The Edmond Sun

Local News

November 1, 2012

Federal judge mulls Hobby Lobby injunction request

OKLAHOMA CITY — An attorney said he expects Hobby Lobby to prevail in its lawsuit seeking to preserve the Green family’s rights to carry out its mission free from government coercion.

On Sept. 12, Hobby Lobby, a Christian-owned and operated arts and crafts retailer, filed suit seeking a preliminary injunction, an exemption from a rule in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that requires businesses with more than 50 employees to cover what the company calls “abortion-inducing” drugs. About 93 percent of businesses with 50-199 employees already offer coverage, according to the Obama administration.

The Affordable Care Act requires coverage of contraceptives including the birth control pill; intrauterine devices; and emergency contraceptives, aka the “morning-after pill,” which is taken within a few hours or days of sexual intercourse. The ACA does not require coverage of RU-486, aka “the abortion pill,” which causes an abortion when taken in the first few weeks of pregnancy. The “morning-after pill” prevents fertilization or ovulation, and may disrupt implantation of a fertilized egg.

A total of 38 cases representing hospitals, universities, businesses, schools and individuals have been filed over the federal “rule,” according to The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

Thursday morning, Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund, and Department of Justice attorney Michelle Bennett argued before Judge Joe Heaton during a two-hour hearing in U.S. District Court, Western District of Oklahoma.

Heaton said the case covers some “treacherous terrain” in “uncharted territory.” It raises some new and difficult problems, he said. Attorneys also spent time discussing the free exercise of religion relating to individuals versus businesses and the First Amendment.  

After quizzing the attorneys on issues including the threat of irreparable harm and if an injunction would adversely affect the public interest, Heaton said he would render a decision on a preliminary injunction as promptly as possible given time issues.

Fines for businesses with more than 50 employees not participating in the required coverage begin Jan. 1. Hobby Lobby says it could face fines of up to $1.3 million a day, $26 million a year.

Founded by David Green in 1970, Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby operates 524 stores with more than 13,000 full-time employees. The Green family operates Mardel, a chain of Christian bookstores, and Hobby Lobby through a management trust.

The Greens run the businesses according to their Christian faith, Duncan said. In its purpose statement the owners declare they are committed to “honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles.” The family believes it is by God’s grace that Hobby Lobby has endured and prospered.

The plaintiffs maintain that levying fines on someone for following their faith is wrong, alien to American traditions of individual liberty, religious tolerance and limited government. The concept also violates federal law and the U.S. Constitution, they argue.

Because of their beliefs about unborn human life, their prescription coverage excludes contraceptive devices that can cause abortion such as IUDs and pregnancy terminating drugs, namely the “morning after pill” and the “week after pill,” Duncan said.

The issue is not about access to contraception but who pays for it, Duncan said.

The Green family cannot in good conscience knowingly offer coverage for abortion-causing drugs or devices, Duncan said. Because they are a for-profit business they are not covered by the religious employer exemption, Duncan said. And its health insurance plans are not “grandfathered” under the Affordable Care Act.

Bennett argued partially along Obama administration lines. The administration states that scientists have abundant evidence that birth control has significant health benefits for women and their families, is documented to significantly reduce health costs and is the most commonly taken drug in America by young and middle-aged women.

“Plaintiffs’ challenge rests largely on the theory that a for-profit, secular corporation established to sell art and craft supplies can claim to exercise religion and thereby avoid the reach of laws designed to regulate commercial activity. This cannot be,” the government stated in its response.

The government cited United States V. Lee, in which the Supreme Court recognized that “when followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding in others in that activity.”

Hobby Lobby has been planning for the 2013 insurance plan year, a complex and time-consuming process, the plaintiffs stated in their petition. The approaching mandate casts grave uncertainty on their ability to provide insurance for thousands of employees and their families in January, they contend. A lapse in coverage would be disastrous for the businesses and for the employees and their families who depend on the company’s insurance, the plaintiffs argue.

marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 108

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Boston 1 Arcadia man, 80, prepares for 111th marathon

    A year ago, Arcadia resident Tom Briggs was well into the Boston Marathon course when he heard runners nearby talking about an incident up ahead.

