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
So, much like the Catholic Church, Hobby Lobby isn't concerned with hiring people not of their religious persuation. They just want to prevent people from exercising their own rights.
Sounds totally American to me.
your post makes no sense whatsoever.???? They are not restricting anyones "rights"!! Ladies can do whatever they want after they did whatever they wanted; hobby lobby should not have to pay for it just because our king says so.
I'd sure hate to see Hobby Lobby lose and pass cost onto their customers, I'd be screwed!
Don't you love stinking, gutless conservative filth?? Screaming you can't take away their guns or make them buy insurance. But they sure want government to tell women what to do with their bodies. Or if they can even have contraception. In 10 years, there will be no GOP. As Reagan used to say, truly morning in America.
I cannot believe taxpayers are paying for abortion procedures....AND doesn't make smokers and obese people pay more premiums through their employers. Obama might as well cover plastic surgery. I feel like I am living in a bad dream when I think about Obama.
Abortions save money, so aside from the mental health issue of not leaving someone pregnant against their wishes it is economically sound. An interesting thing about smokers is that while they cost private insurers more, they save us as society by dying early.
You honestly think that Abortions are a waste of money? An unwanted child is a huge burden on the system.
@Itsmmmeee....................Please grow up. NOBODY IS PAYING FOR ABORTIONS. Stop being a phony crooked Christian. I've said it before. People like you love children before their born, after the birth you don't care about the kids.
no not a dream.look what clinton did over the phone behind the desk every pres. wrote on.thanks for your wisdom.
Taxpayers aren't paying for anything you dolt. Hobby Lobby is providing the insurance.
I wonder if Hobby Lobby insurance pays for Viagra for unmarried men
Rashanda, I wonder on what side of the political divide you fall! Sounds like a Swedish name to me!
So what happens when a company owned by Jehovah's Witnesses wants to exclude coverage for any surgical procedure that involves blood transfusions, as that's against their beliefs?
Then don't work for the Jehovah's Witnesses, it's that simple. No one is forcing you to work for a religious group. I agree that Hobby Lobby doesn't fall into this category however, they are a business. However, church groups and church run non-profit charitable organizations should be exempt.
@Mike M...................Religion should not get preferential treatment. They should follow the law like everyone else.
So the women's rights movement should have followed the law like everyone else and never fought for women's suffrage or the freedom to get an abortion? Seriously?? Your logic is deafening. Just drink the koolaid everyone, don't challenge the system or the laws put into place by positions of power who didn't seek the will of the people.
A terrible, freedom-imposing law was put into place, and Hobby Lobby is taking their stand against it. The other option is for them to shut down their business since they have already expressed they cannot go against their faith and conscience. Then thousands of people could not only lose their healthcare but also their jobs. That would be terrific.
That would be the epitome of making a "law respecting the establishment of religion"... Religion is something you choose to follow. If you're going to allow exemptions for religious organizations, then why not other special interest groups?
@jared....................Women fighting for their rights is not the same. You are comparing apples to oranges. This is a religious objection. Not a rights issue. There is a separation of church and state.
Hobby Lobby is not a church. Hobby Lobby is not a christian. Hobby Lobby does not have a soul. Hobby Lobby and it's very very wealthy owners chose not to respect the religious diversity of its employees and they feel like they don't have to obey the laws of the land. For anyone who sympathizes, imagine a faith other than your own. Now imagine a corporation like Exxon or Wal Mart or Burger King getting all kinds of exemptions from laws because their CEOs have that faith. Wanting to pay women less money, not allowing women to serve in leadership positions, not hiring people of certain faiths, firing employees who don't attend their worship service. Forcing employees to pray to their god. Not serving single mothers or non-believers. Our system of laws doesn't work when anyone at anytime and in any capacity can choose not to obey them simply because they claim to have a religious objection.
Dana, I think that you better reread your legal business manual. There is a course called "Business Law". Corporations have Boards of Directors selected by stockholders which Scalia and his justice buddies ruled "have a soul" because they are made up of individuals.
hobby lobbys owner has a soul.
Actually Diana, what you're describing is what the Government is doing to Hobby Lobby.
When it comes to s3x people need to grow up. S3x is natural, God wants us to have s3x, which is the reason why he gave us organs to have s3x with. Women do not get pregnant every time they have s3x. Using birth control is a civilized way way for people to control when they want children and have a fulfilling relationship. Why is that so hard to understand?
It is the only way they can justify projecting the guilt they feel for having natural human drives. It's the old "I feel bad for being hor-nee, therefore everyone else must feel bad as well."
Unbelievable people (adults) feel that way.
