by Bethany Monk, CitizenLinkA federal court on Monday rejected a legal challenge from the largest corporation so far to sue the Obama administration over a mandate requiring most businesses to offer contraceptives and possible abortion-inducing drugs under their insurance plans.
Hobby Lobby, the popular arts and crafts store, sued the government on Sept. 12, and asked the court for relief from the mandate as the case proceeds. The Christian-owned-and operated store is the largest and the first non-Catholic-owned businesses to file a lawsuit against the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate.
“This is not the end of the road for Hobby Lobby,” said Emily Hardman, communications director for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberties, representing Hobby Lobby in the case. The ruling, she said, is “disappointing,” but not a final decision.
The court did not question the religious beliefs of the Hobby Lobby owners, but ruled that those beliefs were only “indirectly” burdened by the HHS mandate’s requirement that the business provide free coverage for possible abortion-inducing drugs, according to the Becket Fund.
The Becket Fund filed an emergency appeal Monday evening asking the 10th U.S. Circuit of Appeals to stop enforcement of the HHS mandate, Hardman said. Becket Fund attorneys requested the court to respond to the request by Jan. 1.
David Green founded Hobby Lobby in an Oklahoma City garage in 1972. He and his family currently own and operate more than 500 stores in 41 states. Employees have access to spiritual counseling and chaplains; stores are always closed on Sundays.
“It is by God’s grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured,” Green said. “Therefore we seek to honor God by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles.”
The Obama administration gave secular businesses until Aug. 1 to comply with the mandate. Faith-based groups, including Catholic hospitals, universities and nonprofit ministries, have until August 2013 to comply.
“Every American, including family business owners like the Greens, should be free to live and do business according to their religious beliefs,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund.
There are currently more than 110 plaintiffs and a total of 40 lawsuits challenging the HHS mandate.
A court date has not been set in the Hobby Lobby case.