Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has denied a request to block part of the federal health care law requiring employee plans to provide insurance coverage for the morning-after pill.
Hobby Lobby Stores and sister company, Mardel Inc., sued the government, claiming the mandate violates the religious beliefs of its owners.
Sotomayor said Wednesday the stores fail to satisfy the demanding legal standard for blocking the requirement on an emergency basis. She said the companies may continue their challenge to the regulations in the lower courts.
Company officials say they must decide whether to violate their faith or face a daily $1.3 million fine beginning Jan. 1 if they ignore the law.
Reuters is reporting Sotomayor did not rule on the merits of the companies’ religious-based claims. Forbes listed David Green, the 71-year-old who controls the companies, the 79th richest American with a net worth of nearly $5 billion.
Attorneys for the government have said the drugs do not cause abortions and that the U.S. has a compelling interest in mandating insurance coverage for them.
In ruling against the companies last month, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton said churches and other religious organizations have been granted constitutional protection from the birth-control provisions but that “Hobby Lobby and Mardel are not religious organizations.”
With reporting by The Associated Press.