Judge Joe Heaton of the US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma [official website] on Friday granted Hobby Lobby [corporate website] a temporary exemption [order, PDF] from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) [text; JURIST backgrounder] provision requiring carriers to offer insurance coverage for birth control. Hobby Lobby and its sister company, Mardel, have argued that that having to provide every form of birth control would violate their religious beliefs. The US Department of Justice has argued that contraception coverage is needed to promote public health and gender equality. Heaton stayed the case until October 1 to give the federal government time to consider an appeal.
At the moment there are numerous lawsuits challenging the health care law's mandate, but Hobby Lobby is the leading proponent for challenging the providing of contraceptives under the PPACA. In June the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] that Hobby Lobby may challenge the mandate [JURIST report] to provide employees with coverage for contraceptives under PPACA. In May Hobby Lobby requested an exemption [JURIST report] from the mandate. In February a group of nine senators and two representatives joined to file [JURIST report] an amicus brief in support of Hobby Lobby and Mardel. In December Hobby Lobby and Mardel announced that they would not comply [JURIST report] with Justice Sonia Sotomayor's order that the companies provide employees with coverage under the PPACA.