Thursday, December 27, 2012

Justice Sotomayor Denies Injunction Pending Appeal In Hobby Lobby's Contraceptive Coverage Challenge

As previously reported, Hobby Lobby Stores and its sister corporation Mardel, Inc. have been seeking a temporary injunction to prevent enforcement of the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage mandate against them as they litigate their religious liberty challenges to the health care insurance rule.  After the 10th Circuit denied them an injunction, they sought a injunction from Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor in her role as Circuit Justice.  Yesterday, Sotomayor refused to grant the injunction.  In an in chambers opinion in Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius, (Sup. Ct., Dec. 26, 2012), Justice Sotomayor wrote in part:
Applicants do not satisfy the demanding standard for the extraordinary relief they seek.  First, whatever the ultimate merits of the applicants’ claims, their entitlement to relief is not “indisputably clear.”... This Court has not previously addressed similar RFRA or free exercise claims brought by closely held for-profit corporations and their controlling shareholders alleging that the mandatory provision of certain employee benefits substantially burdens their exercise of religion.... Moreover, the applicants correctly recognize that lower courts have diverged on whether to grant temporary injunctive relief to similarly situated plaintiffs raising similar claims....
AP reports on the decision, as does SCOTUS Blog.

UPDATE: Following Justice Sotomayor's decision, the Becket Fund, counsel for Hobby Lobby announced:
Hobby Lobby will continue their appeal before the Tenth Circuit. The Supreme Court merely decided not to get involved in the case at this time. It left open the possibility of review after their appeal is completed in the Tenth Circuit. The company will continue to provide health insurance to all qualified employees. To remain true to their faith, it is not their intention, as a company, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs.