Obama admin can’t enforce HHS mandate against Domino's Pizza founder: court
ANN ARBOR, MI, March 15, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Catholic billionaire founder of the Domino's Pizza chain has won a preliminary injunction against the HHS mandate for his property management company, Domino's Farms.
The strongly-worded ruling by Federal District Court Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff bars the Obama administration from forcing Monaghan to provide contraceptive and abortifacient drug coverage for his employees, or levying fines if he does not.
"It is in the best interest of the public that Monaghan not be compelled to act in conflict with his religious beliefs," Judge Zatkoff wrote.
The judge added that violating Monaghan’s First Amendment Rights, “even if for a short time,” by enforcing the mandate, would constitute “irreparable injury.”
Under the HHS mandate, Domino's Farms faced $200,000 in yearly fines if it did not comply, according to the judge’s decision.
The Obama administration argued against the preliminary injunction by claiming that once a business owner chooses to enter into the marketplace, he surrenders his right to exercise his religious beliefs.
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The government is expected to appeal Judge Zatkoff's ruling to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Monaghan is a well-known Catholic philanthropist. He sold the pizza chain he founded in 1998, and currently has no affiliation with it. Domino's Farms is a separate entity located on a sprawling campus in Ann Arbor, Michigan, complete with its own herd of roaming bison.
In court filings Monaghan had argued that as a Catholic he views contraception as “gravely immoral.”
Attorney Erin Mersino, a lawyer for the Thomas More Law Center who is lead counsel on the case, welcomed the injunction.
"The HHS Mandate forces our clients to provide abortion causing drugs to their employees when doing so is a direct violation of the teachings of the Catholic Church and our clients' sincerely held religious beliefs,” he said.
“The Court's decision today upholds everyone's freedom of religion and rights protected by the Constitution."
According to The Becket Fund, there are currently 50 lawsuits pending against the HHS mandate across the country, joined by over 150 plaintiffs.
In 13 cases, the plaintiffs have won injunctions against the mandate. Requests for injunctions have only been denied in five cases, giving the momentum to opponents of the mandate.
It is expected that the mandate will eventually end up before the Supreme Court.