A federal appeals court on Thursday rejected Hobby Lobby’s appeal that the company be exempt from an Obamacare regulation requiring the arts-and-crafts company to provide contraception coverage to its employees without a co-pay. The family-owned company claims the mandate violates the owners’ religious beliefs, but the Court of Appeals in Denver ruled that the owners’ personal beliefs do not relieve them from having to offer the coverage to their employees.
Last month, a district judge denied Hobby Lobby’s request to not have to provide coverage. In the ruling, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton pointed out that religious institutions have already been given exemptions from covering contraception, and that Hobby Lobby does not qualify since it is a private business.
Hobby Lobby says it will appeal its case to the 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 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.
At least 42 lawsuits have been filed against the contraception mandate. Most Americans support the regulation, even for religiously affiliated groups, and even a majority of Catholics reported in October that they thought religiously affiliated organizations should comply with measure and provide contraception coverage to their employees.