Hobby Lobby won't owe fines over contraception mandate -U.S. judge

June 28 Fri Jun 28, 2013 5:49pm EDT

June 28 (Reuters) - The arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby Stores Inc will not have to pay daily fines beginning next week for refusing to provide birth control coverage to employees as required under the 2010 healthcare overhaul, a federal judge ruled on Friday.

U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton in Oklahoma City also scheduled a July 19 hearing for Hobby Lobby and its affiliated Mardel Christian bookstore chain to seek a preliminary injunction against its having to comply with the mandate.

Hobby Lobby has said it would incur $1.3 million in daily fines if it failed to provide contraception coverage by July 1, and that an injunction is in the public interest.

On Thursday, a federal appeals court in Denver said Hobby Lobby was entitled to challenge the contraception mandate on religious grounds, and that there was a good chance its challenge would succeed.

The Green family, which owns the Oklahoma City-based company, has said that providing coverage for the morning-after pill and similar contraceptives violated its Christian beliefs.

Hobby Lobby has about 550 stores, according to its website.

The case is Hobby Lobby Stores Inc et al v. Sebelius et al, U.S. District Court, Western District of Oklahoma, No. 12-01000. (Reporting by Terry Baynes and Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Matthew Lewis)

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