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Pizza magnate wins temporary ruling on contraception coverage dispute
Thomas Monaghan, the multimillionaire founder of Domino's Pizza, pictured at the University of Ava Maria, which he founded September 27, 2007.
December 31st, 2012
05:35 PM ET

Pizza magnate wins temporary ruling on contraception coverage dispute

By Bill Mears, CNN

(CNN)– The billionaire founder of Domino's Pizza has won a temporary court victory, with a federal judge blocking enforcement of part of the health care reform bill requiring most employers to provide a range of contraception and reproductive health services.

Some business owners and their staff see that as a violation of their religious rights.

Federal Judge Lawrence Zatkoff issued his order late Sunday, saying Thomas Monaghan had "shown that abiding by the mandate will substantially burden his exercise of religion."

"The (federal) government has failed to satisfy its burden of showing that its actions were narrowly tailored to serve a compelling interest," said Zatkoff, a 1986 Reagan appointee. "Therefore, the court finds that plaintiffs have established at least some likelihood of succeeding on the merits" of their claim.

Monaghan filed the emergency petition this month, on behalf of himself and Domino's Farms Corp., a Michigan property management firm he operates, not directly related to the pizza-chain empire. Monaghan sold his majority interest in the pizza company in 1998.

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The case will continue to be heard in the federal courts while the stay remains in effect. The Obama administration has the option of appealing the order.

The judge's opinion comes just days after two federal appeals courts in Chicago and St. Louis became the first to rule against enforcement for businesses of the contraceptives mandate in the Affordable Care Act. The policy was set to go into effect Tuesday for many companies whose new insurance year begins on January 1st.

At issue is whether secular, for-profit enterprises– owned and operated by those of a strong religious or personal faith– are exempt from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The separate health care law - dubbed Obamacare - provides such exceptions for religious institutions such as the Catholic Church, of which Monaghan is a member. He argues individually that contraception or abortion does not constitute "health care" and involves immoral practices that destroy "innocent human life."

"Causing death can never be considered a form of medical treatment," said Monaghan in court papers.
Other religious-affiliated groups like parochial schools and church-run hospitals are also temporarily exempted until new final rules are written in coming months.

That followed complaints from a variety of entities over who exactly was covered under the mandates, and who could bring legal objections in court.

The Justice Department, on behalf of the Obama administration, said the 2010 law - upheld this year by the Supreme Court - was designed to provide a range of preventive health services through expanded coverage and lower costs.

Federal lawyers - backed by a range of medical and abortion-rights groups - said economically disadvantaged women in particular need affordable access to reproductive health services contained in the law, which it said was a "compelling governmental interest."

Hobby Lobby faces millions in fines for bucking Obamacare

Under the law, companies with at least 50 employees must provide their female employees of child-bearing age insurance coverage for pregnancy-prevention care, including doctor visits and medicine.

Those firms face daily fines and tax penalties for failure to comply.

Other federal courts - including Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor last week– have allowed the new mandates to go into effect. Sotomayor in an order December 26 said the Supreme Court has never ruled on whether individuals or companies can rightfully claim federal mandates under their constitutional rights of religious freedom.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

That case involved Hobby Lobby Inc., and Mardel, Inc. and five family members involved in ownership and control of the corporations, who had protested the requirement.

Those separate companies said they would be required "to provide insurance coverage for certain drugs and devices that the applicants believe can cause abortions," which would be against their religious beliefs.
The petitioners said they would face irreparable harm if forced to choose between paying fines and complying with the requirement.

But Sotomayor - who handles emergency appeals from the 10th Circuit - said the applicants failed to meet "the demanding standard for the extraordinary relief," and that they could continue to pursue their challenge in lower courts and return to the higher court, if necessary, following a final judgment.

There was no indication when or if the high court would ultimately decide the religious freedom question. Several dozen separate lawsuits are pending in various lower federal courts.

The Michigan case is Monaghan v. Sebelius (12-15488).

CNN's Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Faith & Health

soundoff (1,866 Responses)
  1. Greenspam

    Fine, if Dominos is really doing it for religion. One of the Ten Commandments CLEARLY says not to work on Sundays. So why does Dominos violate that Commandment every Sunday and continue to deliver pizzas?

    January 1, 2013 at 5:36 am |
  2. Zobby

    Another nut blocking progress for religious idealism.

    January 1, 2013 at 5:27 am |
    • Greenspam

      This was actually an economic decision. Dominos can't come out and say they don't want to provide birth control because it costs money, so it has to say it's due to religion.

      January 1, 2013 at 5:35 am |
  3. AuntySocial

    Oh well, he will learn the same lesson John Schnatter did. Don't anger the people who are your clientele. I don't need Domino's any more than I need Papa John's. Let the boycotting and trolling commence.

