Attorneys for Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. and the federal government have asked a district judge to halt proceedings in their case over a section of the federal health care law dealing with contraception coverage while judges in Denver weigh an appeal.
In the joint petition filed Monday, the parties asked U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton to issue a stay. Attorneys for Hobby Lobby appealed Heaton's Nov. 19 decision, to deny a preliminary injunction on enforcement of the law, to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
The Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby and Mardel Inc. retail stores, filed a lawsuit in September challenging certain insurance coverage provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, claiming emergency contraception pills and certain intrauterine devices covered by the law could cause abortions.
The Washington-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty assisted in the case. The Greens said the health care law violates their religious freedom by forcing them to provide coverage for some types of contraception.
Under the law, Hobby Lobby and Mardel could be fined up to $1.3 million per day starting Jan. 1 if they don't provide coverage for the morning-after pill, week-after pill and some intrauterine devices.
Hobby Lobby and Mardel said their health insurance would continue to provide other types of contraception. The companies have more than 13,000 employees.
Hobby Lobby covered the challenged contraceptive devices and pills in prior health plans. The company said that was by mistake and the coverage later was removed.