Associate Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor received an "emergency application for injunction pending appellate review" as a deadline approaches for implementation of the Affordable Care Act of 2010. Starting Tuesday, MSNBC reveals health insurance companies must begin providing coverage for contraceptives. Sotomayor denied the request Wednesday. Hobby Lobby and Mardel are two privately-held companies owned by Christian families who are anti-abortion.
What was the purpose of the injunction request?
Hobby Lobby Stores v. Sebelius is a pending court case in which the craft store chain challenges the director of the Department of Health and Human Services as to its need to provide contraceptive health insurance for its employees. Lawyers for the stores argue in the 45-page brief that the "government has offered no relief whatsoever ... not even enough time to litigate the case."
How do the stores claim their rights are being violated?
Hobby Lobby asserts in the injunction request that it faces $1.3 million fines per day starting Tuesday. The calculation is based on $100 in fines per day per number of insured people on the payroll. The craft store affirms there are 13,000 people who have health insurance because of their employment with Hobby Lobby and Mardel.
Do the companies have a case for the injunction?
Several court cases have precedents whereby the federal government granted other entities the option to carry contraceptives as part of the health insurance mandate. The filing claims Hobby Lobby and Mardel will be subject to "draconian fines unless they abandon their religious convictions and provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs."
What about freedom of religion in this case?
Fox News reports the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Hobby Lobby is a company and not a religious group as stipulated in the law. Places such as churches are exempt from providing contraception to employees. Both Hobby Lobby and Mardel claim the companies have "undisputed religious beliefs" that should be taken into account when weighing the injunction. The Oklahoma City-based chains believe contraception amounts to having an abortion.
What about the timing of the request?
The companies made the request of the Supreme Court in a filing Dec. 21. Sotomayor denied the request on Dec. 26. The fines start accruing Jan. 1, once the new year happens. Hobby Lobby and Mardel must either comply with the law or face fines. The firms tried, but failed, to get a lower court to approve the injunction in November, according to the Associated Press .
How long have the companies been in business?
Hobby Lobby was founded in 1972 in a 300-square-foot retail space in Oklahoma City by David Green. Mart Green founded Mardel nine years later as a Christian-based book store that carries gifts and educational supplies. The religious tenets of the companies founders have been known for years.
William Browning is a research librarian specializing in U.S. politics.