Domino’s Pizza Founder Given Injunction Against Contraceptive Mandate

In Domino’s Farms Corp. v. Sebelius, the business asking for an injunction against the contraceptive mandate is run by Thomas Monaghan, the founder of Domino’s Pizza, whose beliefs

are in line with Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, which states “any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation, whether as an end or as a means”—including contraception—is a grave sin. …. Monaghan believes, in accordance with Pope John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae, that “‘[c]ausing death’ can never be considered a form of medical treatment,” but rather “runs completely counter to the health-care profession, which is meant to be an impassioned and unflinching affirmation of life.”

One hurdle for Monaghan was establishing that he would be burdened by the contraceptive requirement notwithstanding that the mandate applies not to him but to the corporation Domino’s Farms.  But that was a low hurdle to this United States District Court in Michigan which allowed Monaghan’s beliefs – not corporate law, law of agency, or any objective test – to decide this issue:

even though the ACA does not literally apply to Monaghan, the Court is in no position to declare that acting through his company to provide certain health care coverage to his employees does not violate Monaghan’s religious beliefs. They are, after all, his religious beliefs.

The court gave similar deference to Monaghan’s beliefs – undergoing no causation analysis as we have seen elsewhere – to decide the central issue of whether his religious exercise is burdened:

the Court is in no position to decide whether and to what extent Monaghan would violate his religious beliefs by complying with the mandate. … Other courts have assumed that a  law substantially burdens a person’s free exercise of religion based on that person’s assertions.

Given that his religious exercise is burdened, the government had to establish that it is using the least restrictive means to implement its interest in the availability of contraceptives.  The court held that if failed to do so, and noted two alternatives:

Plaintiffs propose that the Government could provide the contraceptive services directly, or perhaps offer incentives to employers who provide for such services (as opposed to sanctioning employers who do not).

The court granted a Temporary Restraining Order against implementation of the contraceptive mandate.

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Filed under Courts, Free exercise of religion, Religious rights

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