Same Judge Who Turned Hobby Lobby Down, Now Grants Them a Stay on HHS Mandate

 

Hobby lobby zps8425ff5aI’ve read the news reports on several outlets, and I’m not exactly sure what the judge did, except that it’s clear that he stopped the government from dropping the guillotine on Hobby Lobby next month.

The draconian HHS Mandate, which is scheduled to go into effect in August, would probably, in the judge’s own words, “cut the legs from under” any “individual or corporation” who is so bold as to say “no” to it. Judge Joe Heaton ruled that Hobby Lobby is exempt from compliance with the HHS Mandate, at least until higher courts rule in the matter. He also put the case on hold until October 1 to give the Obama administration time to respond. 

What does this mean?

Well, it means that the government can’t start putting Hobby Lobby out of business because it won’t pay for abortifacients for its employees, at least not next month. 

It also gives the Obama administration a bloody nose. The administration originally contended that First Amendment protections of the free exercise of religion only applied to churches. Then, when it began losing in court, the administration widened that out to include direct affiliates of churches. The administration has not budged in its position that the First Amendment protection of the free exercise of religion does not apply to you, me or any other individual. 

I think this latest ruling puts other judges on the hot seat. Are they going to allow corporations and individuals to go down the tubes next month, or are they going to step up and grant similar stays for everyone?

One interesting fact: Judge Joe Heaton is the same judge who denied a somewhat similar request by Hobby Lobby in November 2012. His reasoning then read like Obama administration boilerplate. 

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What has happened to change his mind? 

It may be that the reasoning of other justices who did not agree with him made him re-think the issue. It may also be that he finally wised up to the fact that the HHS Mandate is a challenge to the Constitution itself. It may also be that he came to understand what I saw when I first read about the nascent HHS Mandate months before it was promulgated: This thing has the makings of a Constitutional crisis of a magnitude not seen in this country since the Civil War. 

There has been a huge overstepping of individual liberties in the culture wars lately. Whether the issue is abortion or gay marriage, those who promote these positions are not satisfied with laws that allow them to do what they want. They are pushing hard for laws that force other people to participate in doing it with them. 

The HHS Mandate, by directly targeting the Church itself, along with its many ministries, stepped up the fight and made it something that was impossible to ignore. The days of going along to get along ended for believers in religious liberty and freedom of conscience when President Obama signed that thing. 

It’s possible Judge Heaton got his wits together and realized the magnitude of what he was dealing with. It’s also possible that Hobby Lobby’s lawyers wrote a better brief this time around. 

I don’t know. 

I do know that this ruling today is a good and hopeful one for all of us who hold our Constitutional liberties dear. 

It’s Easter … and the Fight for Religious Freedom Continues

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I focused on Holy Week issues last week.

I would love to continue doing the same thing this first week of Easter. In fact, it might be nice to never do anything else. But the world and our duty to engage the world for Christ goes on.

Challenges to the HHS Mandate continue to wend their way through the judicial process. 

Hobby Lobby was granted a hearing of its appeal against the HHS Mandate before a full federal panel of nine judges. Most appeals are heard by three judges. The fact that the whole panel will hear this one reflects the seriousness of the issue involved. I can think of few issues more serious than whether or not the First Amendment applies to applies to everyone.

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We need to continue to support both EWTN and Hobby Lobby, as well as all others who have stepped up to fight for our freedoms.  I got paid today. I’ll be too busy to do any shopping for a few days, but the first chance I get, I’m heading to Hobby Lobby. I may top it off with lunch at Chick Fil-A. I hope you do the same.

From CNA:

.- Christian-owned craft giant Hobby Lobby will be able to make its appeal against the federal contraception mandate before a full federal panel of nine judges, rather than the usual three.

“Full court review is reserved only for the most serious legal questions,” explained Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty in a press release on March 29. The Becket Fund is representing the owners of Hobby Lobby in court.

Duncan said that the decision to grant a full nine-judge hearing speaks to the gravity of the issue.

“This case asks whether the First Amendment protects everyone’s right to religious freedom, or whether it leaves out religious business owners like the Greens,” he explained.

As its religious freedom case comes before a federal court, Hobby Lobby had petitioned for an “en banc” hearing, or an appeals hearing before the full bench of nine judges.

“We are grateful that the court granted Hobby Lobby’s petition,” said Duncan. (Read more here.)

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Meanwhile, EWTN’s lawsuit against the HHS Mandate was dismissed by an Alabama court because the court said the case “wasn’t ripe.” I would make a comment about the choice of the word “ripe,” but it’s too easy. EWTN has vowed to fight on.

If you’re getting the idea that going to court is a roll of the dice, you’re right. It all depends on which judge you draw and if their lunch agreed with them.

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From CNA:

.- The EWTN Global Catholic Network is “extremely disappointed” by a Monday court ruling that dismissed as “unripe” its lawsuit against a federal mandate that could require the organization to violate Catholic teaching.

“Contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs are not healthcare. EWTN cannot and will not compromise our strongly held beliefs on these moral issues,” EWTN President and CEO Michael P. Warsaw said March 25.

On Monday Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn of the U.S. District Court in Birmingham dismissed the Irondale, Ala.-based organization’s lawsuit until new regulations are “created and finalized.” The March 25 court decision agreed that EWTN has standing to sue, but it sided with Obama administration lawyers who contended that the case is not ripe for review. (Read more here.) 

