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. Jack

    So, if I am a Christian Scientist I can simply deny my employees all medical insurance, because I believe that medical intervention is an affront to god? Think about it..

    January 1, 2013 at 9:53 am |
    • PaulB

      Technically, yes. If it violates the owners personal religious views. That's the beauty of the separation of church and state. But here again, you have the state of government treading upon the church. Totally violates the law of the land and the Bill of Rights. There is no right per say for an employer to have to hire a particular individual. If the person doesn't like the religious beliefs of the owner and their implications, they can always start looking for another job or accept the views of their employer.

      January 1, 2013 at 10:05 am |
    • Jack

      PaulB, unfortunately you have misinterpreted the purpose and meaning of "separation of church and state". The purpose is in fact to protect the people from just this sort of religious interference in other peoples lives. This is why we have laws and policies that dictate for the common good. By your standard, if you don't believe in education, you should not have to contribute to public schools. If you would prefer dirt roads, then you shouldn't pay taxes which go towards road maintenance. Each business is not an individual fiefdom of religious laws and beliefs. So sorry.

      January 1, 2013 at 10:18 am |
  2. Ram

    No more Dominos.... If I am a right advocate I have to fight for everyobe's right not just my rights the way I see it... So No MORE DOMINOS...

    January 1, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • steven

      I've been boycotting dominos for the past 15 years ecuse odf his stance on abortion, i wonder what his stand would be if he were an unwed woman of about 18 yrs or so and pregnant.... or if he had a child of about 16 that got preganant...with nofather in sight....think that maybe the story would be different.....thease ass holes have a wy of th inking only of their own self interest...and could care less about how the life of a mother child can be screwed up....because of and timely birth.

      January 1, 2013 at 10:06 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 4:31 pm |
    • Rational Humanist

      carpe diem is wrong. Monaghan still owns a 7 percent stake in the company.

      January 1, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
  3. sheehanje

    Anyone who thinks he's doing this for religious reasons needs their heads examined.

    I am against abortion – not in a fanatical way, but I just don't believe in it. However I also don't think I have any business telling a woman what to do with her body.

    Also, I know my wife needed contraceptive type shots because of excessive bleeding during her period that was causing her to pass out and get anemic. They needed to regulate her cycle and the shots helped with that. This is one of the things covered – but apparently this asshat thinks his religious views outweigh the expertise of the medical field.

    I will never order anything from Domino's. Ever.

    January 1, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Judith

      This has nothing to do with Domino Pizzas, he sold that company fourteen years ago, as you would know had you read the article.

      January 1, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • skipray

      I bet the owner of Domino's doesn't even go to church.I won't buy from them either.Local pizza restaurants are better for the economy anyway.

      January 1, 2013 at 9:50 am |
  4. Apex301

    And I will never buy Domino's pizza again.
    Added to the list of pizza companies that think they are more important than their employees, and will never get my or my friends business again. Billionaires that think that pretending to be religious or that the health insurance they provide is somehow only for themselves, make me sick.

    January 1, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • JustSaying2U

      "Monaghan sold his majority interest in the pizza company in 1998."
      I, too was about to put Dominos on my persona non grata list, but I did read this line. Now, as for Papa Johns, they are still a no-go, for their antipathy at providing healthcare insurance for their employees.

      January 1, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • uncdig

      just called in my order for 2 extra large peeperonis! Way to go Monaghan!
      "Federal lawyers-said economically disadvantaged women...was a compelling governmental issue" Then let the government fund them. Problem is politicians want to shift the burden & the responsibility away from themselves to private business. They don't want the responsibility or public visability of being pro abortion.

      January 1, 2013 at 9:36 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 4:31 pm |
    • Rational Humanist

      carpe diem is wrong.
      Monaghan still owns a 7 percent stake in the company.
      and the pizza really does suck.

      January 1, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
  5. genold

    I respond to religious nuts who own businesses by initiating a powerfully sensible act... I no longer purchase from Dominos, Chickfilet, Hobby Lobby. And with social media the word spreads. At least from my little efforts there are at least fifty people who will never do business with the religious freaks.

    January 1, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • ally buster


      January 1, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • mabear87

      I totally agree!! No more dominos and no more chick filea.

      January 1, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • uncdig

      yum yum- dominoes pizza & chik fi la for breakfast. Breakfast of champions! God Bless America!

      January 1, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • G24U

      Dominis, Pappa Johns, Hobby Lobby....Off my list as well. Is there anything they sell that we really need?

