Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. has won a last-minute, albeit temporary, reprieve from millions of dollars in fines the company was to face beginning Monday while its lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act proceeds.
U.S. District Court Judge Joe Heaton issued a restraining order Friday afternoon to stop the federal government from enforcing the law before the company's case can be heard again by the court.
Heaton's order comes one day after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a 168-page opinion recognizing Hobby Lobby's right to sue over its owners' religious objections portions of the health care law.
A hearing is scheduled for July 19 on Hobby Lobby's request for an injunction against the fines while its court case is ongoing.
The judge has ordered Hobby Lobby's attorneys and the federal government to try to reach a compromise on the injunction before the hearing.
Beginning in July, Hobby Lobby was to be subject fines of up to $1.3 million for each day it fails to comply with a mandate in the Affordable Care Act that requires the company to cover the cost of emergency contraceptives.
The company has said it would rather face the fines than cover the drugs, because its owners believe some types of emergency contraceptives, including the morning-after pill are forms of abortion.
“Hobby Lobby and the Green family faced the terrible choice of violating their faith or paying massive fines starting this Monday morning,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing Hobby Lobby. “We are delighted that both the 10th Circuit and the district court have spared them from this unjust burden on their religious freedom.”