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December 27th, 2012
07:20 PM ET

Hobby Lobby faces millions in fines for bucking Obamacare

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN)– Craft store giant Hobby Lobby is bracing for a $1.3 million a day fine beginning January 1 for noncompliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare.

The company opposes providing some contraceptives to employees through its company health care plan on religious grounds, saying some contraceptive products, like the morning after pill, equate to abortion.

After failing to receive temporary relief from the fines from the Supreme Court, Hobby Lobby announced late Thursday through its attorneys that it "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."

In September, Hobby Lobby and affiliate Mardel, a Christian bookstore chain, sued the federal government for violating their owners' religious freedom and ability to freely exercise their religion.

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"All they're asking for is a narrow exemption from the law that says they don't have to provide drugs they believe cause abortions," Hobby Lobby attorney Kyle Duncan, a general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, told CNN affiliate KFOR in November. "Our basic point is the government can't put a corporation in the position of choosing between its faith and following the law."

The lawsuit says the companies' religious beliefs prohibit them from providing insurance coverage for abortion inducing drugs. As of August 2012, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires employer-provided health care plans to provide "all Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity," according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Churches and houses of worship are exempt from the regulation and a narrow exemption was added for nonprofit religious employers whose employees "primarily share its religious tenets" and who "primarily serve persons who share its religious tenets."

In the face of that opposition, the Department of Health and Human Services tweaked its original rule in February to require health insurers, not employers, to cover the cost of contraception coverage, reasoning that would prevent religious groups from having to finance such coverage. Critics have argued that exemption for nonprofits is far too narrow and a host of nonprofit religious groups have sued the administration over the regulations.

The Internal Revenue Service regulations now say that a group health care plan that "fails to comply" with the Affordable Care Act is subject to an "excise tax" of "$100 per day per individual for each day the plan does not comply with the requirement." It remains unclear how the IRS would implement and collect the excise tax.

The Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, based Hobby Lobby chain has more than 500 stores that employ 13,000 employees across 42 states, and takes in $2.6 billion in sales. The company's attorneys say January begins a new health care plan year for Hobby Lobby and that excise tax from the IRS would amount to $1.3 million a day.

Hobby Lobby is owned by CEO and founder David Green and members of his family. "The foundation of our business has been, and will continue to be strong values, and honoring the Lord in a manner consistent with biblical principles," a statement on the Hobby Lobby website reads, adding that one outgrowth of that is the store is closed on Sundays to give its employees a day of rest. Each year the company also takes out full-page ads in numerous newspapers proclaiming its faith at Christmastime and on Independence Day.

The store is not formally connected to any denomination, but the Green family supports numerous Christian ministries and is behind the Green Collection, one of the largest private collections of biblical antiquities in the world. The family plans to permanently house the collection in Washington at a museum set to open in 2016.

On Friday, attorneys for Hobby Lobby petitioned the Supreme Court to intervene and provide temporary relief from the the fines until the case was decided by the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

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Wednesday evening, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who handles emergency appeals from the 10th Circuit Court, said the company failed to meet "the demanding standard for the extraordinary relief," and that it could continue to pursue its challenge in lower courts and return to the higher court, if necessary, after a final judgment.

"Hobby Lobby will continue their appeal before the 10th Circuit. The Supreme Court merely decided not to get involved in the case at this time," Duncan said in a statement.

A spokesperson for the Justice Department declined to comment on the high court's move.

White House officials have long said they believe they have struck an appropriate compromise between religious exemptions and women's health. The White House has not commented specifically on the Hobby Lobby case.

"It's just so sad that Hobby Lobby is facing this choice. What company, even a successful family owned business like Hobby Lobby, how can they afford the government $1.3 million in fines every day? It's just really absurd that government is not giving on this," said Maureen Ferguson, a senior policy adviser for the Catholic Association. Religious liberty groups like hers are watching the Hobby Lobby case closely.

