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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

    on my way to the abortion chamber where people like tom tom butcher little babies.thanks all you jerks with this blood on your hands.we may save a life or 2 today.we counsel and pray there where they kill babies up to 7 months.guess who does this ?

    January 5, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • Max

      I give up. Who does it? Nobody in Chicago, that's who. Keep lying. You've done a great job so far. BTW means by the way, as in "by the way, we don't believe a word you say, and you keep trying to convince us by lying some more."

      January 5, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      David is a poe. Nobody is that stupid.

      January 5, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
  2. Beth

    So backward, their not covering contraceptives, even looking at it business-wise.

    January 5, 2013 at 7:04 am |
  3. girlpirate

    But Hobby Lobby, built and continues to build their "wealth"..doing business (i.e. taking the cheap products and inflating the prices here)..with a country, who "mandates abortion", even "detaining (not imprisoning ) they call it. (holding pregnant rural women in "jail" for 3,4,5 months until they can pursuade them to abort. Tax the hell out of them if they refuse the "one child " law. THAT IS OK FOR HOBBY LOBBY, CAUSE IT MAKES THEM MONEY. JUST wants to control the doctor visit with women here. SOOOO "CONTROL FREAK"...religious bullying. (Fundamentalism?).

    January 5, 2013 at 12:02 am |
    • TheSadFacts

      Your type shops at the walmarts too ...

      January 6, 2013 at 8:42 am |
  4. david defrank

    tom tom your a turd atroll whatever you claim we are but your allso all the rotten names times 10 you immature haight ashbery never grown up bad feminist trying to be a man.watch women of grace on ewtn.and learn how to be a real women.not some punky wordy el creapo.holy you are not.read we need to talk from a modern girl.you will be blessed.its a great read for sick people like you.

    January 4, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
    • End Religion

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAKG-kbKeIo&w=640&h=360]

      January 5, 2013 at 7:22 am |
  5. david defrank

    what does btw mean?????????/ or does this belong to the smartypannts so as to seem smartypants

    January 4, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
  6. david defrank

    romnesia i try.i bet you were real proud of me when my posters were up to snuff.

    January 4, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
  7. donner

    Amazing that this right wing filth wants government out of their lives, but it's OK for corporations to dictate to employees. Just keep thinking. There won't be a GOP in 5 years. Satisfying.

    January 4, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Indeed. The tea-bag voters want the gubmint out of their lives right up until the day a tornado or flood or Godzilla comes. Then they're all like 'The gubmint sucks."

      January 4, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • david defrank

      bonner right wing filth?i would pay you big bucks to say that to my face. you just trashed one half of americans....i tend to think us true conservitives are better than you.

      January 4, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
    • david defrank

      lets all forget your factsheets.they are useless until you affirm the unborn child is human from conception.allmost all your research on contraception allso as expected was full of mum bo jumbo.lots like super genius tom tom the disgruntled feminst.

      January 4, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
  8. truth be told

    At the core of atheism is a lie. It is important in light of these blogs for all honest peoples to realize that all so called "atheists" are liars and those unprincipled liars given opportunity become mass murderers.

    January 4, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Feeling threatened, are you, turd be trolled? Why? If you have Jeebus on your side, don't you have everything?

      Why do you care so much what atheists say, if your god is invincible?

      January 4, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "truth be told", but all of your assertions to date have been either unfounded or falsehoods. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "CHRONIC TOTAL FAIL".

      January 4, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
    • truth be told

      Thank you tom for adding proof to my contentions.

      January 4, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What "lie" did I tell, turdy?

      January 4, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @tbt,

      tell us again about the "lie" at the core of atheism. How do you construe "I don't believe in God" as a "lie"?

      January 4, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I'd get some popcorn, but I am confident that turd by trolled will submerge in its pit of slime now.

      January 4, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
    • Akira

      "At the core of truth be told is a lie. It is important in light of these blogs for all honest peoples to realize that all so called “truth be told trolls" are liars and those unprincipled liars given opportunity become mass murderers. I, of course, am the biggest liar of them all."

      January 4, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Akira, you RAWK!

      January 4, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
    • Akira

      Thanks! {Takes a bow}

      January 4, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
  9. ORLY

    @Bill
    " I understand your willingness to punish people who don't believe what you do but..."

    So others should not get certain medical care because a company doesn't believe in the law?