NAIL THE HOLY ROLLERS!!!!!! Churches should pay taxes anyway.
Hobby Lobby isn't a church. This article is not about church. My gosh.
Hobby Lobby could be atheist and still believe that human life begins at conception and therefore refuse to provide insurance which includes an abortifacient. This is not about religion. This is the federal government WAY overstepping its bounds. Employer-provided benefits are not a 'right' anyway. I've had a few jobs in which I didn't receive benefits. I could buy state insurance for $153 a month, which isn't much more than I currently pay through my employer.
I dread where our country is going. :-(
How about this. The next time you don't have insurance and get sick or injured STAY HOME AND DIE. I don't want to pay your hospital bill when you can't. Do you realize YOU pay others hospital bill when they don't have coverage? That is why you are required to have health insurance! Instead of paying for others, you pay for yourself! You may pay about 153.00 through your employers insurance. You should find out what your employer pays for you, you'd faint. As far as that state insurance is concerned, others pay into it so that you "only" pay 153.00.
You do realize that you just contradicted Hobby Lobby's argument. Right? If its not about religion (i.e. atheist could choose not to provide) then there is no bearing as this being a violation of religious freedom. And by the way this law is not forcing contraception, abortion, etc. Its saying that if you provide health insurance you have to cover certain preventative procedures/medications. And yes birth control is a preventative medication. Guess what, if birth control is against your belief...DON'T USE IT. How do you not realize that if their employees choose to pay for it on their own, from the salary Hobby Bobby provided them, instead of taking a lower salary and having it covered through their insurance policy is the same thing. This is the same argument people use with guns...I guess gun manufactures are also responsible for all the people killed with their products...right? Oh, I bet you don't apply your stupid logic there.
Do you realize how childish you people sound. Grow up.
I wonder how much of the deficit it would erase if we started taxing churches?
Then you'd have to do that to all non profit organizations. Are you willing to go there and have society receive less services as a result? Churches and charities are also a means of support in communities.
@ Christ – I'm good with it. Religious organizations make plenty of money. Just look around and see the huge amount of churches in this country...not to mention hospitals and clinics. If there's one church for every 6,194 people. That's about 50,305 churches and this only accounts of Christianity.
You make it sound that churches make so much money. Go to one and see how much of tides go to feeding and caring for the homeless and giving a small sallerery that is almost pitiful to the clergy. what have you done to help those around u other then give ur twisted opionin, and now u think u have changed the world.
Not sure if this is accurate or if I'm reading it correctly, but I appears that the Catholic Church (US) has $171 billion annual expenditures, of which "national charitable activities [is] just 2.7%". (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/08/17/the-economist-estimates-the-catholic-church-spent-171600000000-in-2010/)
Bottom line is you don't get to claim religion as a justification to break the law.
The same bigots who hide behind "BUT DEM'S DA RULES!" with respect to the Boy Scout denied his Eagle rank for being gay are suddenly running to the courts to bend the rules for themselves. IDGAF what the owner, founder, CEO, etc believe in. They dont get to dictate to all their employees that their insurance won't cover certain things because of the owner's religious beliefs. What about a company owned by Jehovah's Witnesses? Would they be able to exclude coverage for pretty much any serious medical procedure because it's against their beliefs?
tom tom in reply to your statements regarding that all prolifers who stand firm are goofs fools dumb christians kiss my butt you freak.
Is that the best you can do? What's wrong? Can't find any logic in your arguments? Is our logic making your head hurt? Why don't you go back to your room, turn on sponge bob square pants and sing yourself to sleep.
A corporation can not have religious beliefs, period. It may be a "person" in regards to taxes and the like, but it is not an individual capable of declaring a faith in any god or gods. It is a collection of many individuals, who almost certainly have multiple beliefs. Therefore, a corporation's religious rights can not be violated. Easy, open and shut decision for any sensible judge.
Not familiar with the 14th amendment are you?
Obama wants jobs but not if they believe in God. That's not part of the new America. Besides Hobby Lobby would never donate to his campaign. I'm not absolutely sure but I'd bet the farm on it. Obama should be ashamed of himself but then again, he's Obama and that would explain it all.
Stop being bitter, you lost the election get over it!
We all lost the election. Its just the ones that voted for Obama do not know it yet.
I feel like I'm in the middle of a bitter sandwich. OK Chris what lies do you want to tell about the president?
We're pretty much going to hell. It sucks. :/ God doesn't forget all the blood this country has spilled and refuses to to turn from..
@christy..............Your life must be tough. Is it the presidents fault? I doubt it. Tell us specifically why things are going to hell. We need the laughs!
