A federal judge is temporarily exempting Hobby Lobby Inc. from a provision in the new federal health care law that requires it to offer insurance coverage for the morning-after pill and similar birth control or face steep fines.
“The tide has turned against the HHS mandate,” said Kyle Duncan, General Counsel with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and lead attorney for Hobby Lobby.
After hearing brief arguments Friday, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton issued a preliminary injunction for the Oklahoma arts and crafts chain.
“There is a substantial public interest in ensuring that no individual or corporation has their legs cut out from under them while these difficult issues are resolved,” the court said.
The judge stayed the case until Oct. 1 to give the federal government time to consider an appeal.
“This victory comes less than a month after a landmark decision by the full 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled 5-3 that Hobby Lobby can exercise religion under the First Amendment and is likely to win its case against the mandate,” the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty said today in a statement.
“This is a major victory for not only Hobby Lobby, but the religious liberty of all for-profit businesses,” the statement adds.
The Christian owners of Hobby Lobby and the Mardel Christian bookstore chain argue that their religious beliefs are so deeply rooted that having to provide every form of birth control would violate their conscience.
And they’re not the only ones to challenge the controversial HHS mandate.
“There are now 63 separate lawsuits challenging the HHS mandate,” the Becket Fund statement adds.
The religious liberties groups currently represents Hobby Lobby, Wheaton College, East Texas Baptist University, Houston Baptist University, Colorado Christian University, the Eternal Word Television Network, Ave Maria University, and Belmont Abbey College.
The Associated Press contributed to this story. Featured image Getty Images.
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