      January 1, 2013 at 9:47 am |
  6. John

    Uhmmm...... Try actually reading the article, he no longer owns Dominos Pizza. In the meantime, nobody is trying to force their religous beliefs on anybody. The products are still legal, they just need to be bought with somebody elses cash.

    January 1, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • ally buster

      YES he is trying to force his farcical fairy tale upon us!

      AND he still makes money off of the Domino's pizza corporation. THEY will NEVER earn one single CENT from ME!!!!!

      January 1, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • Jack

      So, if I am a Christian Scientist and believe that all medical attention is an affront to god, I should be able to deny my employees all medical insurance? Think about it...

      January 1, 2013 at 9:48 am |
  7. Keebes

    Think about it rationally. Why should any biz or gov be required to pay for birth control? It is not a medical need. It is a lifestyle choice. Gov funded abortion is appaling. When are people going to start assuming responsibility for thier own actions?

    Birth control is not a right!!!! Leeches. Why should Ihave to pay for other promiscuity?

    January 1, 2013 at 9:22 am |
    • Vidyashanti

      No Sir, it is not life style choice. Please read up or ask a qualified doctor to know how birth control pills etc work.

      January 1, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • Tad

      Birth-control is not abortion for one, and for two if no one pays for birth control for lower income employees then you will be paying for their children through welfare.

      January 1, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • Extra Medium

      Whoaa, take it easy ally: don't suggest that. Keebes might actually get himself pregnant 😉

      January 1, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • Trent

      Because if you don't pay for their contraception now you'll be paying for their welfare later. Prevention!

      January 1, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Apex301

      Spoken as an undereducated Republican that thinks the rest of the people are somehow leeches because he gets all his news from FOX. It was pretty funny when all those GOP goobs were shocked when Obama won after FOX predicted a Romney victory. That is what happens when you get all your news from only one source and that source does not fact check anything.
      Those people you are calling leeches, are WORKING FOR A LIVING, and WORKING VERY HARD FOR LITTLE PAY, so your logic falls apart.

      January 1, 2013 at 9:32 am |
    • Robert Brown

      ally buster,
      Keebes is right why should I have to pay for your morning after pill, this stuff should be excluded and you know it. That is why your only reply was profanity because there is no rational argument.

      January 1, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • Strychnine

      Have you ever done any research on hormonal therapy? Birth control is only a facet of what birth control hormonal therapy provides. Some women use birth control not as a contraceptive but as a way to regulate their monthly cycles (their period). It's people like you that have a knee-jerk reaction and think that everyone else has the same train of thought as you. You should use Bing/Google before you spout off at the keyboard.... Please.

      January 1, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • Topaz114

      Keebes, you're being hypocritical. You say that they shouldn't pay for birth control, yet that they also shouldn't cover abortions: pregnancy is the RESULT of having no birth control. THEN you say people need to assume responsibility for their own actions. Birth control IS being responsible so that you don't get pregnant. Birth control does concern employers because they will pay a whole lot more funding health insurance for a pregnancy than they would for some birth control pills.

      January 1, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "Promiscuity"? You think the only women who use birth control are single women who are promiscuous? You are stupid. Women, almost ALL women, spend 75% or their reproductive years trying to make sure they don't get pregnant. What kind of moronic suppositions are you making? Do you think married women ONLY have s3x to get pregnant?

      Well, maybe YOUR wife does. Why else would she want to get that close to you?

      January 1, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • Buzzwad

      I noticed this old fart and others have not brought up the fact that viagra is being paid for with goverment money's. And will you religious nuts please tell me again, that condoms do not protect you and the significant other from STD's? Far more cheaper to provide contraception than have to pay for it in the ER...

      January 1, 2013 at 9:51 am |
    • froggyalley

      Great idea! Penis tax! Women can't get pregnant without it. Stupid cows can't be trusted to keep their legs together, so you guys have to man up and do what's right. Penis tax!

      January 1, 2013 at 10:05 am |
  8. pat burlage

    Oh REALLY? Thomas Monaghan only has four children, are you telling me he accomplished this without the help of contraception? I don't believe it, he's just looking for a reason to spend less of his money, and hiding behind his religion.

    January 1, 2013 at 9:22 am |
    • J.

      You hit then ail on the head. These people who want this exception should be required to prove their faith. As a Christian this makes me sick! Your employer should not be able to tell you want to do with your body.

      January 1, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • froggyalley

      and your employer should not be attempting to direct your faith either!

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

    What about those of us that aren't religious. I thought corperations weren't people.
    I worked for Dominoes for a few years. The workers have no health insurance. They won't let you make overtime either.

