10th Circuit overturns denial of Hobby Lobby injunction

ReligiousFreedomWASHINGTON, DC – Today, the en banc 10th Circuit Court of Appeals granted a major victory to Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., by reversing and remanding the district court’s erroneous ruling.

“Today marks a milestone in Hobby Lobby’s fight for religious liberty,” said Kyle Duncan, General Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “This is a tremendous victory not only for the Green family and for their business, but also for many other religious business owners who should not have to forfeit their faith to make a living.”

Oklahoma Attorney General Pruitt said, “This is an incredible win for Hobby Lobby, Oklahoma and every state that joined in the fight to protect our religious freedom. The health care law’s mandate requiring religious groups to violate their lawful beliefs and practices directly goes against the ideals that our Founding Fathers set in place to protect Americans from an overbearing and intrusive government,” Attorney General Scott Pruitt said. “The Court agreed with Oklahoma’s argument that the religious freedoms of Hobby Lobby and the Green Family are protected by federal law, and that they should be granted an injunction to stop implementation of the contraception mandate.”

ReligiousLibertyThe 10th Circuit sent the case back to the district court for swift resolution of the injunction proceeding.  The court reasoned Hobby Lobby has, “established a likelihood of success that their rights under this statute are substantially burdened by the contraceptive-coverage requirement, and have established an irreparable harm. But we remand the case to the district court for further proceedings on two of the remaining factors governing the grant or denial of a preliminary injunction.”

Founded in an Oklahoma City garage in 1972, the Green family has grown Hobby Lobby from one 300-square-foot retail space into more than 500 stores in over 40 states. “It is by God’s grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured,” said David Green, founder and CEO. “Therefore we seek to honor God by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles.”

Hobby Lobby is the largest business to file a lawsuit against the HHS mandate. The Green family has no moral objection to the use of preventive contraceptives and will continue covering them in Hobby Lobby’s health plan. However, the Green family’s religious convictions prohibit them from providing or paying for the abortion-inducing drugs, the “morning-after” and “week-after” pills, which would violate their deeply held religious belief that life begins at conception.

The business’s lawsuit acts to preserve its right to carry out its mission free from government coercion.

HobbyLobbyStoreThere are now 60 separate lawsuits challenging the HHS mandate. The Becket Fund led the charge against the unconstitutional HHS mandate. The Becket Fund currently represents: Hobby Lobby, Wheaton College, East Texas Baptist University, Houston Baptist University, Colorado Christian University, the Eternal Word Television Network, Ave Maria University, and Belmont Abbey College.

Attorney General Pruitt filed a brief in support of Hobby Lobby in February. Hobby Lobby.  The state’s amicus brief asked the appeals court to reverse the district court’s earlier ruling in the case and defends the free exercise rights of the company’s owners.

HobbyLobbyBook“The actions of the (Federal Government) substantially burden the undisputed, sincere, and deeply held religious faith of these citizens of Oklahoma who are otherwise fully protected by the Constitution and laws of the State of Oklahoma, and forcibly require them to personally undertake actions that are contrary to the undisputed, sincere, and deeply held religious faith of these citizens,” the court filing states.

Oklahoma also is among seven states involved in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Nebraska that challenges the constitutionality of the federal government’s mandate, claiming the requirement would be an unprecedented invasion of First Amendment rights to free speech, free exercise of religion and free association.