Attorney: Contraception Mandate Losing Legal Battle

Jul 19, 2013

An attorney representing Hobby Lobby Inc. says “the tide is turning” against a federal mandate requiring companies to pay for what they view as unacceptable forms of contraception for their workers.

Credit Fan of Retail / Flickr Creative Commons

Kyle Duncan said Friday’s ruling by a federal judge exempting Hobby Lobby from paying for the medications as part of the store’s health care plan likely means the mandate will die.

Hobby Lobby’s lawsuit seeks an exemption to the federal government’s contraception coverage requirement that is part of the Affordable Care Act.

Duncan said the owners of Hobby Lobby, the conservative Christian Green family, object to having to pay for certain kinds of contraceptives they say cause abortions.

“If the government threatens to take away your business because of your faith, that violates your rights, and ultimately that’s why the court decided to enter a preliminary injunction and protect the religious liberties of this good family,” Duncan said, following the hearing.

The case hinges on whether a corporation can exercise rights of religious expression, rather than just individuals.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, where Duncan is general counsel, is representing eight different entities in trying to overturn the contraception requirement. The Becket organization says there are 63 separate lawsuits challenging the mandate from the Dept. of Health and Human Services.

During a hearing Friday, U.S. Justice Dept. attorney Michelle Bennett told U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton an injunction issued in the case would harm Hobby Lobby employees.

The Affordable Care Act contraception provisions would allow a woman and her doctor the full range of birth control choices, according to Bennett.

Attorneys for the federal government have until Sept. 25 to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case. The judge issued a stay in the case until Oct. 1.