    January 1, 2013 at 9:21 am |
    • Vidyashanti

      Going to the church does not make a person religious. The so called phony religious people use religion as a tool to hide behind.

      January 1, 2013 at 9:32 am |
  10. NoPizzaForMe

    So the pizza guy thinks his religious beliefs are above what every one of his employees beliefs may be? He's dictating his beliefs on others.

    January 1, 2013 at 9:21 am |
  11. ally buster

    This uber-religious FILTH has for decades destroyed the health of the American citizenry with his disgusting unhealthy pizza and now he wants to force his farcical fairy-tale religion on us in an attempt to destroy our MINDS.

    January 1, 2013 at 9:20 am |
  12. Just_convince_them

    So instead of trying the expensive, painful and probably low success rate method of trying to convince the employees to not use the services because it is immoral you force your religious beliefs without exception on all your employees. Also, if this ruling stands I'm sure it can be argued that there are numerous expensive medical procedures which could now be found to profoundly impact some CEO's religious principles and he will no longer pay for them because of that impact.

    January 1, 2013 at 9:20 am |
    • froggyalley

      That's right! If God wants you to have an erection, He'll give you one! Otherwise, so sorry charlie!

      January 1, 2013 at 10:09 am |
  13. Ubu Pere

    I hope he doesn't mind paying the healthcare for all of the unwanted/unplanned children that may come as a result...

    January 1, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • ally buster

      Are you kidding? What- give up some of HIS fortune to support all the children that lack of contraceptives will cause?

      -In this day and age we are having a discussion about CONTRACEPTIVES? What is this, the 1950's?

      I will NEVER EVER eat Domino's pizza!!!!!!!!!!

      January 1, 2013 at 9:24 am |
  14. Douglas West

    Well, no more Dominoes for me. But then again, it has been crap pizza for years and I never get Dominoes, so my choice will not affect them.

    January 1, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • Charles

      You must not have tried it in a while. Still unhealthy but is good as any other and better than most..

      January 1, 2013 at 9:30 am |
  15. 3monkies

    and his pizza sucks also…

    January 1, 2013 at 9:14 am |
  16. Squirrelyone

    I really have not been able to understand the deal with requiring contraception, etc. Isn't the important issue ensuring that Americans can access the healthcare they need to survive? Doesn't Obama realize that by removing this particular clause, a lot of the opposition would evaporate? Religious groups that had been pushing desperately for healthcare reform–since they work closely with impoverished communities–feel obligated to oppose it when they should be the greatest allies. No one is stopping individuals who work for a company that might oppose contraception from purchasing additional insurance. Can't we get on board with primary care first and save the Viagra and other non-life-saving particulars for another day? Baby steps!!!

    January 1, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • Robert Brown

      Good idea

      January 1, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • Middle-aged mom

      I would offer this piece of information to you: contraception IS used to help save lives or ease symptoms of conditions. The hormones regulate cycles and bleeding and have been used to help women from bleeding out. Teens DO use birth control to actually help balance hormones if they haven't started their cycle and for various severe PMS symptoms which keep them from going to school. My wish for you is to actually look into the uses of contraception and abortion other than the purposes that you are stuck on. As a woman that cannot take oral or injected birth control because of a severe reaction, I would like to continue to have options available for me until I reach menopause and after that I would like to have options available for hormone replacement because that is what educated countries and governments SHOULD do for their citizens.

      January 1, 2013 at 10:12 am |
  17. dabble53

    Of course, any CEO/owner who is a Christian Scientist could argue all health care is against his/her religion, and therefore need not offer ANY health care.
    Businesses are NOT people (stupid SCOTUS not withstanding), and do not have religious freedoms.

    January 1, 2013 at 9:12 am |
  18. Pat

    Another Republican getting another Republican to go against the law of the land now Obamacare, maybe because he's ultrarich and doesn't really want to treat his employees with respect. Temporary means temporary and ultimately this phoney fool with have to obey the law.

    January 1, 2013 at 9:10 am |
  19. N&W 1000

    Why, spit, spit, sputter, spit, sputter, harrumph, ahem, spit, sputter, the nerve of this bum.

    January 1, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • Henry

      No more Dominos for me. Keep you religious beliefs to yourself!!

      January 1, 2013 at 9:14 am |
  20. Tim Wallace

    Thanks for calling Domino's how can I help you? "Yeah I will take a large pepperoni pizza, two birth control pills, and one side of Viagra." Will that be all Mr. President? "Yeah that should do!"

    January 1, 2013 at 9:07 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.