"I am optimistic that these cases will eventually snake their way back up to the Supreme Court and given a full hearing on the merits of the case, I am confident that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of religious liberty," Ferguson said. "But in the meantime there is serious damage being done to businesses like Hobby Lobby and nonprofit charitable organizations."

The Hobby Lobby case is just one of many before the courts over the religious exemption aspects of the law. The case represents by far the biggest for-profit group challenging the health care mandate.

After this piece of the law went into effect in August, religious nonprofits were given "safe harbor" of one year from implementing the law. "In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences," Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, said in January when the administration announced the move.

Dolan's New York Archdiocese won a victory this month in its legal battle against the administration and the mandate. In May it sued the government in federal court in Brooklyn over the mandate, saying it "unconstitutionally attempts to define the nature of the church's religious ministry and would force religious employers to violate their consciences."

The government moved to have the case dismissed. On December 4, Judge Brian M. Cogan denied the government's motion to dismiss the case, saying the government's promise of changes to how it will implement the law were not enough to merit dismissal. "There is no, 'Trust us, changes are coming' clause in the Constitution," Cogan wrote in in his decision to let the case proceed.

UPDATE: Hobby Lobby's $1.3 million Obamacare loophole

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church and state

soundoff (5,627 Responses)
  1. david defrank

    atheist no good are you oor a im sorry if yourrr noot

    December 29, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  2. david defrank

    not all athest are prochoice be carefull what you joke about you may catch a left hooooook

    December 29, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  3. david defrank

    athesim is not healthy whattttttttttttttttttttttttttt

    December 29, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  4. david defrank

    o never ever tina

    December 29, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  5. david defrank

    baaaaaaaaacoooooooooooooooo or whatever just see me as super man im on your side i tink

    December 29, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  6. david defrank

    If you seen me writing style it's mum and pop fault. they can't read the darn direction on the contracep box. Pop dunno whi ch side the rubber thinggy should face. all left is the people thoguhts for they no jesus. this may be my last post here y'all

    December 29, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • david defrank

      my dad is dead he heard you and may be at the gate

      December 29, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      whoohoo!!! a stalker !!!

      December 29, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • david defrank

      please dont go joan rivers i need a laughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

      December 29, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  7. david defrank

    where is tom tommy the piper man you do yours a favor by your smart reasons we need more people like you

    December 29, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You rang, fvcktard?

      December 29, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  8. david defrank

    all hail what /////// im stupid like the one you make fun of

    December 29, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  9. david defrank

    mychelllllllleeee some pills are good for you

    December 29, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  10. david defrank

    baaaacoockkkkk or wat ever i notice

    December 29, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • == o ==

      The only kind of "trickle-down" that actually works:

      "david defrank" degenerates to:
      "Salero21" degenerates to:
      "felix navidad" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" degenerates to:
      "Taskmaster" degenerates to:
      "Ronald Regonzo" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "!"
      and many other names, but of course we all know it's
      the disgruntled ex Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. "writer".

      December 29, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  11. david defrank

    mamak glad you are not my mama i would be like the nobody in its a wonderfull life.but this dummy saved a lot of lives .what the heck have you done but cause the destruction of our prosperity or do you smarty pants no . i hope not

    December 29, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    December 29, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      I am baaaaccccccck and I want to get noticed !

      December 29, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • marat75

      Crickets noticed you... *crickets start chirping in the background*

      December 29, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent true statements is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...

      December 29, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  13. Mike

    I noticed that all of the lefties comments are full of hate. But what would I expect from obuma supporters. The fact is that the man is evil, period.

    December 29, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      So Mickey: why did the good lord allowed the evil one to win re-election and banished the faultless Mitt to the Grand Cayman Island ?

