March 15, 2013 — A federal judge on Thursday granted a preliminary injunction allowing the property management company Domino's Farms to avoid complying with the federal contraceptive coverage rules, which owner Tom Monaghan argued would violate his Catholic beliefs, Bloomberg Businessweek reports (Cronin Fisk, Bloomberg Businessweek, 3/15).
Monaghan is best known as the founder of Domino's Pizza, which he sold in 1998. His current company, Domino's Farms, employs 45 full-time workers and 44 part-time workers (Reindl, Detroit Free Press, 3/14).
In December, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Zatkoff granted Monaghan a temporary restraining order against the contraceptive rules, which allowed the company to avoid complying without a penalty (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/3). Without the court order, the company would have had to offer contraceptive coverage to its employees on Jan. 1, 2013, or face about $200,000 in annual penalties, according to the Detroit Free Press (Detroit Free Press, 3/15).
The preliminary injunction Zatkoff issued on Thursday will keep the restraining order in effect unless there is a successful appeal.
Details of Ruling
In his decision, Zatkoff said that "[d]enying [Monaghan's] motion will result in a substantial burden on [his] right to free exercise of religion, since the mandate requires him to choose whether to comply and violate his beliefs, or accept the financial consequences of not doing so" (Bloomberg Businessweek, 3/15).
The judge added, "It is in the best interest of the public that Monaghan not be compelled to act in conflict with his religious beliefs" (Goodman, AP/Miami Herald, 3/14).
In a filing arguing against Monghan's request for the injunction, U.S. Department of Justice attorneys had written that "the relevant question" was whether his religious beliefs were "substantially burdened by a regulation that applies only to the health plan of a wholly separate legal entity." They also wrote, "By treating Mr. Monaghan and Domino's Farms as one and the same, the court ignored the layers of legal separation between Mr. Monaghan and the corporation, only the latter of which is responsible for providing health coverage that includes contraceptive coverage" (Bloomberg Businessweek, 3/15).
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette (R) filed a court brief in support of Monaghan's suit, while the American Civil Liberties Union opposed it (Detroit Free Press, 3/14).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
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