A federal judge ruled Monday night that the Hobby Lobby craft store chain must offer its 13,000 employees contraceptive coverage without a co-pay, as mandated by Obamacare.
Hobby Lobby sued to deny such coverage in September, citing conservative evangelical owner David Green’s personal religious objections to certain types of birth control that fall under Obamacare’s contraception mandate. In particular, the company sought to deny its employees coverage for the morning after pill, commonly known as Plan B.
But on Monday night, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton denied the request in a 28-page ruling, pointing out that religious institutions have already been given exemptions from covering contraception, and that Hobby Lobby does not qualify since it is a private business:
“However, Hobby Lobby and Mardel [its partner company] are not religious organizations,” the ruling states. “Plaintiffs have not cited, and the court has not found, any case concluding that secular, for-profit corporations such as Hobby Lobby and Mardel have a constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.”
Hobby Lobby’s attorney said the companies’ owners, the Green family, plan to appeal.
“Every American, including family business owners like the Greens, should be free to live and do business according to their religious beliefs,” Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said in a statement.
Just last week, a different federal judge issued an injunction over the contraception mandate in Obamacare, siding with religious employers of a private company. But Judge Heaton’s assessment of the law is correct: While non-profit religious institutions are already exemptfrom the mandate, private businesses do not have the same exemption.