    January 1, 2013 at 5:21 am |
  4. Greenspam

    Actually, this has nothing to do with religion... companies can save money by not providing birth control and so they try to challenge it based on religion ground. If anything, birth control like condoms SAVE LIVES because people don't catch STD!

    January 1, 2013 at 5:19 am |
  5. bobmarleydied

    No more Dominos for me then

    January 1, 2013 at 5:18 am |
    • carpe diem

      Earlier this week, news stories came out that Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan had filed suit against the federal government regarding healthcare. Since that time, the story has been widely misreported to indicate Domino’s was involved in this action, which is completely untrue. Tom Monaghan sold Domino’s Pizza in 1998 and today has NO active affiliation with our company. The media often neglect to note this fact. His views are not our views, nor are his actions in any way related to our actions. Domino's Pizza has made no public statements about health care, as we are still waiting to see how the final rules will affect our network of small business owners. Domino's is not a political company; it is not a religious company – we are a pizza company........From Dominos Pizzas Facebook page

      January 1, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
  6. fineart

    I wouldn't let my dog eat a Dominos Pizza.

    January 1, 2013 at 5:09 am |
  7. Gregg

    What if the owner of a business is a Jehovah Witness? Can they be allowed to not cover blood transfusions?

    January 1, 2013 at 5:08 am |
  8. GianCarlo

    I stopped buying Domino crap that they serve 10 years ago. I can't stand the guy either.

    January 1, 2013 at 5:02 am |
  9. biglio

    his smile is exactly the same as the movie shooter in Aurora and the exact same as the shooter in Arizona, the Re. Giffords one.....

    January 1, 2013 at 4:59 am |
  10. FreeFromTheism

    good thing Monaghan's religion doesn't state that 'thou shalt not pay taxes'.. can you imagine what would happen then?
    everyone would be taxlessian

    January 1, 2013 at 4:55 am |
  11. Don H of Big D

    It's a crying shame that conservatives from the legislature to the bench to the governor's office are more concerned about the preservation of a fetus but don't give a hoot about preventing unwanted pregnancies or helping provide care to those children who are born. It's far better to be a fetus in the eyes of Republicans than anything else.

    January 1, 2013 at 4:53 am |
  12. Lizard Lance

    Isn't it possible that just because a product is offered doesn't mean that said product must be used? If business owners are truly objecting to birth control based on so-called "religious principles" then they probably have a bigger problem with employees who may have used said birth control.

    Too bad these business owners don't has as big a problem with hiding cash for tax purposes and embezzlement.

    January 1, 2013 at 4:49 am |
  13. cleusch

    I hope his beliefs include denying single men coverage for prescriptions of Viagra!

    January 1, 2013 at 4:46 am |
  14. Bill C

    Another rich guy unwilling to give what everyone else gets in their insurance package. Look at the smirk on his face.

    January 1, 2013 at 4:44 am |
  15. guesswho22

    Screw Dominos Pizza. They go into the same category as has Chik Filet and Papa John's Pizza – they are extremist religious nutjobs. They are to be shunned always!

    January 1, 2013 at 4:43 am |
    • carpe diem

      Earlier this week, news stories came out that Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan had filed suit against the federal government regarding healthcare. Since that time, the story has been widely misreported to indicate Domino’s was involved in this action, which is completely untrue. Tom Monaghan sold Domino’s Pizza in 1998 and today has NO active affiliation with our company. The media often neglect to note this fact. His views are not our views, nor are his actions in any way related to our actions. Domino's Pizza has made no public statements about health care, as we are still waiting to see how the final rules will affect our network of small business owners. Domino's is not a political company; it is not a religious company – we are a pizza company........From Dominos Pizzas Facebook page

      January 1, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
  16. lastride

    1 word to those offended by this....condom?

    January 1, 2013 at 4:31 am |
    • Alpa Chino

      so your last ride was your last ride?

      January 1, 2013 at 4:48 am |
  17. Tyler

    Money talks

    January 1, 2013 at 4:14 am |
    • Alpa Chino

      Bullshit walks

      But they can't touch my three lock box.

      January 1, 2013 at 4:49 am |
  18. Michael

    Simply put, I have no need for their garbage – and I'm talking about their food.

    January 1, 2013 at 4:11 am |
  19. Michael

    Domino's Pizza, like their political views on a woman's right to choose, is shi*

    January 1, 2013 at 4:11 am |
  20. Amy

    Remind me to never work for a company with under 50 employees (or have my husband work for one). I'd be screwed in the birth control department, because my body should NOT be subject to any more pregnancies.

    January 1, 2013 at 4:10 am |
    • Commenter

      Amy,

      It's not like you CAN'T use birth control if you want to - just that they don't want to pay for it. I'd say if you are both working, you can afford it. It's not all that expensive.

      Nevertheless, I don't agree with this company's policy.

      January 1, 2013 at 5:02 am |
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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.