Hobby Lobby filed an emergency appeal seeking immediate relief from fines that could total $1.3 million per day after a stinging decision by a federal court on Monday mandating that the Christian-owned retailer abide by the Obama administration's mandate to provide "morning-after" and "week-after" drugs.
The brief was filed on Tuesday to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in an effort to stop the mandate that would force the Green family, who owns the chain, to violate their religious beliefs or face crippling fines.
"Every American, including family business owners like the Greens, should be free to make a living without forfeiting their religious beliefs," said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents Hobby Lobby. "The Green family needs relief before Jan. 1, and so we have asked the federal appeals court in Denver to issue an injunction against the mandate."
The case received national attention when Hobby Lobby and its sister company, Mardel, filed suit in September over the Department of Health and Human Services mandate that contraceptives and abortion inducing drugs be provided at no charge to employees covered by the company's health insurance plan.
However, district court Judge Joe Heaton issued a 28-page ruling against the privately owned family company, saying they had no "clear and unequivocal" right to be removed from the Obama administration mandate outlined in the Affordable Care Act, more commonly referred to as ObamaCare.
"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 also stated.
At the heart of Heaton's ruling was that Hobby Lobby and Mardel were not a church or religious organization and thus are not afforded constitutional protections from the provisions mandating birth control be provided.
Like fast food restaurant chain Chick-Fil-A, 40-year-old Hobby Lobby with 500 plus stores in 41 states takes pride in its religious convictions and is closed on Sunday. It also provides chaplains to their employees, give millions each year to ministries and buys hundreds of religious ads every Christmas and Easter.
"It is by God's grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured," said David Green, founder and CEO in a written statement on Wednesday. "Therefore we seek to honor God by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles."
There are now 40 separate lawsuits challenging the HHS mandate, but Hobby Lobby is the largest non-Catholic company to bring suit. The Becket Fund led the charge against the unconstitutional HHS mandate, and along with Hobby Lobby represents: Wheaton College, Belmont Abbey College, East Texas Baptist University, Houston Baptist University, Colorado Christian University, the Eternal Word Television Network and Ave Maria University.
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