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Hobby Lobby, Resisting State Subpoena, Is Drawn Into New Birth Control Suit

[caption id="attachment_6539" align="alignnone" width="620"] Demonstrators outside the U.S. Supreme Court, on the day the Court issued its decision in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case. June 30, 2014. Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi [/caption] Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., the arts and craft company whose religious rights were the centerpiece of a dispute that reached the U.S. Supreme Court, has been drawn back into a fight over birth control insurance. This time, the company is resisting a state subpoena for information about employment practices. The state of Washington is suing the Trump administration over rules that would allow nearly all employers to refuse to provide contraceptive insurance for their employees if the employer has a religious or moral objection. The new rules were issued in October by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and almost immediately afterward, eight lawsuits were filed challenging them in federal district courts. In Washington v. Trump, filed in federal district court in Tacoma, the state's attorneys subpoenaed eight companies, including Hobby Lobby, for information about their employment practices and employee compensation. The state contends it needs that information to establish standing—injury caused by the rollback—to challenge the rules. The Trump administration's U.S. Justice Department is arguing the lawsuit should be dismissed because the state lacks standing to go forward. Five of the eight companies have asked U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton of the Western District of Washington to block the subpoenas, which require production of the information on Dec. 15, 18 or 19. Although all eight conduct business in Washington, five, including Hobby Lobby, are based out of state, according to their counsel, Michael Patterson of Seattle's Patterson Buchanan Fobes & Leitch, and Eric Kniffin of Colorado Springs' Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie. Besides Hobby Lobby, the other companies are: Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., J.E. Dunn Construction Co., Electric Mirror LLC and Continuant Inc. Conestoga Wood, like Hobby Lobby, was a party to the 2014 Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. A 5-4 majority held that the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive insurance mandate as applied to closely held corporations and their religious owners violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. "Even if the five companies objected to all [U.S. Food and Drug Administration]-approved contraceptives, the subpoenas are not 'tailored' to help Washington prove standing," Patterson wrote in the motion to quash the subpoenas. "They seek nationwide information and are therefore grossly overbroad." Lawyers for the companies called the subpoenas overbroad and said they "do not bother to ask for information specific to each company’s Washington employees." Washington filed its lawsuit in October and argued that the Trump administration rules violated the First and Fifth amendments as well as civil rights protections. The state's attorney general is asking the district court to issue an injunction halting implementation of the rules. In addition to Washington state, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and the American Civil Liberties Union have filed separate lawsuits challenging the rules. A hearing was held Dec. 12 in the California challenge, which has been joined by Delaware, Maryland, New York and Virginia.   The court papers Hobby Lobby and the other companies filed are posted below:   [falcon-embed src="embed_1"]