For those that think embryo cells are human, are life. What about cancer cells? Should we leave those in people? What about a pimple? I'm sure there are cells in pimples.
Hmmm.... A company has religious beliefs? My number 2 pencil is actually Mormon. The eraser is Hindu though so they are always squabbling.
So......Does Hobby Lobby's company believe they will burn in hell because they pay for an employee's birth control? If so, why hire that employee in the first place? I mean, even if they are able to exclude themselves from "Obamacare"'s terms regarding birth control, the wages that go towards their employees will also go towards birth control or abortion.
Some clarity on this matter anyone?
@Raven37.............There has been plenty of clarity on this issue through out this blog. The religious whack jobs are against abortion. The Prez. comes up with a solution to cut down on abortions. Birth control. The whack jobs are now twisting birth control to say that birth control is against their religion. These whack jobs are phony crooked Christians period. They cant get any s3x, so they want to punish those that do.
Ken, the belief that human life begins at conception is not a "Christian only" belief. Good grief.
@christy................. I'm assuming you're a women. Are you against birth control? Should women be treated like farm animals, only to have s3x to make children?
Ken your comments are chock full of straw men and absurd statements. If you want to have a serious discussion, why don't you learn about the issues form both sides of the spectrum before you continue your inane rants.
@Bill.....................My statements are facts. You have a problem with what I write be specific. What offends you?
Women treated like farm animals is a fact? LOL Never mind.
@Bill.............That was a question. If you are against birth control are you also against vasectomies?
You must be new here. I'm Catholic so yes, personally I oppose all forms of birth control. While I acknowledge the freedom of others not to belief as I do, I expect the same and resist the coercion to fund the choice to use artificial birth for others.
@Bill.............No I'm not new. I've read your posts before. How about this. If you want these children to be born. Then you pay for them. All children cost money. If you really love these kids, then help them. Raise taxes as needed to fund the programs needed. I'm pro choice because I don't want to pay for these kids. I'm fed up with people having children they know they cant take care of.
wrong birthcontrol abortion are only legal because people like you twist words.personhood is denied illegally by your roe wade piece of rotten illegal law...so according to my logic your mixed up or just as evil as you understand.i hope when you die you did not no what you did.you may have a shot at purgatory.
@Frank.......Tell the truth, do you really love these kids you want so badly to be born? Did you support Mitt Romney, a man that wanted to cut/gut programs kids need? What about republicans distaste for healthcare reform? Don't you think people need healthcare? What about Medicare and Medicaid, programs for the elderly and poor. Are you against those also? If you are for those programs that help people you should be willing to raise taxes no matter the amount to support those programs! Are you willing to raise YOUR taxes so you can help those children you want so badly to be born today and in the future?
Treating a zygote as a person is as untterly insane as PETA idiots that want us to never hurt a crab. Zygotes and crabs are not intelligent beings like adult or even 5 year children. Granting personhood to these living, but dumber-than-rock beings is an insult to real self-aware humans.
david, you think ALL contraception is "murder"? You think women should submit to their husbands and remain barefoot and pregnant?
What century are you living in?
this one must have hit his head on something recently, Tom.
Reasonable people may disagree on the morality of birth control. What is at issue is whether the federal government has the authority to force you or I do violate our beliefs about it. Liberals are in favor of it at present because the direction of force favors their views. What will they rely on as principle when the tide swings the other direction
@bill....................Violate our beliefs? Is someone making YOU take birth control? Do you have a problem with vasectomies? That is a form of birth control.
You seem to be stuck arguing the validity of the belief and that is not what is in question. The question is over whether the government can force you to violate your belief, not whether the belief is acceptable to others or not.
The government does, apparently, have the authority to support things that might be against your belief and use your money to do it. The classic example is using taxes to fight wars.
Now, you can argue that the government crosses the line when they step out of the loop and force you to pay for insurance that pays for abortion, but that is not directly forcing you to violate your beliefs any more than taxes funding war are against a strict pacifist's beliefs.
Me II, I knew I was leaving that door open. This board is probably too small to discuss the nuances between the two scenarios. Of course you do know that there are exemptions made to religious conscientious objectors to war. And of course you acknowledge that taxing citizens in general to fund government operations is different than compelling citizens to behave in specific ways. Those would be the two separate tracks I would argue make a difference in the "I don't want to pay for war" argument.
@bill You BS around the point. What is the govt. making you do? You don't care about the kids anyway. So why do you want them to be born?
It is a tricky subject, yes.
As for conscientious objectors, those exceptions are for fighting in the war, not paying taxes.
