Tenth Circuit rules in favor of Hobby Lobby on its challenge to HHS contraceptive mandate

Yesterday the Tenth Circuit en banc issued its opinion in Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius, reversing the District Court’s denial of Hobby Lobby’s request for a preliminary injunction while it challenges the contraceptive mandate, and remanding for further consideration of two of the factors involved in granting a preliminary injunction.

The majority opinion is by Judge Timothy Tymkovich, with concurring opinion by Judges Harris Hartz, Neil Gorsuch, and Robert Bacharach, and opinions concurring in part and dissenting in part by Chief Judge Mary Beck Briscoe and Judge Scott Matheson.

The opinions total 165 pages, so I haven’t had a chance to read it all yet, but it appears that the Court has given the Religious Freedom Restoration Act full effect, and recognized that corporations have rights under RFRA.  As I explained in my earlier post about this case, this result makes perfect sense. There is no reason why business owners should be forced to sacrifice their religious beliefs and most deeply-held principles merely because they want to make a living.  For example, if a law required all meat-processing companies to use non-Kosher methods, certainly a Jewish-owned company should be able to challenge the infringement of their religious liberty.

I may well write another post soon that looks at the opinion in detail, but it seems like a big win for the cause of religious liberty.

As expected in a high profile case, the decision has attracted a lot of attention on the Internet.  Jonathan Adler has this post at the Volokh Conspiracy. Ed Whelan praises the decision at Bench Memos, while Ian Milhiser criticizes it at ThinkProgress. Brianna Bailey has this report in The Oklahoman, and Tom McGhee has this report in the Denver Post.




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