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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. AGeek

    That's the last dollar Domino's gets from me. You want to screw your employees? I'll screw your business so your employees can go somewhere else to be treated fairly. You #$^%ing holier-than-thou religious #$(*ing #$(*ers. Hypocritical to the last and caring about nobody but yourselves. ^#(%* you, you #%(ing #%@s.

    January 1, 2013 at 9:07 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 4:33 pm |
  2. MG

    Thanks for the Dog food.

    January 1, 2013 at 9:05 am |
  3. SensibleJoe

    Will the courts also allow doctors who are Jehovah's Witness to deny blood transfusions to patients who are not Jehovah's Witnesses because blood transfusions are against "free exercise" of their religion? Slippery slope...

    January 1, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • Extra Medium

      There were pharmacists that refused to give out contraceps on religious ground . May be Tommie Monagan should buy up all the pharmacies so that he can control the pills. ( and Rush Limbo can get his oxicontins for free w/o prescription )

      January 1, 2013 at 9:09 am |
  4. Karen Stewart

    This is a slippery slope. What's going to happen when a company objects to blood transfusions, chemotherapy, or immunizations? Can I, as an employee, refuse to pay MY portion of the premiums since services I want are being denied?

    January 1, 2013 at 9:04 am |
  5. CarmenSo

    One of his employees should sue for forcing his religious beliefs on them.

    January 1, 2013 at 9:03 am |
  6. Respectfully

    Mr. Monaghan, I have nothing but respect for you and your beliefs. However, is not the attempt to force your religious belief on those who do not share your view exactly what the separation of Church and State is all about? I do not believe that the provision in the health care law forces anyone to use contracetives. However, it gives everyone an option that may now be affordable for more people. Realistically, abstinance will never be the norm. How many abused, neglected,and murdered kids are there in this country? Seems to me that enabling an affordable option is far better than the latest news story about a parent harming their own child. Please take other views under consideration before trying to instill yours in us.

    January 1, 2013 at 9:01 am |
  7. DIna

    Worst commercial pizza I have ever had the misfortune to bite into. If you're going to put all the work into making a product, why not try to do it well? I don't get it.

    January 1, 2013 at 8:58 am |
  8. scmaize

    Nice to know that if you're rich enough, you can pick and choose which laws you want to obey. There are lots of laws I disagree with, but I don't think my "conscience" will get an exemption for me. "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's." The courts are allowing corporations free rein, as usual, but individuals have to toe the line.

    January 1, 2013 at 8:57 am |
  9. 1_4Eaglemeat

    It is always nice to see Uncle Slime take one in the chops and not get his way. I will order a pizza tonight!

    January 1, 2013 at 8:56 am |
    • SensibleJoe

      If you order from Domino's, you won't get a pizza. You'll get a parody of one.

      January 1, 2013 at 9:07 am |
  10. Bhawk

    Driving on the right side of the road is a burden on my religion which believes only commands from God. I should not be forced to yeild or stop–against my religion.

    January 1, 2013 at 8:54 am |
    • Walter Strong

      Post of the year!

      January 1, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • Chad

      I agree....except for the spelling of "yield"

      January 1, 2013 at 9:05 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      What religion is that?

      January 1, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • Bobby

      Outstanding! Of course, the slow antelope will not understand the analogy. Just remember, "Pizza, Pizza" Little Caesar's from now on. This guy already had a billion dollars.

      January 1, 2013 at 9:13 am |
  11. Chris

    So why can't Jewish delis require their employees keep Kosher, since really it is the employer imposing his religious beliefs on the employees?

    January 1, 2013 at 8:52 am |
    • Carol

      That is good, and makes the point perfectly

      January 1, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Except it doesn't. The point is not the imposition of the employers beliefs on anyone. It is the government forcing employers to go against their beliefs for the benefit of others.

      January 1, 2013 at 9:09 am |
  12. MrWright007

    No more dominoes for me and my family. I can find better cardboard to eat somewhere else, where they care about their employees and not their bottom line.

    January 1, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Perfectly reasonable response. The places you choose may offer contraception as a benefit by their free choice. Others may dine elsewhere where contraception is not offered. It's about freedom to choose right?

      January 1, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • Bill

      Bill Deacon: It's a reasonable responce, but that doesn't mean it's reasonable to let Domino's force their idiot beliefs on others.

      January 1, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • Bill

      Darn, of course I meant response. =D

      January 1, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • Surprise

      Bill Deacon
      You #$^& hypocrite, using the term, it's about freedom to choose right? You constantly deny that freedom to a woman to do as she chooses with her own body. You are at best pathetic.