 

Have You Shopped at Hobby Lobby This Month?

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Source: Baptist Press

I headed to Hobby Lobby as soon as I deposited my paycheck last week. 

I don’t buy big, but I try to buy something every month. It’s the least I can do to support them in their fight for my freedom and yours. 

Hobby Lobby is still embroiled in a bitter court battle with the Obama administration over the HHS Mandate. Owner David Green has said that the company will pay the huge fines the government plans to assess rather than pay for health insurance coverage for abortifacients. Hobby Lobby already pays for birth control coverage for employees who receive health insurance, so that is not the issue.

The real question is whether or not the government can confine First Amendment freedoms to religious institutions, or if those freedoms belong to every American. 

In my opinion, the government position in this is a legalized version of what I was once told about my job as a legislator: You can go to church all you want, but leave it there. The HHS Mandate is an attempt to enforce that outrageous demand by law and to punish those who refuse to adhere to it with crippling fines and penalties.

If this position is allowed to stand, I do not think it will be all that long before similar penalties are imposed on individual people like you and me, and not just Christian businesses.

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The thrust of militant secularism is to push people of faith and religious ideas out of the public sphere and into an intellectual and social ghetto. This ghettoizing of people of faith, particularly Christians, is moving along at a fast pace in our Western society. The idea that the government would do something as egregious as the HHS Mandate was something everyone thought was a ridiculous impossibility just a few years ago.

Now, we have most of the press and large swaths of the population, including “progressive” Christian Churches, supporting what amounts to an outright government attack on religious freedom. What was unthinkable a few years ago has come to pass.

It is being pushed on us with lies, distortions and obfuscations from genuine true-believer militant secularists, and those kool-aid drinking Christians who have deluded themselves into thinking that the time when this same sword will be used on them will never come. These sad folks are joining with those who attack their own house and are trying to draw the rest of us into that delusion along with them.

I thank God for people like the owner of Hobby Lobby who are willing to stand for Christ, no matter what the cost.

The Baptist Press recently published an interview with members of the Green family. It says in part:

OKLAHOMA CITY (BP) — Hobby Lobby has been pushed to the front lines of a monumental battle over religious liberty just when the arts and crafts chain is aiming to open a Bible museum near the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

“God’s up to something,” Steve Green, Hobby Lobby’s president, often says.

“We’re just along for the ride.”

Hobby Lobby’s founder — Green’s father, David — has publicly stated the company will not obey a federal mandate to provide employee health insurance that covers abortion-causing drugs. The 530-store chain could face government fines amounting to $1.3 million a day if the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services forces its will on Hobby Lobby and numerous other privately owned businesses lead by Christians who regard abortion as the taking of innocent life.

Steve Green, meanwhile, is leading Hobby Lobby’s plan to open a museum showcasing many of the 40,000 Bible artifacts in The Green Collection secured by the family’s company over the past three years. The museum and accompanying research center will be housed in 400,000-500,000 square feet renovated from two office buildings two blocks from the Air and Space Museum and a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol. The yet-unnamed museum could open as early as the fall of 2016.

Green spoke about the court battle and the museum to editors who visited Hobby Lobby’s headquarters, its sprawling manufacturing plant and four distribution centers on the outskirts of Oklahoma City during the Association of State Baptist Publications’ Feb. 11-14 annual meeting.

Asked if the HHS mandate, if ultimately enforced by the courts, could cost Hobby Lobby its solvency and its vision for a Bible museum, Green said, “I don’t have the answer to that. All I know is that we’re in good hands. I anticipate that it’s going to be a long battle.

“And what and where God directs this, I don’t know.”

Hobby Lobby, in its suit against the HHS mandate, remains in federal appeals court among dozens of companies objecting to the abortion insurance requirement.

“We haven’t gotten to the merits of the case,” Green said of the Hobby Lobby suit. “This is just asking for the injunction. …

“Even if we get a no” on the merits of the case — if two appeals courts issue “two different rulings — and there have been on the injunction — then it’s more likely that the Supreme Court would make a ruling on it. That’s probably, at earliest, a couple of years down the road,” Green said.

Asked how Hobby Lobby’s supporters can pray for the company, Green requested prayer “for the wisdom to say the right things and not say what we shouldn’t be saying. I think that we’re pretty clear. We know what our answer is.

“Pray for our government leaders,” Green added, “and the judges who are going to make the decisions, that exactly what God wants, happens.” (Read the rest here.) 

Hobby Lobby Braces for Millions in Fines

Hobby Lobby braces for millions in mandate fines
By Michelle Bauman Washington D.C., Jan 2, 2013(CNA/EWTN News).-
Arts and crafts retailer Hobby Lobby says it is willing to pay fines of $1.3 million per day to follow its owners’ religious beliefs, which conflict with the federal mandate that requires coverage of abortion-inducing drugs.

“The company will continue to provide health insurance to all qualified employees,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing Hobby Lobby in the case.

“To remain true to their faith, it is not their intention, as a company, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs,” he explained.

Hobby Lobby’s founder and CEO, David Green, has said that his family – which has owned the company since its 1972 founding – will continue seeking to serve God through their business decisions.

In addition to making significant charitable donations, the company closes all of its stores on Sundays so that its employees can have time to worship and rest with their families.

However, the Greens’ ability to run their company in accordance with their religious beliefs is being threatened by the contraception mandate, which was finalized by the Department of Health and Human Services in Jan. 2012. (Read more here.)


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