NORMAN — On Friday, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals granted Hobby Lobby’s petition for en banc hearing, agreeing to place Hobby Lobby’s appeal before the entire court rather than the usual three-judge panel. The full court will consider whether to halt enforcement of the HHS mandate, which forces Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., a Christian-owned-and-operated business, to provide and pay for emergency contraceptives, such as the “morning-after pill” and “week-after pill,” in violation of the religious beliefs of its owners, the Green family. The court also announced it will expedite oral arguments, with a hearing date expected soon.
“We are grateful that the court granted Hobby Lobby’s petition,” said Kyle Duncan, General Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “Full court review is reserved only for the most serious legal questions. This case asks whether the First Amendment protects everyone’s right to religious freedom, or whether it leaves out religious business owners like the Greens.”
In December, a two-judge panel of the 10th Circuit denied Hobby Lobby’s request to temporarily stop enforcement of the abortion pill mandate. Now, nine 10th Circuit judges will hear Hobby Lobby’s case. Arguments are expected to take place this spring.
There are now 52 separate lawsuits challenging the HHS mandate, which is a regulation under the Affordable Care Act. The Becket Fund led the charge against the unconstitutional HHS mandate, and along with Hobby Lobby represents: Wheaton College, East Texas Baptist University, Houston Baptist University, Belmont Abbey College, Colorado Christian University, the Eternal Word Television Network and Ave Maria University.