Federal appeals court rules against Hobby Lobby on contraception

OKLAHOMA CITY Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:49pm EST

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OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - A federal appeals court on Thursday rejected a claim by an arts and crafts chain that wants to be exempted from a requirement to provide emergency contraceptives to employees because it violates the religious principles of its owners.

The Court of Appeals in Denver ruled against family-owned Hobby Lobby's assertion that the religious beliefs of its owners should relieve them from providing the "morning after" and "week after" pills to their employees, as required under President Barack Obama's signature health care reforms.

Hobby Lobby vowed to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"The Green family is disappointed with this ruling," said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is assisting Hobby Lobby in the legal case. "The Greens will continue to make their case on appeal that this unconstitutional mandate infringes their right to earn a living while remaining true to their faith."

The medications at issue are classified as emergency contraceptives by the Food and Drug Administration, but the owners of Hobby Lobby call them "abortion-inducing drugs" because they are often taken after conception.

The lawsuit is among 42 legal actions that have been filed over the issue, according to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a non-profit law firm in Washington, D.C.

The company faces fines of up to $1.3 million daily if it disobeys the mandate, which takes effect on January 1 for Hobby Lobby, a $3 billion chain, and its smaller sister operation, Mardel, a Christian-oriented bookstore and educational supply company.

Both companies are owned by the Green family of Oklahoma City, whose patriarch, David Green, is ranked 79th on Forbes Magazine's list of the 400 richest Americans, with a net worth of $4.5 billion.

The family operates 514 Hobby Lobby stores in 41 states and employ 13,240 people. Inspirational Christian music is played in the stores, which are closed on Sundays.

U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton of the Western District of Oklahoma ruled on November 19 that the privately-owned companies are secular, for-profit enterprises that do not possess the same religious rights as the individual members of the family.

(Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Lisa Shumaker)

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Comments (10)
Raelyn wrote:
Yay! Nice to know the bossman doesn’t own his female employees’ vaginas…

Dec 20, 2012 11:22pm EST  --  Report as abuse
wrote:
What an absolutely ridiculous, low class and vulgar response, Raelyn. Hobby Lobby is in the right on this subject and should not have to pay for how someone inappropriately decides to use their body… It is against their religion ; their belief. Period. They have the right NOT to support what they believe is against their religion in their own business. It is against Hobby Lobby’s rights to fine them if they do not agree or comply with such a foolish requirement that the government shouldn’t be involved with in the first place.

Dec 21, 2012 12:10am EST  --  Report as abuse
arttie wrote:
Yahoo! Score one for free thinking. The owners are absolutely breaking the LAW on this one. I’m sure the Green’s are sitting comfortably and not wanting to have to give up ANY of their income to provide for their employees, huh? Maybe they should open a church instead. There’s always plenty of money to be made on ‘God’. And tax free at that!

Dec 21, 2012 2:13am EST  --  Report as abuse
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