    January 4, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
    • david defrank

      poor akira. truth is love. love is jesus christ.atheism is as atheist are not founded on all truths.i have atheist friends in the prolife movement.good people.they no truth.but not all.so lots of lies happen when one is not wise.

      January 4, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
    • Akira

      Mr. DeFrank recognizes trollism.
      I wonder why he is so versed in that?

      January 4, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
    • Akira

      And, Mr. DeFrank, I am from the Chicago area, and I can say without reservation that your little baby story is a bald-faced lie, as most of you bloviating bullsh!t is.
      I realize you feel strongly about this, but when you lie to support you argument, you look like the moron you are.
      Cut the sh!t.
      I know better.

      January 4, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
  10. ja

    the so called ehics, what about the items hobby lobby sell that is made in sweat shops, etc

    January 4, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • Maggie

      Because children only matter when they're unborn. Once out of the womb, they serve no other purpose than a source of cheap labour...and women only serve as incubators for said cheap labour!

      January 4, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
  11. jockyjo

    If the employees don't want those products, then they aren't really forced to use them either. So wherein lies the problem? It doesn't exist except if one thinks that demanding your employees not to use what is available to them as citizens of the US. Denying your employees products that are available to all citizens is not an excuse. true believers wouldn't use the products any way but denying them the right others have is prejudicial treatment.

    January 4, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      If the products are already available to all U.S. citizens, how is HL denying them to its employees?

      January 4, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Bill, for birth control, hopefully it is not, because that is relatively affordable. Although for birth control pills several visits may be required and the costs of copays can add up. The problem, however, which has been raised here several times and is always ignored by your side, is that this opens the door to refusing to cover ANYTHING. If the $200,000 cancer treatment is seen as unethical by your vegan CEO because tested on animals, they can deny it...and for most people working these jobs, that is a true denial.

      What these anti-birth control types want is to deny the one little thing they don't like, but they aren't willing to open it up and have everything else denied. And if they are they expose their utter ignorance about how people obtain jobs and medical care in this country. If companies can deny expensive cancer treatments on ethical grounds the whole house of cards is likely to fall.

      January 4, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • Live4Him

      So, we can force you to buy Bibles for others and as long as you don't read them it's ok?

      January 4, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Thank you L4 you beat me to it.

      January 4, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Since when is a Bible a basic health care purchase?

      Do you get dumber every day?

      January 4, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
  12. GoldenGirl

    I feel every woman who wants it should have access to birth control. I also believe every American has freedom of religion. This means the government should provide birth control to those who can't afford it but should NOT require a private individual or group to do so.

    January 4, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • david defrank

      nuts

      January 4, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Only problem GG the government needs a patsy to write the check since governments never create wealth, they only move it from one group to another.

      January 4, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Bill, That's not true. Infrastructure enables business which generates wealth. Appropriate centralization can save money which is an indirect way to increase wealth. Appropriate prevention and regulation can save money (food safety, drug safety, etc.) which is an indirect way to increase wealth. Governments prepare for, and wage, wars which definitely is lucrative for some businesses.

      January 4, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      well, at least you're an honest out of the closet socialist

      January 4, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Since this would apply to every other medical treatment anyone could object to on ethical grounds (meaning all medical treatments) you support a full national health program. All well...except what do you want in the meantime? It will be years before a full public health system is in place in this country.

      January 4, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
  13. tony

    Good!

    January 4, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
  14. clint

    Those drugs don't cause abortion, so, if their argument is that their religion prohibits abortion and these drugs cause abortion, then they deserve to be fined because their claim is incorrect.

    January 4, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • clint

      Religion only provides so much cover to do what you want, folks. Ask the parents of children denied medical treatment because their religion forbids certain life-saving medical procedures. If you want a face-to-face interview, though, you'll usually have to enter a prison because that's where they end up.

      Lesson: Sometimes, when you want your religious faith to dictate how you can treat other people who aren't of your faith or who haven't consentually entered into a binding religious order, etc., and you want to try and force them to behave in a way that complies with your faith, you'll find that your religious belief is slightly less important than a bucket of spit.

      January 4, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Does you know if misoprostol is covered under the AHCA?

      January 4, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      How about any of these? Are they covered?

      Cytotec
      Pitocin
      Cervidil
      Hemabate
      Syntocinon
      Prepidil

      January 4, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • david defrank

      what ??????????????????????????????/

      January 4, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Bill, btw no H just ACA

      January 4, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Thanks Santa, that will prove helpful.

