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.

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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. Happy New Year Everybody

    No Need for religions to be involved.
    ORIGIN OF LIFE: Hypothesis Traces First Protocells Back to Emergence of Cell Membrane Bioenergetics
    Dec. 20, 2012 — A coherent pathway – which starts from no more than rocks, water and carbon dioxide and leads to the emergence of the strange bio-energetic properties of living cells – has been traced for the first time in a major hypothesis paper in Cell this week.

    January 1, 2013 at 7:39 am |
  2. Larry jones

    I wonder how his religious beliefs jive with the poverty his employees live in because of the lack of any type of substantial wage and benefits.

    January 1, 2013 at 7:37 am |
    • mique

      He's fine with that.

      January 1, 2013 at 7:53 am |
  3. Sandvichmancer

    The Catholics are taking over the US government and looking to their lowest common denominators to hop onto new media sources and blame the Jews for it.

    January 1, 2013 at 7:27 am |
  4. izzie

    That this is even an issue is beyond me. Since these companies do not pay but a small portion of the employees insurance premiums, they should have no say as to what is covered or not. That should be up to the particulars of the insurance plan or plans provided. None of the drugs that are being argued are in any way shape or form a manner of abortion. They keep an egg from being released to avoid fertilization, period. None will cause a spontaneous abortion. As for Hobby Lobby, they promote their stores being closed on Sundays in accordance with the Sabbath, so that the employees may attend services. But only the retail side of their business is closed. Their warehouse and trucking employees work 7 days a week. A wee bit of hypocrisy there. And, between the fact they try to keep employees at a minimum of hours per week and pay very little towards their employees premiums, a good percentage of their hourly employees qualify for government assistance.

    January 1, 2013 at 7:27 am |
    • mique


      January 1, 2013 at 7:33 am |
  5. dutchtown

    If a women needs birth control for a health condition, then it should be covered,but if its for just birth control, buy it your self.
    I dont see the argument here.

    January 1, 2013 at 7:27 am |
    • mique

      Religous stupidity?

      January 1, 2013 at 7:35 am |
  6. mique

    Oh PryzFytr, don't you think should be able to voice my opinion and stand up for what I believe in? The man in the photo with a smirk on his face is never going to have to ask permission to get a vasectomy or viagra

    January 1, 2013 at 7:24 am |
  7. Josh

    What does his religion have to say about paying a liveable wage?

    January 1, 2013 at 7:24 am |
    • dutchtown

      your making pizza's,what do you want.

      January 1, 2013 at 7:32 am |
    • mique

      A forty hour week with health benefits would be nice.

      January 1, 2013 at 7:55 am |
  8. Kevin

    The headline is totally bogus. He isn't a "pizza magnate". He sold Domino's in 1998. Try for journalistic integrity next time, CNN.

    January 1, 2013 at 7:21 am |
  9. Brooke Willson

    1. Contraception does not "destroy innocent human life." No one rationally claims that life begins before fertilization; otherwise, they'd be outlawing menstruation and wet dreams.

    2. What's the most effective way to prevent an abortion? Abstinence, obviously. But what's the second most effective means? Contraception. If Roman Catholics and other anti-abortion advocates really wanted to radically reduce the number of abortions performed, they'd get serious about contraception.

    January 1, 2013 at 7:16 am |
    • dutchtown

      Im catholic and I agree with you but pay for it yourself.Meybe if obama's mom would have taken your advice,we wouldn't be having this argument.

      January 1, 2013 at 7:37 am |
    • Mark

      Contraception by its very nature artificially and purposefully subverts the transmission of life in the act of communion between man and woman; it is therefore considered to be an act of betrayal to God's procreative design for humanity, and thus sinful.

      January 1, 2013 at 7:42 am |
  10. thedoctor

    Corporations don't have religious beliefs. Corporations don't attend services and they don't go to hell if they are naughty. They must obey the law. Corporations are required to spend money on all sorts of things their managers would rather not. If you believe your job violates your religious beliefs, then quit!

    What's really going on here is a manager (who may hold a lot of the corporation's stock) imposing his religious beliefs on all the corporations' employees. He's not paying for the coverage; the corporation is. He's just another employee. If the manager were a Hindu, would it be OK for him to remove meat products from all the company's cafeterias?

    January 1, 2013 at 7:13 am |
    • Jeff Orlando

      Thank you. Point well made. These are just religious zealots imposing their archaic morality on the rest of us.

      January 1, 2013 at 7:28 am |
    • Sandvichmancer

      But corporations are people too. That's why it's wrong to tax them in any way shape or form (unless they're environmentally friendly, at which point they government should take over the industry so that there's no personal property to get in the way of the governmentelly approved industries of Arab dinosaur sauce and Confederate rocks).

      January 1, 2013 at 7:32 am |
  11. TampaMel

    The business owners who are not interested in providing healthcare to their employees should be boycotted. This reproductive issue is only a disguise for, "I don't care if my employees have health insurance because if one gets sick I can just replace that person without spending any more money and that is good for me and my bank account. Oh, and BTW, I have health insurance so why should I care about my employees?"

    January 1, 2013 at 6:54 am |
  12. EJ

    Of course religous beliefs are being used to escape providing this need so that this selfish person can keep to himself as much money as he can. He and the judge are ignoring the religous rights of his employees who differs from his. When a person does business with the public they have no right to impose their personal beluefs on that public.