      December 29, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • david defrank

      mike i love you

      December 29, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  14. david daFrankenstein

    I got the $$$ and I want to screw everybody

    December 29, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • david defrank

      people because they have nothing left just there screwed thoughts

      December 29, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • david defrank

      dafranky just give me the money.im not a fairy

      December 29, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  15. Reality

    More from Guttmacher:

    "• Fifty-four percent of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method (usually the condom or the pill) during the month they became pregnant. Among those women, 76% of pill users and 49% of condom users report having used their method inconsistently, while 13% of pill users and 14% of condom users report correct use.["

    And yet some want Hobby Lobby et al to support the stupidity of these women and men who cannot follow simple directions!!!

    December 29, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • Mychele

      Before you go all judgmental you might want to do some more research and look at your own life and pill-taking habits.

      December 29, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • Extra Medium

      So Hobbly Sloppy hires only stupid women ... that is a really smart corporation !

      December 29, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Reality

      Don't forget the men in this abortion horror !!!

      With respect to added information:

      The reality of se-x, abortion, contraception and STD/HIV control: – from an agnostic guy who enjoys intelligent se-x-

      Note: Some words hyphenated to defeat an obvious word filter. ...

      The Brutal Effects of Stupidity:

      : The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill (8.7% actual failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% actual failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute. Unfortunately they do not give the statistics for doubling up i.e. using a combination of the Pill and a condom.

      Added information before making your next move:

      from the CDC-2006

      "Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."

      And from:

      Consumer Reports, January, 2012

      "Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-

      Here's a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active "post-teeners": Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.

      "Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'" (It should be called the Bill Clinton Syndrome !!)

      Obviously, political leaders in both parties, Planned Parenthood, parents, the "stupid part of the USA" and the educational system have failed miserably on many fronts.

      The most effective forms of contraception, ranked by "Perfect use":
      – (Abstinence, 0% failure rate)
      – (Masturbation, mono or mutual, 0% failure rate)
      Followed by:
      One-month injectable and Implant (both at 0.05 percent)
      Vasectomy and IUD (Mirena) (both at 0.1 percent)
      The Pill, Three-month injectable, and the Patch (all at 0.3 percent)
      Tubal sterilization (at 0.5 percent)
      IUD (Copper-T) (0.6 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Post-ovulation) (1.0 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Symptothermal) and Male condom (both at 2.0 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Ovulation method) (3.0 percent)

      Every other method ranks below these, including Withdrawal (4.0), Female condom (5.0), Diaphragm (6.0), Periodic abstinence (calendar) (9.0), the Sponge (9.0-20.0, depending on whether the woman using it has had a child in the past), Cervical cap (9.0-26.0, with the same caveat as the Sponge), and Spermicides (18.0).

      December 30, 2012 at 7:50 am |
  16. Jeff

    This is one of Obama's greatest sins, his endless attack on Christianity. No wonder, given that he is the most pro-abortion president in history.

    He champions with this move the culture of death America has embraced.

    December 29, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Mrs. Pepperpot

      He's pro-CHOICE, but I am not surprised you don't know the differnce. Vivé le Limbaugh!

      December 29, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Jeff, how dumb are you? Obama isn't "pro-abortion," you simpleton. No one is. If you have to lie to make a point, your point isn't valid.

      Grow up. R v W has been in place for decades, probably longer than you have lived. Get over it.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Sami

      Some of you Christians enjoy thinking that there is a war against you. The U.S is multi-cultural society, some parts believe in contraception rights.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • mama k

      Thank you, Sami – excellent point.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Terry

      They suddenly become Christian when it is convenient to their profits but have no conscience when it comes to the trade with SLAVE LABOR COMMUNIST CHINA for approximately 90% of their product. China supports abortion, sterilization, and the killing of babies up to 2 years old if they are not wanted. Yet they buy and sell and buy and sell and profit off of those beliefs... Obama is the best president this country has seen in along time... Perhaps since Abraham Lincoln himself.... You speak like a true modern American Christian... Your blinders are on tightly, and you can only see what you are told to see, and you easily ignore the trade with Slave Labor nations to profit a few in the United States, while it drives the middle class into devastation and desperation... I bet you vote Republican and are proud of it....

