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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

    this site invites you to sheet allover hoooby loooby with lies and proaborts.unless you warning to speeelbund right or be ignoered or applauded for your immqture immaturee righting.as i ddoo do oppopose dayse. they say the same thing over and over/borring me rigut out of this siteeski

    January 4, 2013 at 9:03 am |
  2. david defrank

    tommy im praying for youski realy.do you stoop so lowwwski im stupid dummmmy

    January 4, 2013 at 8:46 am |
  3. david defrank

    im not doune wit you radical feminnazis remember no joke to kill tuhe unborn 'so kokoko op popo to you you'dis you no the bearrs are just as hawaii as rodney dangerfield you book the markky or f12 the save so i decided to come back andd sell my fortune cckies cookies they help discern certain goolpoi

    January 4, 2013 at 8:06 am |
  4. donner

    In a year, Hobby Lobby will be out of business. All because they want to control people's lives. Good riddance.

    January 4, 2013 at 12:37 am |
    • krg

      In year Hobby Lobby will be out of business. All because the givernment want to control people's faith.

      January 4, 2013 at 3:52 am |
    • krg

      government

      January 4, 2013 at 3:54 am |
    • tallulah13

      krg: Businesses are required to obey the law, even christian-owned businesses. The law is for everyone. The justice system is not like the bible; we don't get to chose which laws we obey.

      January 4, 2013 at 4:08 am |
    • david defrank

      bonner stop.hobby lobby has a place in gods providence.you see bonner god made you in his image ..not a trickle down version of clinton. who by the way left his mark allover the chair lincoln sat on .we all no your real concern is not so muchee rubberjons or morning after.rather control of the indusry that slaughters unbornbabiessss.ski

      January 4, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • david defrank

      donner i just started a christian fortune company so i decided to see if i can sell some on this site.sorry i decided last night i need tio vent my ragre as you do do.im notty stupid orry some onre to make funny of. onborn to muchee you make no sensee.population according to census is sanme as ity wase in the farties forties.because you guys put to bedy bye all those babiesski

      January 4, 2013 at 8:39 am |
  5. david defrank

    goodnight i will not everrr came back to this site its dead when tom tom is not around and youother proaborts.so kaka puppo to you and your genuisss logic liker sammy ty was a good frewtyu.so goodbyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.bytes how impressed in later ways how you go squba diving.

    January 3, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • Rabbit

      You're never coming back?

      Can we get that in writing, please?

      January 4, 2013 at 12:07 am |
  6. david defrank

    i mean made in gods image but you have the spirit of the demon.sorry i cant spell to well im stupid dummy your einstien i bet you even wrote a assay on string theory ......................

    January 3, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
  7. david defrank

    by the way whats selling baby which they make millions on those poor women who kill there unborn child with elementary school ..the truth which the trinity is is a problem with you.you see you were mad in gods image. so why are you trying to be so funny .

    January 3, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
    • david defrank

      sorry abut my spelling i just want you guys to dig deep .when i postski

      January 3, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
    • david defrank

      and i meanny maddy in gods image popo pants

      January 4, 2013 at 8:08 am |
  8. david defrank

    utakadowski or whatever yes first in class in most subjects.than backslid a lot almost all the way down to africa several years after but i can box good fought in the golden gloves you would be surprised at the power in my fist.but you probaly sounding by your name had lots more fights than i.

    January 3, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
  9. david defrank

    guess whos pants may be on fire for eternity.

    January 3, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
  10. BeckyT

    Hooray for Hobby Lobby and others who stand up for their beliefs! Same on the government for trying to require someone to do something that is against their beliefs. This should never be a requirement.

    January 3, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
    • david defrank

      becky its shame.be prepared now to be torn to pieces by the kookoo birds on this sick site.watch tom tom the lady who never got over haight and ashbery there are a lot of women on this site who practice being men and men women. ps my spelling sucks lots worse than yours .

