives.

In handing down his ruling, Heaton said he was surprised that the Denver-based 10th Circuit's decision in the case seemed to extend a person's constitutional religious exercise rights to businesses. He said it was in the public interest to issue an injunction to give courts time to resolve "substantial unanswered questions."

"The questions that are being presented here are new," the judge said.

 

1
Text Only
National and world
  • CDC Ebola web.jpg U.S. warns against traveling to Ebola-hit countries

    “The bottom line is Ebola is worsening in West Africa,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who announced the travel warning.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mideast web.jpg Gaza truce comes after days of pushing for a deal

    Finally, less than an hour after all sides signed off on the precise and technical wording for a 72-hour truce, Kerry issued a statement and called a 3:30 a.m. Friday press conference to seal the deal before any party could back out.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Taiwan web.jpg Gas explosions kill 24, injure 271 in Taiwan

    The fires were believed caused by a leak of propene, a petrochemical material not intended for public use, but the source of the gas was not immediately clear, officials said.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Congress web.jpg Congress races to finish VA, highway bills

    House Speaker John Boehner accused Democrats of pursuing a “nutso scheme” of trying to seize on the border crisis to try and grant a path to citizenship to millions of immigrants living in the country illegally.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Illinois Unemployment_Hass.jpg As U.S. job market strengthens, many don't feel it

    "If the economy is getting better, I'm not sure for whom. It certainly hasn't trickled down to me." — Douglas Hunter, who earned $14 an hour before the Great Recession and now works three days a week for $9.25 an hour, mopping floors and fixing fryers at McDonald's.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • House Obama Lawsuit.jpg Republican-led House approves lawsuit against President Obama

    Just a day before lawmakers were to begin a five-week summer recess, debate over the proposed lawsuit underscored the harshly partisan tone that has dominated the current Congress almost from its start in January 2013.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Russia Putin web.jpg Sanctions could damage Russia

    The sanctions go further than earlier penalties — which had largely targeted individuals — by broadly limiting the trade of weapons and of technology that can be used in the oil and military industries. The EU also put its capital markets off-limits to Russian state-owned banks.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mideast Libya web.jpg Thousands flee to Tunisia to escape Libya fighting

    Many diplomats, including the U.S. ambassador, have pulled out of the country. With the interim government paralyzed, the fighting threatens the planned opening session of the newly elected parliament on Aug. 4.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Obit Robert Drew web.jpg Cinema verite documentarian Robert Drew dies

    Starting in 1960 with “Primary,” Drew produced and sometimes directed a series of television documentaries that took advantage of such innovations as light hand-held cameras that recorded sound and pictures.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Obama Ukraine Russia_Hass_W.jpg GOP-led House approves lawsuit against Obama

    The suit will contend that Obama has exceeded his constitutional powers in the way he has enforced the 2010 health care law.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads