March 15, 2013
Domino's Pizza Founder Gets Contraceptive Mandate Blocked
Michigan judge decides Tom Monaghan likely to succeed on his religious freedom claim.
A Michigan federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act (ACA), ruling in favor of Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan and his for-profit property management company, Domino's Farms Corporation.
Monaghan, who is Catholic, had filed suit against the mandate, arguing that employer-provided contraceptive coverage had a substantial effect on him personally, 'irreparably harming' his rights to religious freedom and freedom of speech.
Notably, judge Lawrence Zatkoff decided that Monaghan was likely to succeed on the basis of both his First Amendment and Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) claims, a ruling that other courts have been unwilling or hesitant to make.
The government has argued that the contraceptive mandate does not substantially burden a for-profit business owner's freedom of religion, denying that a corporation has the same rights as its owner even if the corporation is closely held. Courts have been wary of weighing in on this—until recently.
Zatkoff held that Monaghan's First Amendment and RFRA claims were likely to succeed.
"Because [Monaghan's] claims involve a First Amendment right, and because the Court has found a likelihood that [his] RFRA claim will succeed on the merits," Zatkoff's ruling stated, "the Court finds that irreparable harm could result to [Monaghan]."
Last week, CT noted a similar ruling in favor of Seneca Hardwood, a Pennsylvania-based company that was allowed to proceed with its case on the basis of its RFRA claims.
In February, CT reported that the Obama administration announced changes to the mandate to redefine which religious organizations, including colleges, qualified for exemptions. CT also examined how religious freedom has become the new battleground for personhood debates.