Hobby Lobby executives announced last week they found a temporary reprieve from the fines the company faces for defying the government’s mandate to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs.
Despite the Dec. 26 decision by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who ruled the popular arts and crafts retail chain must comply with the requirement or face financial penalties starting Jan. 1, Hobby Lobby will have a few more months to fight for its rights, fine-free.
According to a statement released by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the legal group representing Hobby Lobby in its fight for religious freedom, the retail store discovered a way to shift the plan year for its employee health insurance, delaying the mandate’s effective date for several months.
“Hobby Lobby will continue to vigorously defend its religious liberty and oppose the mandate and any penalties,” said Peter M. Dobelbower, general counsel for Hobby Lobby.
The craft chain, owned by an evangelical family, sued the federal government over the mandate on Sept. 19, demanding relief from providing the “morning after” and “week after” pill to its employees.
Sotomayor’s decision only denied the company an emergency exception from the mandate. It did not affect the company’s legal challenge, which is working its way through the lower courts. According to the Becket Fund, 110 individuals, companies, colleges and social service organizations have filed suit against the mandate. The government is defending the rule in 43 cases across the country.
“It is by God’s grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured,” said David Green, Hobby Lobby CEO and founder, after filing the lawsuit.“Therefore we seek to honor God by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles. The conflict for me is that our family is being forced to choose between following the laws of the country that we love or maintaining the religious beliefs that have made our business successful and have supported our family and thousands of our employees and their families.”
Established in an Oklahoma City garage in 1972, the Greens have grown Hobby Lobby from one 300-square-foot retail space into more than 500 stores in 41 states.