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. Paul

    Why don't they just say employee's rights and minimum wage is against their religion?

    January 1, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • Jim

      Well, the bible does give explicit instructions about how to treat ones slaves, so obviously slavery is not only accepted, but condoned by god.

      January 1, 2013 at 10:44 am |
  2. allens

    i will no longer be a dominos customer. join me and speak the language of creeps like him and his religion, money

    January 1, 2013 at 10:38 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 4:29 pm |
    • Rational Humanist

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

      January 1, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
  3. acylate

    Denying Christians access to birth control is like removing all the apples from the Garden of Eden.

    January 1, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • Thank Bog for non-christians


      January 1, 2013 at 10:45 am |
  4. Concerned for your protestors. Your focus should be literacy. He might be willing to pay out for that!

    So many of you want to protest. Please go back and read the article again and look for 1998. That might help you in your protest. Wow, you have bigger things to worry about than boycotting "his" company.

    January 1, 2013 at 10:35 am |
  5. Eddie

    Happy New Year

    January 1, 2013 at 10:34 am |
  6. Why can't people read? They focus too much on wanting to be read to.

    So many of you want to protest. Please go back and read the article again and look for 1998. That might help you in your protest. Wow, you have bigger things to worry about than boycotting "his" company.

    January 1, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • Thank Bog for non-christians

      Good point... but there are still MANY reasons not to buy Domino's pizza.

      January 1, 2013 at 10:35 am |
  7. Robert Brown

    Here are some of the problems; some Christians and other believers in God, believe that abortion is premeditated murder and s.ex outside of marriage is adultery. Therefore, they are opposed to providing these things to others, because by doing so they are responsible and supportive of these sins. The abortion thing is even more complicated because they believe that if we allow it as a nation then we as a nation will be judged by God. The adultery thing is a little different. Some believers think birth control in any situation is sinful, others think it is ok for married couples. It seems to me that some of this opposition to Obamacare while veiled as religious objection could be more motivated by greed and politics than religious convictions, but it does give us something to argue about. Enjoy the debate, God bless you all, and Happy New Year.

    January 1, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • Jim

      I believe in slavery because it is accepted in the bible, therefore minimum wage does not apply to me or my business.

      There is no debate.....just religious foolishness which will not be tolerated .

      January 1, 2013 at 10:31 am |
    • Robert Brown


      You don’t have to like it Jim, but you do have it to tolerate. You know that little right of “free exercise thereof.” Peace.

      January 1, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • Thank Bog for non-christians

      Do you really think this is about abortion and adultery? You may want to check the definitions of both words.

      January 1, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • Robert Brown

      Thank Bog for non-christians,

      Abortion, adultery, greed, politics, what did I miss?

      January 1, 2013 at 10:44 am |
  8. Jonathan

    The problem is that religious people think that the separation of church and state means that the state can not dictate law to the religious, when the exact opposite is the truth; it means that the religious can not use their random and greatly differing beliefs to dictate policy and law to everyone else.

    January 1, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • Freyr

      Hey kiddo, it goes both ways.

      January 1, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • Jim

      Fryr, it doesn't go both ways at all. You have the right to believe whatever you want....that is the right you are given in this country. You are allowed to live your life according to your beliefs, as long as it does not impede on anyone else's rights, and the State has the right to govern your actions, regardless of what belief they are based on, if you are doing so. You can't refuse to hire all women based on the belief that women are the source of original sin, can you?

      January 1, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • Tom

      The separation of church and state is that the goverment can not favor one religion over an other. if you read exactly how it is worded that is what it says, over the years the courts have expanded that to also mean other things but as written it only states that the goverment can not favor one over the other.

      January 1, 2013 at 11:17 am |
  9. Puddin

    Me thinks this guy is just trying to outsmart the Healthcare Act, and others will do the same.

    January 1, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • Jim

      Exactly; just become a Christian Scientist and you won't have to provide any insurance at all to your employees!

      January 1, 2013 at 10:27 am |
  10. You can't be a Christian and a billionaire at the same time!!!

    I hate religion!!! Ironically, it's the root of all evil!!! How can you be a "good Christian", and a billionaire!?!? If you are such a good Christian, wouldn't a billion + dollars save a lot of starving people??

    January 1, 2013 at 10:19 am |
    • Mo

      you have a point. a rich man once approached jesus and asked how he could be a follower of jesus. jesus told him to give away all of his wealth. thus all these rich christians, if they truly are as devoted as they claim, should give away all of their wealth. as a matter of fact, given that he is a billionaire, he should give away everything in excess of $20 million.

      January 1, 2013 at 10:45 am |
  11. Tyrone ,Schenectady

    Logan, are there not cats to chase in your alleyway? It's clear you. Are a broke man portraying yourself as a staunch conservative. One thing missing is the money and intelligence. It is clear from you lack of articulation in any statement you made that you are a white male 38-50 work at a poor paying manufacturing job.ife sucks but take your own advice get training and open up a business. Until the go learn to write something that matters.

    January 1, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • Thank Bog for non-christians

      Um, Tyrone... you might learn to write something that's comnprehensible.
      BTW, is your last name "Shoelaces"? (Sorry, couldn't resist)

      January 1, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • Tom

      You my friend are the one that needs to visit a school that teaches not good but correct English

      January 1, 2013 at 11:22 am |
  12. GBDJMU81

    The article fails to mention he sold his controlling share of Domino's Pizza to Bain Capital.

