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Judge on Hobby Lobby Affordable Care Act case describes appellate opinion as ‘political fiction’

Posted Jul 19, 2013 1:55 PM CDT
By Stephanie Francis Ward

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While the Hobby Lobby’s legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act is ongoing, it won’t be fined for not providing employees with emergency contraceptive coverage, as the law mandates, a federal judge ruled Friday.

Oklahoma-based U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton didn't appear to be happy about the injunction. Previously, Heaton denied a similar motion, which was overturned in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Oklahoman reports in an article here. In an en banc opinion (PDF), the court found that for-profit corporations’ religious freedoms are protected by the U.S. Constitution, and allowed the Hobby Lobby action to go forward.

"We are proceeding on the basis of political fiction that corporations have the right to exercise freedom of religion,” Heaton said from the bench Friday, the Oklahoman reports. Heaton described the appellate court’s take on corporations as an “exotic definition of personhood.”

“This case is about life — our deeply held conviction is that life begins with conception,” Steve Green, the chain store’s president, is quoted saying after the hearing. “To offer prescriptions that take life is just not an option than us.”

The Oklahoman reports that Hobby Lobby has 13,000 employees, and the fines could have been $1.3 million daily.

According to the article, the government may appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. It's been reported that more than 45 lawsuits have been brought challenging the health care law’s mandate for emergency contraception coverage.

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