Oklahoma City, Oklahoma — The popular craft chain Hobby Lobby has announced that it has found a way to temporarily postpone compliance with Obamacare’s abortion pill mandate, thus avoiding fines of up to $1.3 million a day while its case moves forward in the courts.
In a statement issued by the company’s legal representation, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Hobby Lobby briefly explained its course of action.
“Following Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s decision on December 26th denying Hobby Lobby temporary relief from the HHS mandate to provide abortion-causing drugs as part of its healthcare plan, the company faced exposure to penalties beginning January 1,” the company outlined. “Subsequently, Hobby Lobby discovered a way to shift the plan year for its employee health insurance, thus postponing the effective date of the mandate for several months.”
“Hobby Lobby does not provide coverage for abortion-inducing drugs in its healthcare plan,” it added. “Hobby Lobby will continue to vigorously defend its religious liberty and oppose the mandate and any penalties.”
The statement was signed by Peter M. Dobelbower, General Counsel and Vice President of Legal at Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.
As previously reported, Hobby Lobby, owned by evangelical Christian David Green, had been seeking an emergency injunction against the mandate from all available venues since its request was first turned down by a federal district court in Oklahoma City. While Hobby Lobby states that it has been covering, and will continue to cover, birth control for its over 13,000 employees nationwide, it refuses to pay for two pills that are included in Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate: the morning-after pill and the week-after pill.
U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton, appointed by George W. Bush, ruled against the company in November, opining that Hobby Lobby and its bookstore chain Mardel are not entitled to an exemption from the national healthcare law because “Hobby Lobby and Mardel are not religious organizations.” He stated that while churches and non-profit entities may qualify for an exemption under Obamacare, a secular business is not a religious institution.
The company then appealed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, asking the court that it overturn the lower court’s decision and grant the injunction. However, the three-judge panel refused to issue the restraining order, stating similar reasoning as Heaton.
Hobby Lobby then took its request to the nation’s highest court, but Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor stated that it was not “indisputably clear” that Hobby Lobby’s request met the very high bar needed for an injunction. She pointed to the fact that the various circuit courts have been divided on the matter, insinuating that the craft chain still has a chance at eventually winning.
“Even without an injunction pending appeal, the applicants may continue their challenge to the regulations in the lower courts,” Sotomayor wrote. “Following a final judgment, they may, if necessary, file a petition [in the Supreme Court].”
Therefore, the case is moving forward in the courts in the absence of an injunction.
On January 5th, tens of thousands shopped at their local Hobby Lobby outlet and online to show their support of the company and its determination to obey God rather than men.