WASHINGTON — Conestoga Wood Specialties asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a ruling that requires the 900-employee wood components business to fund certain types of birth control under its group health insurance program.
Anthony Hahn, president and CEO, says for the Hahn family - second generation owners of the business - the requirement violates Mennonite religious convictions. Under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, group insurance policies must cover contraception services.
In December 2012 the Hahns filed a civil lawsuit in Federal Court in Philadelphia against three U.S. government agencies. They sought an injunction over the Affordable Care Act requirement for insurance coverage for morning-after birth control pills and sterilization, which the Hahns say run counter to Mennonite beliefs.
Conestoga Wood Specialities corporation was also part to the case. The original claim states that for Conestoga, it would be "sinful and immoral for the company to participate in, pay for, facilitate or otherwise support contraception" that would have the same effect as an abortion.
The Hahns lost the original case, then appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, losing again on July 26 when the court upheld the lower court's denial of a preliminary injunction. Analysts say the case turns on whether a for-profit corporation can have a religious belief, as opposed to an individual or a religious institution.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys, which has been handling the case - along with 12 other related cases - is now seeking funding at its site for Conestoga Wood Specialties Supreme Court appeal. The Washington-based organization provides pro-bono legal aid to Christian groups, and provides legal support in court cases related to conservative Christian religious issues, such as same-sex marriage and federal aid to private religious schools. It developed a video showing Conestoga Wood Specialties' operations, and CEO Anthony Hahn making the case for why Conestoga should be granted an exemption from providing the disputed birth control coverage.
Conestoga Wood Specialties must pay nearly $3 million per month in fines, enforced by the Internal Revenue Service, if it doesn’t allow insurance coverage for contraception.
The petition ADF filed with the Supreme Court argues that “the Hahn family and their close identification with Conestoga exemplify the case for allowing for-profit businesses and their family owners to live their faith as they participate in the marketplace. If anyone subject to the contraceptive-coverage Mandate can claim free exercise rights, they can.”