CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The lawsuit filed by South Charleston car dealer Joe Holland over whether he must provide employees with morning-after birth-control pills has been put on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on similar cases.
The Affordable Care Act requires new insurance plans to cover access to FDA-approved contraceptives, including Plan B and "ella," known as morning-after pills.
Holland's lawsuit contends that, by forcing the dealership to include in its group health insurance coverage "drugs that induce abortion . . . and contraceptive counseling," the law deprives company owners of their right to practice their Christian religious beliefs.
The Supreme Court said last month it would hear arguments this term in two cases with split decisions from appeals courts.
"Some of the facts in the two cases at the Supreme Court are almost identical to the facts in our case, so it certainly made sense to stay the case," said Allen Prunty, an attorney with Robinson & McElwee, which filed the lawsuit on Holland's behalf. The Liberty Institute and the Family Policy Council also represent Holland.
Earlier this year, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled in a case filed by Conestoga Wood Specialties that, "for-profit, secular corporations cannot engage in religious exercise."
Meanwhile, a federal court in Denver ruled this year that there was religious standing to bring the claim. In a case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit filed by Hobby Lobby Inc. and Mardel, a Christian bookstore chain, the court ruled the businesses were entitled to contest the mandate and probably would prevail. A family that says the mandate violates their Christian beliefs owns Mardel and Hobby Lobby.
On Tuesday, parties in the Holland lawsuit agreed to close the case until a decision by the high court is rendered in the Hobby Lobby case, according to an order signed by U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston.