DENVER (CBS4) – A key ruling in Denver federal court took place on Thursday on the federal health care mandate.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals gave the company Hobby Lobby was the go-ahead to challenge the law requiring birth control coverage.
The owners of the arts and crafts stores chain have made it clear their company is a Christian one. They have a sign at the entrance to all of their stores that says they are not open for business on Sundays “to allow employees time for family & worship.”
Hobby Lobby wanted an answer by July 1, and they got it. That’s when the company says they would start paying more than $1 million in fines per day for refusing to cover employees’ emergency contraception.
The federal appeals court ruled that Hobby Lobby and Mardel Christian & Education, a sister company have a strong case, and should not have to pay the fines in the meantime.
That’s contrary to what a lower court ruled.
“The appelate court in essence reprimanded the lower district court and said you should have granted a preliminary injunction,” said attorney Dan Recht, who is not involved with the case.
The judges sent the case back to the lower court, saying “[The companies] have established a likelihood of success that their rights under this statute are substantially burdened by the contraceptive-coverage requirement, and have established an irreparable harm.”
Planned Parenthood called the decision procedural but says they are watching the proceedings closely.
“I think it’s really too soon to read the tea leaves in terms of what this actually might mean. We still have a long process to go,” said Monica McCafferty, Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains spokeswoman.
David Green, founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby, called the ruling encouraging.
“We believe that business owners should not have to be forced to choose between following their faith and following the law. We will continue to fight for our religious freedom,” Green wrote in a prepared statement.
Recht told CBS4 he expects the issue will go to the country’s highest court.
“This particular decision is one of the puzzle pieces, the building blocks, toward our climb to the U.S. Supreme Court on this very issue,” Recht said.
Hobby lobby is one of 60 companies challenging the health care law. They are the largest, with more than 13,000 full-time employees.