    January 1, 2013 at 10:17 am |
  13. Charlotte

    This whackjob funds Randall Terry's operation and should get NO court victories of any manner. He sponsors domestic terrorism.

    January 1, 2013 at 10:09 am |
  14. Pizza

    What an abag!

    January 1, 2013 at 10:09 am |
  15. PaulB

    They just got my business. From now on, I will be buying my pizza at Domino's. Bye, Papa John's.

    January 1, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • Charlotte

      one a hole buying from another (instead of theother). Well what it proves more than anything is you have sh1tty taste in pizza.

      January 1, 2013 at 10:10 am |
    • Pizza

      Enjoy your gross Christian pizza. It's nasty. And the people who work for that idiot happen to be the ones that need birth control. Way to be a real winner.

      January 1, 2013 at 10:11 am |
    • SilliyKat

      Wha?? So, you're gonna adopt the rabid sibling of this rabid schmuck? Dear Lord please save us from really, really feeble minded people. (Unless you were joking with this comment – one can have hope – then no more pies from either of these mothers and kudos!)

      January 1, 2013 at 10:21 am |
  16. Common Sense

    So by extension, does this mean that business owners of various religions can foist their beliefs on employees? Do potential employees have the right to know the religious beliefs of the company owners?

    January 1, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • Uncommon Sense

      I think I would opt for the old timey Mormon religion. Would be nice having three wives fighting with each other rather than one fighting with me.

      January 1, 2013 at 10:41 am |
  17. CBC

    "Causing death can never be considered a form of medical treatment," said Monaghan in court papers.
    The eradication of cancer cells with radiation? The elimination of harmful bacteria through antibiotics? The purging of parasites with pharmaceuticals? The choice to save one conjoined twin in preference of the other through organ allocation during separation? Emergency abortive procedures to save the life of a mother whose life is threatened by her pregnancy?

    Saving life with medical procedures usually requires the death of something. I'm not a fan of abortion, I don't think anyone is... but the way to combat something you abhor is not with ignorance or an unwillingness to use common sense.

    Don't like abortions; support birth control and fund research towards better medical solutions for mother's lives threatened by troubled pregnancies.

    January 1, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • Thank Bog for non-christians

      Nicely said.

      January 1, 2013 at 10:42 am |
  18. maximumrider

    the bible also says you should pay people a fare wage to live off of. does domino's ceo do that? i think not. i have not purchased a dominoes pizza in years and will continue not to. i do not like the idea of fake christians trying to force their fake christianity on me or anybody else.

    January 1, 2013 at 9:57 am |
    • Tyrone ,Schenectady

      You got that 100% correct on the wage issue, and to go one step further they want to use third world wages as a comparison as to what an American should make. Then go on a rant of how Exceptional Aemricans are! I can't tell by the way they pay.

      January 1, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • PaulB

      Fake Christianity? Enjoy your eternity in hell.

      January 1, 2013 at 10:10 am |
    • rick

      paulb: you know that threatening people with what they they don't believe in is only so effective, don't you?

      January 1, 2013 at 10:17 am |
  19. a happy heratic

    Its a sad day in hell.

    January 1, 2013 at 9:56 am |
    • Thank Bog for non-christians

      Isn't EVERY day a sad day in hell?

      January 1, 2013 at 10:44 am |
  20. Hen na gaijin

    Anyone who spends millions to prevent his employees from receiving any kind of health care says a lot. Folks like
    him is why 50 million Americans have no care. And have you tried the crap he calls a pizza lately ?

    January 1, 2013 at 9:56 am |
    • Charlotte

      You're right on all scores. And the pizza is terrible. But so is Pap John's and Pizza Hut's. Yeccchhh. All that crap they put on it and in it, it's a gut bomb with no flavor, just a bunch of sub-par excessively greasy "cheese" and nothing worth eating. But these biblethumpy white trash that like to foist their religious views on everyone also like to eat turdiness.

      January 1, 2013 at 10:13 am |
    • PaulB

      No one owes anyone anything. You work for everything you get. If you don't like the fact you're not covered by insurance, go find another employer who does cover you with insurance. Funny how the little man always feels he/she is owed. Whether it be by the employer or by the government. All we seem to want is a free handout. Because I don't make millions like the man who does, let's stick it to him/her with increased taxes. What a crazy society and mentality. This country is going to crap by jealousy for those who have and the lack of God and morals in our lives. God must be fuming mad and His wrath getting ready to manifest itself.

      January 1, 2013 at 10:16 am |
    • JWT

      God's wrath manifesting itself will be like a unicorn jockeyed by a leprechaun butting into a concrete wall.

      January 1, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • Cedar rapids

      'This country is going to crap by jealousy for those who have and the lack of God and morals in our lives. God must be fuming mad and His wrath getting ready to manifest itself.'

      yeah that must be right, god is angry at those people that have an issue with billionaires because apparently that shows a lack of morals.
      get a life.

      January 1, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • sam stone

      paulb: our morals are declining? compared to when we could own other people? when lynchings were common? when women could not vote? tell us all of this moral utopia that gives you a stiffy

      January 1, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • sam stone

      while we are at it, PaulB, your god is an impotent little pr1ck, and so are you. so, fvck you, fvck your vindictive punk god

      January 1, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
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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.