      January 4, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Who takes Pitocin every day, Billy?

      Why should anyone care about your opinion on contraceptives when you were too stupid or careless to use one and ended up causing an abortion?

      January 4, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why are you listing medications like Pitocin? What relevance does this have to the issue? There is no part of the ACA that states that any and all medications are covered, you simpleton. Contraception is used by 98% of women at some point in their lives, Bill, no matter what the Pope says. There is no reason it shouldn't be covered by insurance.

      January 4, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • david defrank

      clint they do. satins friend satan got you by the balls.satan concentrates only on the intelligent like you satin on the least fortunate.

      January 4, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • david defrank

      clint are you serious??????// noone can possibly believe you .only some one with brain blockage problems ...im very very very stupid dummy and i dont believe you. are you a cowboy?ithink so .i bet your baptist friends have a hard time listening to your miss information.

      January 4, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
  15. Bill Deacon

    Here's a good link. Looks as if you will have to boycott a number of Obama contributors as well.

    http://www.economiccollapse.net/733-companies-unions-groups-with-2189636-workers-exempt-from-obamacare

    January 4, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      So you link to an obviously biased article that claims to have a list, but when the link is pressed, it merely goes to the cciio website home page. Good job Bill, you have once again provided absolutely nothing to any conversation.

      January 4, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Sorry Hawaii I should have realized expecting you to dig for any information was unrealistic.

      January 4, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Still unable to actually address a point Bill, and instead claim that I didn't do any digging. I went to your link, read the article, and followed their link to a place that didn't support what they were saying. Congrats, you have once again shown utter disregard for actual facts.

      January 4, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
  16. Nietodarwin

    GREAT NEWS All these crappy "faith based" companies have lost my business forever. They can all thank loud mouthed xstian Dan Kathy of Chick fil A for bring this to my attention, but I WILL NEVER DO BUSINESS AGAIN WITH
    Chick fil A
    In and Out Burger
    Hobby Lobby
    Tyson Chicken...........................AND THE LIST WILL KEEP GROWING, the more I learn about this.

    January 4, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      I’m an atheist, and a militant atheist when religion starts impacting on legislation.”
      _ Daniel Radcliffe

      January 4, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Add Tyndale Publishing, American Pulverizer and Domino's Farms. Looking for a more comprehensive list for you.

      January 4, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • Holier than thou.

      Bill Deacon
      Defending the criminal actions of the RCC, keep up your disgusting work, or you could wait for the courts to decide. No comment on the latest scandal at the vatican, nothing to say?

      January 4, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      You are aware that the investigation under way was instigated because of a report filed by the bank president are you not?

      January 4, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • david defrank

      good go to a chineze buffet

      January 4, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • lol??

      Tryin' to grab a bit of righteousness, daaahhwin?....."1Cr 6:13 Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body [is] not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body."

      January 4, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • david defrank

      good

      January 4, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
  17. david defrank

    os im traing my self for a comedy on broadway.thats why i post such noon sense

    January 4, 2013 at 10:34 am |
  18. david defrank

    midwest realy you is drunk?and stupidder life is sacred and not a bore for gakili im stupid dumm like phillus diller so whoopsedayse is drunkk in afunk do you meanny me dummy

    January 4, 2013 at 10:29 am |
  19. david defrank

    all hospitals that dont pass out abort pills adoption agency s against obanoa obamma careski are granted a reprieve only untill august.there afterall catholic hospitals may closee and adption agencies close.so gett your facts righgtyy tommy.you guys are advocating a possible colapse of our economy.so far its tied 2 to 2 in the courts.sonia satremyear put a little monkey wrench on her ruilingski.we will win though or face the destruction of our right to religious freadom by the hhs rulling.

    January 4, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • midwest rail

      Drunk and stupid is no way to go through life.

      January 4, 2013 at 9:51 am |
  20. david defrank

    another thing watch the cdoor a fllouresent light burns holes on balls that you use to play basedon is 390 and start making senseand i will stop giving you heavsanly adviseski

    January 4, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • david defrank

      you see i make no sense because you turner fans dont either so poppy to you

      January 4, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • Romnesia

      Actually I was thinking your posts are getting better. They still make no sense. btw Don't give up your day job, you've got a long way to go before you'll make it as a comedian.

      January 4, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • robbie

      ..

      January 4, 2013 at 10:05 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.