      January 3, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
    • Rabbit

      BeckyT, do you understand that the Greens' beliefs are not supported by any facts whatsoever? The drugs they "believe" cause abortion do not. That's why the lawyer worded his response that way. He didn't say "that cause abortion" but "that they believe cause abortion." The Greens can believe whatever narrow-minded nonsense they wish, but when that nonsense is contradicted by simple facts, are you saying they should still get to lord their weird opinions over others who do not share them? That, and do you realize that the Greens are not personally signing over any money to their employees, but instead of just a middleman for purchasing insurance credits–which their employees can use as their consciences dictate. The Greens aren't being called upon to violate any tenet of their own in any way, any more than you violate your conscience when a gay waiter helps your table at Applebee's. What about this kind of controlling delusion, rampant ignorance, and blatant misogyny are you applauding here?

      January 4, 2013 at 12:06 am |
  11. david defrank

    larryo you dont like truthe.you musteeee beee a very cultured smarty pant

    January 3, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
  12. harveykr

    There's the liberal media for you. I swear... This store is very similar to Chick-Fil-A in the sense of their religious beliefs and my question is... WHY are you surprised at their decision?? Frankly, WHY should you care? If you don't like it, find another job and shove off ... On another note, I notice that atheists and liberals talk more about religion than those who are religious. Irony?

    January 3, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
  13. david defrank

    tom tom i will pray for you and the rest.remember this you are in danger of losing your immortal soul.because you no and accept this killing'you guys are in most need of delivarance from satin.again because you new truth and spit on it like they back in chicago spit on us.there were many of us there and many death escorts.i am sure you guys no your friends smartty pantsyy

    January 2, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
    • Liar, liar, pants on fire

      Nobody spit on you. You just drool so much the whole front of your shirt is soaked.

      January 2, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
    • larryo

      I agree, we need deliverance from satin. Going forward I will not shop at Joann Fabrics until they deny satin. However, men still need lapels for our tux jackets. How we will reconcile this issue? And our pantsyy will not match in a smartty way if we don't have that satin stripe down the sides. That means Gingiss Khan Fallwell too. I totally follow your logic. Thanks for posting, I no the truth now.

      January 3, 2013 at 3:16 am |
    • End Religion

      I am always left wondering if Apple Bush has created another character...

      January 3, 2013 at 5:53 am |
    • Akira

      Tom Tom, deliver us from the Nights in White Satin, please.
      Never reaching the end, amen.

      January 3, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • UtauKudasai

      Did you ever even finish elementary school?

      January 3, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Haha, Akira and larryo.

      January 3, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
  14. david defrank

    excuse my spelling they now sell the baby parts.

    January 2, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
    • Liar, liar, pants on fire

      No, "they" don't.

      Why are you bothering to post this silly crap?

      January 2, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
    • larryo

      I must concur with LLPoF on this one. I am a big fan of Hobby Lobby, and never have I seen an aisle labelled "baby parts". Although I bet they might have replacement parts for various generic dolls, as they are awesome with arts and crafts.

      January 3, 2013 at 4:13 am |
  15. david defrank

    mama k you lie

    January 2, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
  16. david defrank

    let me post this they murder as you no up to nine months.

    January 2, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • Liar, liar, pants on fire

      No, "they" don't.

      Why are you bothering to post this silly crap?

      January 2, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
  17. Liar, liar, pants on fire

    david, if you can't cite a news story about this incident, it never happened.

    Do you really think anyone here believes your nonsense? Post proof.

    January 2, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
  18. david defrank

    yes unborn mama maybe 5 months.i held this unborn baby at a march in chicago .you pro aborts spit on the dead child and i.you see its smart asses like you that advocate the murder of the unborn.

    January 2, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.

      January 2, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • Agnostic

      Tourettes?

      January 3, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
  19. david defrank

    we found hundreds it was in the papers.our bishop held mass at the cemetary.they no sell the baby parts.

    January 2, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.

      January 2, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
  20. david defrank

    there you go again call it a baby unborn baby.you find it hard to acept science.or i you saying the doctor who murdered this child killed a pigeon

    January 2, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.Bullsh!t.

      January 2, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
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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.