But yes, there is a difference between a tax and a mandate, even if the SCOTUS is a bit fuzzy on where that line is, and that is a worthy debate on the limits of governments and what it can force individuals to do.
But you would also have to admit, I think, that there is a difference between mandating premiums and "force[ing] you to violate your beliefs", else the taxing-for-war issue is just as valid, i.e. extracting money for purposes contrary to ones beliefs.
Actually, I would argue that the Government has no right to mandate insurance, but does have the right to say all insurance must cover contraceptives.
The important point being that no organization is required to provide health insurance.
@Bill and ME II.....................I think you both are getting caught up in semantics. If a woman doesn't have COMPLETE control over her body, then she becomes a slave. She should have the right to birth control/abortion whenever she wants. If she can't afford the child and the govt. can't afford the child why have the child? Birth control is cheaper than children. CNN/Money reported it cost over $230,000 to raise a child from birth to 18. If the parent can't afford the child, guess who pays THE TAXPAYER. Birth control is a helluva lot cheaper than children. You don't have to be a math wizard to figure that out.
kenmargo its not a seamless issue.abortion is killing a humanbeing.
Actually MEII I agree with you. I think the core argument is whether the government has the authority to require insurance coverage at all. That's what highlights the abomination of the whole ACA to me. Given that we have crossed that threshold, we are left with the question of what are the limits to government mandates of the coercion.
Ken, You're off point. Women have all the rights they need to control their own bodies. What is being asked is that others pay for those choices against their moral convictions.
@bill.........................What people like you seem to forget. PEOPLE WITHOUT HEATH CARE THAT END UP IN THE HOSPITAL AND CANT PAY THE BILL. THAT BILL GOES TO THE TAXPAYER. YOU PAY SOMEONE ELSE'S BILL. HOW DOES THAT MAKE SENSE TO YOU? THE ACA SIMPLY RESOLVES THAT ISSUE BY REQUIRING PEOPLE TO BUY THEIR OWN HEALTH CARE SO OTHERS DON'T HAVE TO PAY FOR IT.
@Bill.............This is a reply I wrote earlier. If you want these children to be born. If your religion is against birth control, then you pay for them. All children cost money. If you really love these kids, then help them. Raise taxes as needed to fund the programs needed. I'm pro choice because I don't want to pay for these kids. I'm fed up with people having children they know they cant take care of.
Corporations are incapable of having a belief system. It is not a living, thinking being. Religous Freedom is a right belonging only to individuals. Catholics have a right to religious freedom. The Catholic Church (or any other religious instiution), not being a person, has no religous freedom right. The government can't tell an individual it must take birth controls, but it can tell a business it must provide insurance coverage for medical treatments or procedures that people who run that business are opposed to on religious grounds.
And the proof will be when the men in brown shirts show up at Hobby Lobby stores and shut them down. They believe in God and in Obama's new America that's not allowed. How dare anyone cross or great leader Obama the magnificent, a man created in his own image.
ALERT ALERT ALERT A paranoid moron has just entered the blog ALERT ALERT ALERT. His name, Larry5. The police are still searching for the first 4 larrys Last seen on FOX NEWS!
google "corporate belief systems", "corporation citizenship" and the "history of the 14th amendment" and find out why you don't know what you're talking about.
Deacon - The 14th amendment does not mention corporations or companies or anything of that nature. It is very short, try reading it. It was passed in 1868 to prevent states from denying citizenship to minorities, such as African Americans. Just who's corporate bully-boy are you?
Seems clear enough to me.
In Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad – 118 U.S. 394 (1886), the reporter noted in the headnote to the opinion that the Chief Justice began oral argument by stating, "The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constiitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does." While the headnote is not part of the Court's opinion and thus not precedent, two years later, in Pembina Consolidated Silver Mining Co. v. Pennsylvania – 125 U.S. 181 (1888), the Court clearly affirmed the doctrine, holding, "Under the designation of 'person' there is no doubt that a private corporation is included [in the Fourteenth Amendment]. Such corporations are merely associations of individuals united for a special purpose and permitted to do business under a particular name and have a succession of members without dissolution."  This doctrine has been reaffirmed by the Court many times since.
@bill...........Yep it's as clear as mud.
Try reading it slowly and out loud.
Excuse me... but Hobby Lobby is privately owned. What right does the government have to tell them to support things that are against their founding principles?
Preston, The answer is they have no right. What they have is the power. Or rather the illusion of power.
@preston.................You need to pull your head out your AZZ. If you understood the finances involved and how much it cost YOU, you would change your tune.
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.