The Tenth Circuit ruling in a case brought by the devout Christian owners of hobby and book stores marks the first time an appeals court has examined Obamacare's contraceptives policy.
Requiring that certain contraceptives be made available under the mandated health-care coverage of Obamacare would substantially burden the religious rights of a chain of hobby stores and Christian bookstores and their devout Christian owners, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.
The court ruled that the companies, Hobby Lobby Stores and Mardel, Inc., and its owners, the Green family, have a valid claim in their case under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
But a majority of judges on the court declined to approve an injunction that would allow the company an exemption from paying for contraceptive methods they find religiously offensive.
Instead, the court sent that issue back to a federal judge to determine whether an injunction should be issued to protect the religious rights of the company and its owners.
The company is facing a July 1 deadline to comply.
“We hold that Hobby Lobby and Mardel are entitled to bring claims under RFRA, have established a likelihood of success that their rights under this statute are substantially burdened by the contraceptive-coverage requirement, and have established an irreparable harm,” Circuit Judge Timothy Tymkovich wrote for the court.
“But we remand the case to the district court for further proceedings on two of the remaining factors governing the grant or denial of a preliminary injunction,” he said.
The 5-to-3 decision by the Tenth US Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver marks the first time an appeals court has examined the issue.