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."

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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. soul68

    I wish I ate Dominos crappy pizza so I could boycott it. But i don't. I used to eat Papa Johns but they are now on my permanent black list.

    December 31, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • cielo62

      I'm with you, soul68! These self righteous white rich MEN don't give a damn about women's health! So long Dominos and Papa Johns (which is also a crappy pizza).

      December 31, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • Papa John

      Whatza wrong..don't like Peyton Manning?

      December 31, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
  2. ankus

    DoMiNoS sux

    December 31, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
  3. Juanito


    If you can, please call your mother tonight and while wishing her a Happy New Year, thank her for making the right 'choice'.

    I pray the Lord bless you all(yes, even those I disagree with!) with His Love, good health and abundance in 2013!

    December 31, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • Papa John

      Adam Lanza's mother is dead and beyond a call

      December 31, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
  4. Tiffany H

    How so Joe H? I merely meant what I said. If DB has what he needs, how does that take away from him if we don't agree with corporations desire to garner profit on the backs of those less fortunate than ourselves? Who loses? I certainly don't. I am not wealthy, by any stretch of the imagination, but I am so tired of corporations using the law to penalize others.

    December 31, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  5. tina

    I don't know how Domonos or Papa Johns stay open, that is the worst pizza you could eat. I tryed them once never again. NO WOMAN SHOULD EVER BUY FROM THEM AGAIN.

    December 31, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • Papa John

      Hey, Hey HEY!

      December 31, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
  6. Charles

    Another religious zealot who will never get my business.

    December 31, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
  7. sally

    Next thing you know the Catholics will be having us pay for counseling for kids abused by priests. This guy's as bad as the Rummy pirate!

    December 31, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
  8. Joanne Durham

    There wont be anymore Dominos in this home. An employers religious beliefs have no place in my healthcare choices.

    December 31, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • California Grandma

      I agree.

      December 31, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • cg

      I agree.

      December 31, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • 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 8:54 pm |
  9. wallstreetcrime

    Breaking news- Monaghan believes antibiotics are the work of Satan. He will ask that his corporation is allowed to deny coverage for antibiotics to his employees.

    In other news, Monaghan is a dirt bag.

    December 31, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
  10. wallstreetcrime

    Monaghan is nothing more than a religious bully. His religion is being shoved down the throats of his employees and NOT the other way round.

    Why birth control offends people is beyond me. We're not in the 1800s any longer. I never buy Dominos but now I won't eat any even if offered.

    December 31, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • You didn't read the story did you?

      I appreciate your passion, but there's at least two problems with your reasoning:

      1) Nothing Mr. Monaghan is doing by anyway is preventing someone from getting contraceptives; anyone who so desires can purchase her own contraceptives directly or through a personal policy.
      2) If you read the story, you could note that he no longer has a controlling interest in Domino's Pizza; your call for a boycott is somewhat misguided.

      December 31, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • John

      How is his religion being shoved down his employees throats? He is not denying access, he is just saying he should have to pay. If you want to get a breast job, it's not covered, it doesn't prevent you from having it done. I find it ironic that people don't want companies involved in their decisions but yet they welcome the government with open arms.

      December 31, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
  11. Papa John

    How do you make a billion pushing that crap?

    December 31, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • sally


      December 31, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
  12. KiND KeN

    What would they say to a Rastafarian who failed a drug test? Would they fight to uphold their religious beliefs, or fire them anyway?

    December 31, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • SokrMom

      The Rastafarian wouldn't have hundreds of millions of dollars (at least) to pursue frivolous litigation like this.

      December 31, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
  13. Colt

    What if you're in one of those crazy religions where you don't believe in medical care because you can pray illness away? Then can you forgo obamacare?

    December 31, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • left hook

      We already have them...They are called the "lett'em die on the gurney" evangelical republicans...

      December 31, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  14. J1221

    Personally, I find that people like this trample on my religious rights by trying to impose THEIR religion on me.

    December 31, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • left hook

      That's the primary purpose of ALL religions...Accept it like a dolt or we're gonna cram it up your rethuglieconhole...

      December 31, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • Can you expand please?

      Could you please expand? How exactly is he attempting to force his religion on you?

      December 31, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
  15. fred

    Way to go Tom!! Glad to see that Catholics can get their fair shake in court. usually it's just fringe religions that get respect from the courts.

    December 31, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  16. Lee Anne

    No contraception coverage than NO COVERAGE FOR VIAGRA or other impotence meds. If they say it's God's law than IF IT DOESN'T WORK GOD DOESN'T WANT YOU TO USE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 31, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • fred

      Here's the issue that you clearly don't get: Erectile dysfunction is a medical condition. Birth control is a choice. Viagra is therefore a treatment for a medical condition. Birth control is a lifestyle choice. I'm not saying I agree with that distinction, but it is a fact.

