Appeals court rules against Hobby Lobby in contraception coverage case

A Denver-based federal appeals court denied the retail chain's bid to overturn a lower court's ruling on a part of the federal health care law regarding insurance coverage for contraception.
by Paul Monies Modified: December 20, 2012 at 10:23 pm •  Published: December 20, 2012
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Hobby Lobby covered the challenged contraceptive devices and pills in prior health plans. The company said that was an oversight, and coverage for them was removed in later insurance plans.

Hobby Lobby and Mardel said their health insurance would continue to cover other types of contraception.

In its ruling, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court's ruling that Hobby Lobby and Mardel were private corporations legally separate from the firms' owners. The appeals court said it was unlikely to expand a federal law that guarantees religious freedom.

“We do not think there is a substantial likelihood that this court will extend the reach of RFRA (the Religious Freedom Restoration Act) to encompass the independent conduct of third parties with whom the plaintiffs have only a commercial relationship,” the court said in its ruling.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton approved a request by attorneys for the government and Hobby Lobby to put the case on hold pending the appeal of the temporary injunction to the 10th Circuit.

The Becket Fund said there are now 42 lawsuits nationwide challenging the federal health insurance coverage mandate on religious grounds. The health care law allows exemptions for religious employers.

by Paul Monies
Energy Reporter
Paul Monies is an energy reporter for The Oklahoman. He has worked at newspapers in Texas and Missouri and most recently was a data journalist for USA Today in the Washington D.C. area. Monies also spent nine years as a business reporter and...
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We do not think there is a substantial likelihood that this court will extend the reach of RFRA (the Religious Freedom Restoration Act) to encompass the independent conduct of third parties with whom the plaintiffs have only a commercial relationship.”

10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling,

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