      December 29, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  17. david defrank

    If am paying you, you don't get to abort, get it !

    December 29, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Mrs. Pepperpot

      If you're paying somebody, you thinks that gives you ownership of that person??? Are you serious??? What planet are you from?

      December 29, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • david defrank

      The Golden Rule: who has the gold gets to make the rule. I got the $$$ !

      December 29, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • david defrank

      no do you mean you keep the money instead????????????????think about who you support.brains are the issue among prodeath people because they have nothing left just there screwed thoughts not jesus

      December 29, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • gary

      Except that morning after pill is not abortion, except in the eyes of certain deluded religious folk which doesn't count because we keep religion out of our laws. Get it!!?? Tard.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Mrs. Pepperpot

      You haven't a clue as to business practices and anything else, so you're entire point is moot. And if HL doesn't want to comply with the law, they can pay the fines. Simple. As simple as your mind is.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • mama k

      Lol. Whether you like it or not, david dedummy, we all pay for quite a number of things we personally may not like. That's part of the way the chips fall when it comes to taxes. Of course you have your vote. So use that. It will count, even if you stay a dumb fool.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Really

      david
      You would make a great slave owner, why even pay them? Wipe the drool off your keybord, it is disgusting.

      December 29, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  18. david deLiar

    david defrank is a Hobbly Sloppy major stock holder. He is protecting his future slave work force ;-)

    December 29, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • david defrank

      you seem to have a sense of funny.at least you have some wit.killing a baby by abortion or a pill is cruel

      December 29, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      He's a troll. A poe. Nobody that stupid knows the alphabet well enough to read the words "on" or "off."

      December 29, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  19. Sami

    It's a pity that a first world nation such as the U.S is still lacking in women's rights. And that illiteracy and the ability to write properly is on the decline.

    December 29, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • Christian

      Who needs to learn to read or write when the Pastor tells us everything we need to know right from the podium?...

      December 29, 2012 at 11:38 am |
  20. david defrank

    i no there are those out there reading this had many abortions.i have been to many chambers not clinics and turned away about 500 women and men from killing there baby we have in chicago great friends of the unborn and tadpoles as you prodeath people call these souls. life begins at conception and you lie when you say morning after is the subject.any form of abortion pill you can get with blessings fro your gov.you lie

    December 29, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • gary

      Morning after pill – abortion? This must be a poe. LMAO. What a troll.
      I don't think pushing your fairy tale ideas about conception works particularly well
      in the guise of a dimwit. Good luck with that, tard.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Mrs. Pepperpot

      Ah.
      Then I will pose the same question that has been posed to many in that protest line before:
      Are you willing to take that pregnant girl home with you, support her, pay all prenatal costs, pay for related hospital expenses for the birth, and adopt her child afterwards? How many have you done this for so far?
      Not to mention that HL is protesting paying for a contraceptive, not an abortion.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Mrs. Pepperpot

      "tadpoles as you prodeath people call these souls."
      So you are now claiming that sperm have souls? OMG!
      And prodeath refers to the DP, of which I am sure your are an ardent fan of.

      Gary, you're right.
      This troll has to be a poe, or mentally challenged.
      I can't argue with the retarded. That would be mean.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Christian

      Who cares if God aborts over 1 million babies annually in the US through miscarriage, those parents know what they did and were sinners which is why they lost their babies or they didn't pray hard enough. But we have got to go to more clinics and poor hate and vitriol out at those wicked evil women who may have been r a p e d or are going through one of the hardest moments in their life. Who cares if we add pain and suffering to a living human who we know can feel in order to avoid any possibility of losing the precious little souls, at least the ones that God decides not to abort himself...

      December 29, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Mrs. Pepperpot

      Answer my questions, Ani DeFranco.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Sami

      "Chambers not clinics"? So you're an anti-choicer who believes it is appropriate to compare abortion to the Holocaust. I believe that to be a form of Anti-Semitism.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:46 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.