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DENVER – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit today issued a fractured decision in a case brought by the national craft supply chain Hobby Lobby, Inc., seeking an injunction to prevent compliance with the federal rule requiring employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception. The court reversed an earlier decision denying the injunction, but refused to grant an injunction itself. Instead, it remanded the case to the district court.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, as well as in similar cases recently heard by three other courts of appeals. The ACLU's brief in support of the federal rule urged the court to require Hobby Lobby, Inc. to provide its 13,000 employees with health insurance coverage for all preventive services, including contraceptive care.
"We disagree with the court's reasoning," said Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the ACLU. "Religious liberty is a fundamental freedom. We are all entitled to our religious beliefs but not to impose those beliefs on others. A business like Hobby Lobby cannot use religion to discriminate by denying women coverage for contraception."
This case is one of more than 60 across the country addressing the rule mandating contraception coverage. Today's decision is the first issued by a circuit court in one of these cases. The 10th Circuit had taken the unusual step of hearing the case en banc during arguments in May.