      December 31, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • midwest rail

      fred – could you possibly be more disingenuous ?

      December 31, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • phfyrebyrd

      Hi Fred,
      Isn't pregnancy also a medical condition? A$$hat.

      December 31, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • California Grandma

      Ha ha ha! But the guys would never go for it. They think they have a RIGHT to use their penis when ever they want, but we have to ASK to avoid the consequences of said use. Really. What a crock.

      December 31, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Jen

      Fred, the pill is often used to treat conditions such as endometriosis. Viagra, on the other hand, has adverse health effects (and no one NEEDS to have s-x). You are a typical chauvinist.

      December 31, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • mike proctor

      Fred your comment make no sense because women used the birth control pills for other medical problems they may suffer. Also where in the hell men get this stupid idea that they have the medical knowledge to tell women what's good for them and what's not.

      December 31, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • John

      Pregnancy is a medical condition and the cost of child birth is covered. Much like the condition of erectile disfunction. Like anything, there can be abuse. You can always provide a point counter point on everythings (condoms help to prevent the spread of aids, lets cover them also). We have to use reason. The purpose of the health care act was to provide health care coverage to more. When you cloud the water with packing in more legistation, there will be issues. This is just one.

      December 31, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
  17. Jason D

    As an anti capitalist does this mean i can force the government to not give money to capitalist corporations or as a person of religion i can then sue these companies for not protecting my religious beliefs..as they say they should be allowed to protect theirs...then mine must count to...or are they saying that one owners religion matters more then hundreds or thousands of employee?

    December 31, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
  18. dave


    December 31, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
  19. Dumbpolitics

    If your a woman it's time to stop buying from Domino's and Papa John's. The loss of the almighty $ will put them in their right mind.

    December 31, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • Russells Teapot

      You're right. This ruling is completely ridiculous. By this standard, were a Muslim to acquire a large company they could adopt sharia as part of their policy and to say otherwise is to violate their religious rights? Or how about a Jehovah Witness or faith healer? Would they be allowed to incorporate their beliefs into their health plans? Where does it all end? People need to send the message that this is not right, and while it perfectly fine for an individual to practice THEIR beliefs it is unacceptable for them to expect others to adhere to their belief system

      December 31, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • Dippy

      Dumbo, it's "you're," not "your."

      December 31, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • California Grandma

      If you're a woman, it's time to stop voting Republican. That would put an end to some of this foolishness right away.
      Just saying. Use your power to benefit yourself, not doughy old white men who could care less if you have health care or not.

      December 31, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • Athy

      Could care less or couldn't care less? You seem confused.

      December 31, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
  20. Juanito

    Rational Humanist,

    Your undies are in a bunch.

    I never said that our political system was immune to bribery(all parties are guilty of it).

    You're just angry because his money didn't go to your cause.

    I hardly suspect that you would raise one octave should the limosuine liberals of the entertainment industry raised a billion to politicians who supported Planned Parenthood.

    As for HUMAN RIGHTS, I gave my human rights trump card in my original post.


    Or does your fight for HUMAN RIGHTS stay within our borders? American first, then Human Being?

    And no, I won't urinate off, on or in until I truly feel the need...

    December 31, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • Rational Humanist

      No, Juanito, I am angry because he represents no one but himself and uses money to bribe his way to more wealth and imposing his religion on people who do not share it, among other things.
      Nobody voted this guy into any office. He does not represent you or me.
      By bribing legislators, he is violating everyone else's civil rights and his goals are also to violate the civil rights of others.

      If someone wants to work within the system and try to convince people that legislation should be enacted, that is called democracy.
      What this guy has done isn't democracy, it's plutocracy. You think wealth means anything about what is right or wrong?
      You are an idiot if that's how you look at it. Wealth is nothing. If you think bribery is okay, then you are a POS.

      December 31, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
    • John

      Rational Humanist, you are responding irrationally. What you described is exactly how our government works so you should be angry with the system not the man. If you don't like what he stand for, then don't buy his products and don't work for him. That is the great thing about freedom of choice.

      December 31, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • Rational Humanist

      John, since I did not respond irrationally, I would guess that you are trying to slander me. Fuck off.

      Our government does not "work" through bribery. Bribery is illegal and is not a democratic principle anyway.

      Our legislators are supposed to represent the PEOPLE, not some bullshit bunch of thieves with bribes to hand out.
      We have domestic enemies in this country. They have already destroyed our civil rights to the lowest level I have ever seen.
      Just because they are getting away with their crimes does not mean that we should let them. Grow some balls.

      January 1, 2013 at 12:45 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.