(CN) – Family-owned Hobby Lobby Stores sued the Obama administration, refusing to provide health insurance coverage for “abortion-causing drugs and devices,” including the morning-after pill, for its 13,000 employees.
The Oklahoma City-based crafts retailer, Christian-themed retailer Mardel and five members of the Green family, founders of the companies, sued the government in Oklahoma City Federal Court.
They claim the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act forces religiously motivated business owners, such as themselves, to violate their faith under threat of millions of dollars in fines.
“The Green family believes they are obligated to run their businesses in accordance with their faith,” the complaint states. “Commitment to Jesus Christ and to Biblical principals is what gives their business endeavors meaning and purpose.”
The family claims that the health-care mandate “runs roughshod” over their beliefs.
“The mandate illegally and unconstitutionally coerces the Green family to violate their deeply held religious beliefs under threat of heavy fines, penalties and lawsuits,” the complaint states.
“The mandate also forces the Green family to facilitate government-dictated speech incompatible with their own speech and religious beliefs. Having to pay fines for the privilege of practicing one’s own religion or controlling one’s speech is alien to our American traditions of individual liberty, religious tolerance and limited government. It is also illegal and unconstitutional.”
The Greens claim that the mandate does not apply equally to everyone, that the federal government is not requiring every insurance plan to cover abortion-related services, and that many groups and people are exempted “for reasons of commercial convenience.”
Millions of employers may escape the mandate because of the age of their plans or because of the number of people they employ,” the complaint states. “Certain non-profit religious organizations have been exempted from the mandate all together, and others have been given extra time to comply with it.”
The Greens say the government refuses to give families like theirs any accommodation at all. They say the mandate can be interpreted as a “deliberate attack on the religious beliefs of the Greens” and others because the federal government allows exemptions only for reasons other than religion.
Privately owned Hobby Lobby operates more than 500 stores in 40 states and has more than 13,000 full-time employees, according to the complaint. Mardel operates 35 stores in seven states and has 372 full-time employees.
The plaintiffs seek an injunction and declaratory relief for violations of First and Fifth Amendments, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.
They are represented by Charles Geister with Hartzog Conger in Oklahoma City.
Named as defendants are the departments and secretaries of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury.
- Amy Wittenberg v. Expedia; Hotels.com; Travelocity.com; Sabre Holdings; Priceline.com
- No School Liability for Child’s Tragic Suicide