Hobby Lobby Stores v. Sebelius, No. 12-6294 (10th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
The plaintiffs in this case were David and Barbara Green, their three children, and the businesses they collectively owned and operated: Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Mardel, Inc. As owners and operators of both Hobby Lobby and Mardel, the Greens organized their businesses with express religious principles in mind. As was particularly relevant to this case, one aspect of the Greens’ religious principles was a belief that human life begins when sperm fertilizes an egg. In addition, the Greens believed it was immoral for them to facilitate any act that caused the death of a human embryo. Plaintiffs brought an action to challenge portions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) whereby employment-based group health plans covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) were required provide certain types of health services for women that implicated contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling (without cost-sharing by plan participants or beneficiaries) - all "abortifacients" that went against plaintiffs' religious beliefs. Plaintiffs filed suit to challenge the contraceptive-coverage requirement of the ACA under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, and the Administrative Procedure Act. Plaintiffs simultaneously moved for a preliminary injunction on the basis of their RFRA and Free Exercise claims. The district court denied that motion. Plaintiffs appealed the denial of the injunction. After review by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Court held that Hobby Lobby and Mardel were entitled to bring claims under RFRA, established a likelihood of success that their rights under statute were substantially burdened by the contraceptive-coverage requirement, and established an irreparable harm. However, the case was remanded back to the district court for further proceedings on two remaining factors governing the grant or denial of a preliminary injunction.