By Patrick B. McGuigan | CapitolBeatOK
OKLAHOMA CITY – In a dramatic turn of events, a federal judge here has ruled Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. deserved a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the Affordable Care Act, widely known as “ObamaCare.”
A legal advocate for the company said the ruling means “the tide has turned” against the ACA.
Run by an evangelical Christian family, the Greens of Oklahoma City, Hobby Lobby has fought for months to prevent enforcement of federal mandates compelling the firm to provide insurance coverage for abortafacients (abortion-inducing drugs) and other medical processes that violate the religious views of the owners.
The retail firm secured a big win back in June, when the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the company had a right to keep fighting against the insurance mandate. With the case back before U.S. Judge Joe Heaton in the western district of Oklahoma, the basis is laid to take the litigation up the line, where the company can argue its case the legal merits rather than on the basis of technical objections to the legislation.
In a June filing supporting Hobby Lobby case, state Attorney General Scott Pruitt said, “The actions of the (federal government) substantially burden the undisputed, sincere, and deeply held religious faith of these citizens of Oklahoma who are otherwise fully protected by the Constitution and laws of the State of Oklahoma, and forcibly require them to personally undertake actions that are contrary to the undisputed, sincere, and deeply held religious faith of these citizens.”
In a late June 5-3 ruling the 10th Circuit indicated the retailer might win the case on the merits when it was re-argued.
On Friday, Hobby Lobby gained the preliminary injunction. Celebrating the procedural win, Kyle Duncan, general counsel with the Becket Fund for Religious Libert, and lead attorney for Hobby Lobby in the case, declared in a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK, “The tide has turned against the HHS mandate.”
Reading his opinion from the bench Friday in his chambers at the U.S. Court House, Heaton said, “There is a substantial public interest in ensuring that no individual or corporation has their legs cut out from under them while these difficult issues are resolved.”
In addition to Pruitt’s filings, Hobby Lobby has garnered support from several Republican members of Congress.
The Greens originally sued to prevent enforcement of mandates for “preventive services” — including abortion-causing drugs — in the health care law passed in 2010.
David Green, the founder of Hobby Lobby, declined CapitolBeatOK’s requests for interviews. However, in statements provided to the online news service, Green has said he believes his company’s success has endured “by God’s grace and provision.”
“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,” Green said in the statement.
According to a statement from the Becket Fund, there are now 63 lawsuits engaging the controversial HHS mandate. In addition to Hobby Lobby, the Fund now is representing Wheaton College, East Texas Baptist University, Houston Baptist University, Colorado Christian University, the Eternal Word Television Network, Ave Maria University, and Belmont Abbey College.
In October, there were 37 lawsuits challenging the controversial HHS mandate.
Contact Patrick McGuigan at [email protected]