    April 19, 2014 3 Photos

  • Anne Josette Hill Police seek teen last seen in Edmond-north OKC area

    The family of a missing teenage girl made a plea to the public Friday to help them find the Casady honors student.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • 4-19 Calendar

    For information about Edmond senior programs, stop by and pick up a monthly calendar, check out the website at edmondseniorcenter.com or call 216-7600. Lunch is served at 11:30 a.m. and reservations are needed a day in advance by 11 a.m. For lunch reservations, call 330-6293 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    April 19, 2014

  • UCO plans Earth Day Fair

    The University of Central Oklahoma invites the community to celebrate sustainability with its Earth Day Fair from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 22 in locations throughout Central’s campus.
    The fair kicks off at 10 a.m. around Broncho Lake with exhibitions from local businesses, state agencies and student organizations. Visitors will have the opportunity to learn about its environmental mission and message.

    April 19, 2014

  • UCO School of Music closes semester with concert series

    The University of Central Oklahoma School of Music will wrap up its instrumental performance season with three concerts featuring Central students April 29 through May 1 at Mitchell Hall Theater located on the UCO campus.    

    April 19, 2014

  • Fine Arts 1 Auction benefits Fine Arts Institute

    The Spring Sampler dinner and auction event April 12 at Oak Tree Country Club benefitted the Fine Arts Institute of Edmond.

    April 18, 2014 4 Photos

  • Kaiser joins Thunder ownership group

    Tulsa businessman George B. Kaiser has been approved by the NBA Board of Governors as a new partner in The Professional Basketball Club LLC, which owns the Oklahoma City Thunder. Thunder Chairman and CEO Clayton I. Bennett made the announcement Friday. Kaiser is purchasing the ownership interest of Tom L. Ward.
    “We are honored to welcome George Kaiser as a member of the ownership group of the Oklahoma City Thunder,” Bennett said. “George is a well-respected and important Oklahoma business leader, as well as one of the state and nation’s top philanthropists. His commitment to successful business and community leadership is in true alignment with that of the Thunder.
    “I also appreciate the commitment and leadership provided by Tom Ward as a member of our ownership group from the beginning,” Bennett added.

    April 18, 2014

  • Literally, books come to life for club

    When some of the women at Touchmark at Coffee Creek got together to form a book club, they didn’t know it would be so much fun and become such an important part of their lives.
    The group of about a dozen residents gets together monthly to not only discuss the assigned novel, memoir or classic, but also to immerse themselves in the setting and culture of the book. There is no limit to their creativity.

    April 18, 2014

  • pink.jpg Local children win Edmond Sun Easter coloring contest

    Two local children were named winners of The Edmond Sun’s Easter coloring contest. At left, Madsion Porter, 4, daughter of Tracy Porter, won a princess Easter basket, which included a tiara, tea set, stuffed bunny rabbit and chocolate rabbit. At right, BriAnna Harbaugh, 9, daughter of Leslie Haubaugh, won a Hello Kitty Easter basket, containing art supplies, a Hello Kitty stuffed animal and a chocolate bunny.  The families also received a three-month subscription to The Edmond Sun. For your own subscription to The Edmond Sun, visit edmondsun.com, call 341-2121, or visit 123 S. Broadway.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • jc_HarveySparks.jpg Pastor seeks congressional seat

    Working in the Congressional 1st District office of Congressman Jim Bridenstine was an eye opener for Harvey Sparks, he said. His analytical exposure to Congress has sparked his drive to run for the Congressional 5th District of Oklahoma, said Sparks, R-Oklahoma City.
    Sparks has been a pastor for the majority of his professional life. Sixteen months ago, he was asked by 1st District Congressman Jim Bridenstine to come work in his Washington, D.C., office. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three daughters and a son, ages 10-3.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
NDN Video
Lindsay Lohan Reveals She Had Miscarriage in Reality Show Finale ET Presents The Summer Movie Preview Teen hitchhikes in wheel well of flight from California to Hawaii Marathoners Celebrate Easter With Tradition Celebs Share Their Easter Fun Hundreds Gather for Denver Pot Rally on Easter Lauren Stoner Shows Off Her Incredible Bikini Body At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Dr. Phil Put In The Hot Seat By His Own Wife Jabari Parker's Top 5 Plays From Duke Career Kourtney Kardashian Is a Bikini Babe More Manpower Than Ever Expected At 4/20 Rally Debunk'd: Miley Cyrus AIDS, Cheeseburgers Cause Cancer, Military Warning Bill Previewing the NBA playoffs Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite My name is Cocaine Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Lohan Gets Candid About Her Sex List The 2014 New York Auto Show Meet Johnny Manziel's New Girlfriend
Poll

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

Agree
Disagree
Undecided
     View Results