      January 1, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Bill,. why weren't you wearing a rubber when you had s3x with your girlfriend? You weren't married, so you were committing a sin in the eyes of the church.

      Double whammo.

      January 1, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • 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 8:21 pm |
  13. scott

    Ii's a BUSINESS not a CHURCH! If you don't want to comply with the law of the land then GET OUT OF THE BUSINESS and go back to worshipping the giant spaghetti monster in the sky or whatever other mythological being you want.

    January 1, 2013 at 8:49 am |
  14. tuffi

    No more pizza from Domino's for me!

    January 1, 2013 at 8:44 am |
    • jules

      Their pizza was crap, anyway.

      January 1, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • ogre12

      then also stay out of my restaurant I dont want your business atheist.

      January 1, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • darth cheney

      jules, please stop insulting feces like that. Feces are very beneficial to our health.

      January 1, 2013 at 8:52 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 8:22 pm |
  15. ProCatholic

    The moment you require employers to pay for such services, they are no longer a decision "between women and their doctors" because the law and government have compelled a third party to participate in such services. Thus, they would necessarily be involved in the process and their consciences must be considered. I hope the courts use common sense in this issue and rule in favor of businesses to exercise conscience and avoid participating in abortion and contraception.

    January 1, 2013 at 8:42 am |
    • Bill

      Really? So if a shop owner hates black people, then they should be able to just slap a "no nigs" sign on their front door, too, right? As well as refusing to hire those people, etc., etc. Sorry, but your religion doesn't give you the right to trample everyone else.

      January 1, 2013 at 8:57 am |
    • Really

      An exemption was already granted for faith based insti tutes, but the RCC was not satisfied, they want to cover private and public corporations also, thus the slippery slope. That is the problem with the religions, they are not satisfied with dictating to their own flock but press their views on everyone. If Domino's Farms had only RCC employees or was a faith based business it would have a case, but that would probably violate other discriminatory laws.

      January 1, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      "I hope the courts use common sense in this issue and rule in favor of businesses to exercise conscience and avoid participating in abortion and contraception"

      Considering both are legal, the court's won't be doing much but upholding the laws according to the present plan in place. This employer is not more special than any other one.

      January 1, 2013 at 10:28 am |
  16. Jennifer

    I wasn't aware that ""shown that abiding by the mandate will substantially burden his exercise of religion" freedom of religion allowed you to force your beliefs on others.... Oh wait it doesn't this guy is nuts and the judge should be disbarred.

    January 1, 2013 at 8:37 am |
    • Bernard Webb

      As far as I can tell, "forcing their beliefs on others" is Job One for today's extreme "Christians". It's the same thing that we see extreme Muslims doing in other countries. This is what religion does to a person. It doesn't matter WHICH religion.

      January 1, 2013 at 8:44 am |
    • TSB8C

      You can have all the birth control you want, but don't make me pay for it.

      January 1, 2013 at 8:46 am |
    • CarmenSo

      The Christian Taliban is dancing today

      January 1, 2013 at 9:00 am |
  17. Bernard Webb

    First it was Godfather's pizza. Then Papa John's. Now it's Domino's. Is there some inherent link between pizza and raging conservatism.

    PLEASE don't tell me that Donato's is also run by a right-wing nutjob. It's my favorite!

    January 1, 2013 at 8:36 am |
    • darth cheney

      There is only a correlation between VERY BAD pizza and raging conservatism.

      January 1, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • scmaize

      Glad to hear that! Makes me feel better.

      January 1, 2013 at 8:59 am |
  18. Noconfusion

    Next will be a religion against minimum wage. What a load these judges are. Religion taking precedence over law that's a really great prescription for society. Of course we have a ban in federal funding of abortion because it may offend someone's sky daddy.

    Why don't these people have the balls to come out and say women should be barefoot and pregnant. Don't kid yourself that's what it is about

    January 1, 2013 at 8:36 am |
  19. ginger315

    The fact is, you can get brith control FREE at any major Planned Parenthood Clnic.

    January 1, 2013 at 8:35 am |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      But they don't deliver the pills like they do pizzas

      January 1, 2013 at 8:37 am |
    • GrannieGJL

      BUT, they are after Planned Parenthood and eliminating all their funding sources. Of course it's stupid since it's been shown that providing free birth control reduced abortion rates. No more Domino's pizza for us. At some point we have to have the courage of our convictions. I am not shopping at Hobby Lobby either.

      January 1, 2013 at 8:52 am |
  20. Jimmy Carter

    Wow! It's like I've won a second term - and I wasn't even running!

    Thank God you Millenials are a bunch of idiots or you'd NEVER know what's happening!

    January 1, 2013 at 8:33 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.