The developments between the Oklahoma City-based craft store chain Hobby Lobby and the United States Government the past few months have been interesting to watch, to say the least. After the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act this summer, all private for-profit companies are required to cover birth control and the morning-after pill as part of their healthcare plans beginning January 1st, 2013.
Hobby Lobby does not want to comply. Founder and CEO David Green claims covering the morning-after pill conflicts with his and his family’s religious beliefs. “Our family is now being forced to choose between following the laws of the land that we love or maintaining the religious beliefs that have made our business successful and supported our family and thousands of our employees and their families,” Green said in the fall. “We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.”
In an attempt to challenge the law, they filed a federal lawsuit in September. The lawsuit sought an injunction to allow the company to avoid the up to 1.3 million dollar a day penalty facing any company that does not comply with the ACA. The company is also seeking permanent liberty from enforcement of the mandate. On November 19th, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton struck down these requests. “Plaintiffs have not cited, and the court has not found, any case concluding that secular, for-profit corporations such as Hobby Lobby and Mardel have a constitutional right to the free exercise of religion,” the ruling said.
After the ruling, Hobby Lobby’s owners appealed in hopes of the Supreme Court allowing the injunction. On December 26th, this was denied by Justice Sonia Sotomayor saying it did not meet legal standard, forcing the company to either provide the coverage or pay the massive daily fine.
On Thursday night, despite court orders, Hobby Lobby announced they will continue to refuse coverage. A statement by their representative Kyle Duncan read:
“Hobby Lobby will continue their appeal before the Tenth Circuit. The Supreme Court merely decided not to get involved in the case at this time. It left open the possibility of review after their appeal is completed in the Tenth Circuit. The company will continue to provide health insurance to all qualified employees. To remain true to their faith, it is not their intention, as a company, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs.”
So, barring dramatic changes, Hobby Lobby will start paying that 1.3 million dollars a day when this new year begins in order to prevent providing morning-after pills to employees who want them. However, it remains to be seen whether the courts will later change their ruling through the appeal process.