Sotomayor Denies Hobby Lobby Request On Obama HHS Mandate


Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor denied a request by Christian business Hobby Lobby to block part of the federal health care law that requires employee health-care plans to provide insurance coverage for the morning-after pill and similar emergency contraception pills.

Hobby Lobby took on the federal government back in September citing the mandate as a violation of the First Amendment.

Other companies have won against the Health and Human Services mandate, including Christian Publishing company Tyndale House. But so far, there has not been a victory for Hobby Lobby.

Ken Klukowski writes,

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is representing Hobby Lobby, wholly-owned by a devoutly religious family that objects to abortion. Hobby Lobby’s lawsuit lost in federal court in Oklahoma, and then the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver refused to block the mandate while the appeal is ongoing.

Becket’s loss thus far in this case is in contrast with the major victory Becket won last week in another federal appeals court, where (as we rightly predicted) the D.C. Circuit issued an injunction forbidding HHS from enforcing its regulation as currently written against Christian colleges. It’s also in contrast with early court victories in some of the other lawsuits by the Alliance Defending Freedom, among others.

Becket petitioned Justice Sotomayor to set aside the HHS Mandate while this case proceeds, and also for the Supreme Court to grant certiorari and take the case for an ultimate decision now. Sotomayor denied both requests. But this first denial of Supreme Court action does not at all suggest the justices will not eventually strike down the HHS Mandate.

Each of the thirteen federal appeals courts are overseen by one of the nine Supreme Court justices, and the application for an injunction was submitted to Sotomayor because she is the circuit justice over the Tenth Circuit.

But denying such a request for an injunction does not at all suggest the justices will ultimately rule in favor of the Obama administration. Preliminary injunctions—that is, orders issued before the matter has gone through the judicial process—are rare. Courts are supposed to be careful and deliberate.

Each of the thirteen federal appeals courts are overseen by one of the nine Supreme Court justices, and the application for an injunction was submitted to Sotomayor because she is the circuit justice over the Tenth Circuit.

According to Sotomayor’s ruling, “Applicants do not satisfy the demanding standard for the extraordinary relief they seek.” She went on to cite her reasoning, failing ultimately, in my opinion, to simply take into account the First Amendment.

First, whatever the ultimate merits of the applicants’ claims, their entitlementto relief is not “indisputably clear.” Lux v. Rodrigues, 561 U. S. ___, ___ (2010) (ROBERTS, C. J., in chambers) (slip op., at 2) (internal quotation marks omitted). This Court has not previously addressed similar RFRA or free exercise claims brought by closely held for-profit corporations and their controlling shareholders alleging that the mandatory provision of certain employee benefits substantiallyburdens their exercise of religion. Cf. United States v. Lee, 455 U. S. 252 (1982) (rejecting free exercise claim brought by individual Amish employer who argued that payingSocial Security taxes for his employees interfered with his exercise of religion). Moreover, the applicants correctlyrecognize that lower courts have diverged on whether togrant temporary injunctive relief to similarly situated plaintiffs raising similar claims, Application for InjunctionPending Appellate Review 25–26, and no court has issueda final decision granting permanent relief with respect tosuch claims. Second, while the applicants allege they will face irreparable harm if they are forced to choose betweencomplying with the contraception-coverage requirementand paying significant fines, they cannot show that aninjunction is necessary or appropriate to aid our jurisdiction. Even without an injunction pending appeal, the applicants may continue their challenge to the regulations in the lower courts. Following a final judgment, they may,if necessary, file a petition for a writ of certiorari in thisCourt.

For the foregoing reasons, the application for an injunction pending appellate review is denied.

Officials of Hobby Lobby say that they must make a decision on whether to violate their faith or face fines, excuse me, taxes of $1.3 million ber day beginning January 1, should they decide to ignore the law.

It should be a shame to our government to force people to make a decision between their conscience and following a stupid mandate such as this one, in which there is a clear violation of the First Amendment. This is also a reason why these “conservatives” in Congress need to be a bit more strenuous in their confirmation of Supreme Court Justices, instead of just “going along to get along.”

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