Justice Stays Obamacare Rule in Conestoga Wood-related Case

By Bill Esler | Posted: 01/01/2014 9:00AM


Conestoga Wood Speicalties Anthony Hahn WASHINGTON — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayer issued a stay on the contraception rule of Obamacare, in a case brought in Colorado by an order of nuns.

A similar case by Conestoga Wood Specialties' Mennonite owners will be heard by the Supreme Court in March. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review a lower court ruling that required 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. Under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, group insurance policies must cover contraception services.

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In December 2012 the Hahn family filed a civil lawsuit in Federal Court in Philadelphia against three U.S. government agencies. They sought, as individuals, an injunction against the Affordable Care Act requirement for insurance coverage for morning-after birth control pills and sterilization, which the Hahns say runs counter to Mennonite beliefs.

In addition to the Hahns as individuals, the Conestoga Wood Specialities corporation was also party 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 lost again in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in July. 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 case, which is also being funded by a religious oriented legal foundation, has significant financial implications. Conestoga Wood Specialties says it would face nearly $3 million per month in Internal Revenue Service fines if it doesn’t allow insurance coverage for contraception.


About the Author

Bill Esler, Woodworking Network, WMS

Bill Esler

Bill Esler, Editorial Director, Woodworking Network Bill is responsible for overall content at WoodworkingNetwork.com Woodworking Network magazine, and related newsletters. Bill also manages event programs for Woodworking Network Live conferences at the Woodworking Machinery & Supplies Expo in Toronto and Cabinets & Closets Expo. He developing audience engagement programs using custom digital printing, live lead-generating events, custom websites, and custom digital and print content. Read Bill Esler's woodworking blogs. He can be reached at besler@woodworkingnetwork.com or follow him on Google+.

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