WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review a lower court ruling that requires the 900-employee Conestoga Wood Specialties components business to fund certain types of birth control under its group health insurance program.
Anthony Hahn, president and CEO of Conestoga Wood Specialties, says the requirement violates his Mennonite religious convictions. Anthony Hahn is the second generation of Hahn's to control the family business. 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.
The petition 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."
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.
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.