    January 1, 2013 at 6:45 am |
  13. Larry

    Something these idiots who are against this mandate are missing is what other issues certain types of "the pill" can be used for and its not just birth control theyre expected to make sure their health insurance covers but also treatment and care relating to pregnancy. Imagine of they paid people $10 or $12 an hr how expensive their piece of crap pizza would be. They know that if they provide ins that covers all this very typical every day stuff theyd loose some of their profits and when they tried to raise the cost of their crap pizza dramatically to regain profits theyd loose a lot of sales. They could care less about their religion and fairy tales

    January 1, 2013 at 6:36 am |
    • mique

      They have lost sales to me. So has Hobby Lobby.

      January 1, 2013 at 7:25 am |
    • Scott

      Larry, just to set the record straight, the pizza chain is not part of the company involved in this court case.

      January 1, 2013 at 7:26 am |
  14. sean burns

    What is that wooden idol in the background? Is he a worshiper of Diana/Artemis? Is it Isis? It's wooden- perhaps the wiccan Earth Mother? How strange!

    January 1, 2013 at 6:27 am |
    • Brooke Willson

      No, it's pretty clearly Mary. Monaghan is a huge devotee of the Virgin.

      January 1, 2013 at 7:20 am |
  15. mique

    Why are pizza company owners such pains in the behind? I have stopped buying anything from these narrow minded minimum wage paying folks. No contraception, little lady, but don't expect to raise a child on this salary either.

    January 1, 2013 at 6:22 am |
    • PryzFytr

      Gosh, mique, so you don't respect someone who stands up for their beliefs? Too bad.
      Thea, look up how much Christians donate to charity (and also note that donating money IS donating time!!!)
      ObamaCare is evil, it is a Marxist inroad to the destruction of liberty.

      January 1, 2013 at 6:38 am |
    • Jeff Orlando

      Evil? Get a grip extremist.

      January 1, 2013 at 7:30 am |
  16. rickirs

    "Thomas Monaghan had "shown that abiding by the mandate will substantially burden his exercise of religion" ? HIS exercise? Fine if HE doesn't want to take contraceptives or reproductive health services. But what about the women who work FOR him? He cannot deny them and violate their religious beliefs OR the lack thereof.

    January 1, 2013 at 6:16 am |
    • Joe

      They don't have to work for him.

      January 1, 2013 at 6:28 am |
    • Scott

      That is EXACTLY right. And what most readers miss with characters like this, again and again, is the COSTS TO FIGHT IN COURT are intiated by HIM/THEM. It has NOTHING to do with 'religious' beliefs and more to do with pure and simple spite by the GOP against 'icky girls and gay things'. Most of these are old, white men whose 'nether regions' don't even work anymore so they take their frustrations about that out on young men and women with reproductive potential. They know, too, since they can win on issues like this against American workers then they can probably start hammering away at wether or not to include chemotherapy coverage for long term cancer patients, or necessary surgeries, or [insert some other health 'problem']. It's a bunch of angry, impotent old men who are angry that they're impotent so they want to take their angries out on the young women that dont want them and the young men that can't relate to their creaky, bitter minds. And they try to do it all while hiding behind the cross of Christ. Cowards, the whole lot of 'em....

      January 1, 2013 at 7:25 am |
  17. Jerry

    This whole thing is stupid. A "Company" cannot hold religious convictions. Any company that is publicly owned should have to conform to the law, period. Only when a company is more than 50% owned by an individual should that individual's religious convictions against this law be given any consideration, whatsoever. Even then the individual's convictions should carry no weight because although he may have the right to believe as he will he has NO right to detrimentally affect another person by forcing his beliefs on them. Worship your imaginary friend(s) all you want but keep that happy-crappy to yourself and out of my health care!

    January 1, 2013 at 6:04 am |
    • Normal in NH

      And explain to me Jerry...why wouldn't this CEO simply stop providing healthcare of any kind to his employees?

      January 1, 2013 at 6:24 am |
  18. Steve mass

    Learn your stuff people. He is no longer affilated with dominoes and hasn't Been since the 90s. Damn you people are dumb

    January 1, 2013 at 6:04 am |
  19. Moe of Tennessee

    Who eats domino pizza anyway'? Its garbage

    January 1, 2013 at 5:58 am |
    • jzaks

      Thin and crispy crust with mushrooms and olives. Garbage or not, it sure is good.

      January 1, 2013 at 6:43 am |
    • Mike

      And so is the ruling. These hypocrites claim to be pro-life and yet they are anti-life in death penalty cases. I'm surprised they have not argued that gonorrhea should not be covered since its the result of sin against the Lord. Child out of wedlock? The list is huge. But the motivation is $$$$$.

      January 1, 2013 at 7:31 am |
  20. thea

    Another company I will no longer buy from. It has nothing to do with their religion, just don't want to pay. Oh, by the way, how many of these people actually go out and donate their time and energy actually voluntering at soup kitchens, orphanages etc. Now let all the christians go out in force and spend their money there.

    January 1, 2013 at 5:55 am |
    • Rob

      Nor should they have to. If you don't want to have a baby, keep your pants on and stop expecting others to pay for your stupid decisions

      January 1, 2013 at 6:53 am |
    • mique

      Rob, I think it was your son that knowcked her up. Oh, you forgot men are half the problem? A
      nyway nimrod, a little education will go a long way in understanding hormone regulation and other problems we strange creature called women must deal with. it isn't all about abortion. Think and you shall recieve.

      January 1, 2013 at 7:38 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.