|By John P. Martin, The Philadelphia Inquirer|
In a 34-page ruling, U.S. District Judge
The decision was the latest in a string of conflicting rulings across the country, but the first in the Third U.S. Judicial Circuit, which covers
Last month, the Hahns claimed in a lawsuit that the new law would unconstitutionally force them to offer such options, which they called a "sinful and immoral" affront to the Mennonite Christian beliefs on which they run their company. Violating the law, they said, would subject them to crippling fines --
They also argued that the free-speech rights that the
Citing the potential for significant harm against the company, Goldberg issued a 14-day temporary restraining order late last month, and barred government officials from imposing the fines. Lawyers for both sides appeared before the judge last week.
Attorneys arguing on behalf of the Departments of Treasury and
The judge agreed that Conestoga did not prove it qualified for an exemption as a "religious employer" and called its attempt to extend the free-speech rights bestowed by the Citizens United ruling "a significant leap" he wasn't prepared to endorse.
Ultimately, he said, the Hahns did not prove the new mandate constituted a religious burden.
"It is worth emphasizing that the ultimate and deeply private choice to use an abortifacient contraceptive rests not with the Hahns," he wrote, "but with Conestoga's employees."
The Hahns will appeal, their lawyer said after reading the ruling.
"We think it's well thought out," attorney
A spokesman for the
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|Source:||McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|