EWTN 'extremely pleased' with Supreme Court's decision in Hobby Lobby case
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The Irondale-based EWTN Global Catholic Network is "extremely pleased" with the Supreme Court's decision which allows corporations with religions objections to opt out of the new health care law's requirement to provide contraception for women.
Family-owned Hobby Lobby, which employs 15,000 full-time workers, is the largest company that sued over the birth control provision in the Affordable Care Act.
The justices ruled 5-4 on Monday that "closely held corporations" such as family-owned businesses, such as Hobby Lobby, can't be forced to cover contraception for employees.
The Eternal Word Television Network filed a federal lawsuit challenging the new healthcare mandate that they should provide contraceptions to their employees even though it is contradictory to the teachings of the Catholic church.
"EWTN can not comply with this mandate. For 2,000 years the Catholic church has been consistent in its teaching on contraception, abortion and sterlization," EWTN Chairman and CEO Michael Warsaw said.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruling only deals with family-owned businesses like Hobby Lobby and not non-profit organizations such as EWTN.
Cumberland Law School Dean John Carroll says the narrow 5-4 ruling does extend religious freedom more than it has been in the past.
"The notion a corporation has religious freedom. The court was careful to say these are closely held corporations, businesses, family businesses," Carroll said.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange filed a brief in support of Hobby Lobby's case. He said he applauds the SCOTUS ruling.
"This is a historic decision. This is the first case to come before the Supreme Court to address the constitution and the Affordable Care Act and they found the Affordable Care Act went too far," Strange said.
Carroll says the ruling does not strike down the Affordable Care Act but it could provide more possible challenges.
As for EWTN, the law school dean believes it should open the door for a favorable ruling.
"Logically you would say if it extends to family held businesses it ought to extend to religious organizations as well," Carroll said.
The Eternal Word Network filed an emergency appeal with the federal appeals court in Atlanta trying to hold off the mandates of the Affordable Care Act.
On Monday afternoon, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals granted a temporary injunction that bars the federal government from imposing a $35,000 a day fine on the network.
Without the injunction, EWTN was facing a $35,000 a day or $12 million per year fine for refusing to comply with the Affordable Care Act that mandates employers cover contraceptives for employees.
The deadline for EWTN to comply with the ACA provision to cover contraceptives is midnight on Monday, June 30. The injunction gives the network more time for the courts to hear their appeal.
Michael Warsaw, EWTN's chairman and CEO, posted the following statement on the company's Facebook page on Monday:
"EWTN is extremely pleased with today's Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case. The fact that the Court believes that the government has less restrictive means of accomplishing its goals is very helpful. However, it remains unclear whether this decision addresses the serious objections that EWTN has raised with regard to the government's "accommodation" scheme for nonprofit faith-based organizations. We are consulting with our legal team to determine how this significant decision applies to EWTN and our pending case before the courts."
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