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Government attorneys: We want to argue Hobby Lobby, not Conestoga Wood

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Obamacare's contraceptive mandate is headed for a final reckoning in the U.S. Supreme Court, and government attorneys want that to be on the Hobby Lobby case, not the one filed by Lancaster County-based Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp.

In a brief filed Monday, the attorneys said the court's consideration of the question raised in the Conestoga case is warranted, "but the government believes that Hobby Lobby is a better vehicle for its consideration" and therefore requests that the court hold the Conestoga case pending a Hobby Lobby decision.

The Conestoga case was filed with the Supreme Court first, but Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby is a much larger company, with 566 stores across the nation, and has therefore attracted more attention. According to the brief, the lower court decisions on the Hobby Lobby case presented a more complete basis for review than does Conestoga's.

Conestoga is owned by the Hahn family, which is Mennonite and has religious objections to providing what it considers to be abortifacients, such as the morning-after pill. They first filed suit in December 2012 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which ruled against them. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.

Under the mandate, companies must include the contraceptives in their health insurance plans or face a penalty of $100 per employee per day. About 35 companies have challenged the law, which is also being protested by nonprofit groups, on the same grounds.

Heather Stauffer

Heather Stauffer

Heather Stauffer covers Lancaster County, nonprofits, education and health care. Have a tip or question for her? Email her at heathers@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter, @StaufferCPBJ.

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