Federal judge halts Obama birth-control policy for Domino's Pizza founder

A federal judge has ordered a temporary halt on the Obama administration's birth-control coverage policy for Tom Monaghan, the Catholic billionaire who founded Domino's Pizza. 

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Federal District Court Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff issued the decision Sunday, less than two days before the policy would have taken effect and exposed Monaghan to fines for non-compliance.

"Plaintiff has shown that abiding by the mandate will substantially burden his exercise of religion," Zatkoff wrote. 

"The government has failed to satisfy its burden of showing that its actions were narrowly tailored to serve a compelling interest. ... This factor weighs in favor of granting Plaintiffs' motion." 

Monaghan recently filed suit against the policy, which requires most employers to cover a range of birth-control methods in their health plans. Churches and houses of worship are exempt, and employees of religiously affiliated institutions such as Catholic schools will be able to obtain birth control directly from their insurance company, also without a co-pay.

The accommodation does not cover employers who are personally religious and object to their employee health coverage serving as a vehicle for forms of birth control they disagree with, such as the morning-after pill.

The suit comes on behalf of Monaghan and Domino's Farms, a Michigan office park he owns, not Domino's Pizza.

It is one of more than 40 challenges pending against the mandate, many of which come from employers who run secular businesses.

Monaghan also founded Ave Maria University, a Catholic college in Florida, and Legatus, a group of Catholic business leaders. Both organizations have already filed suit over the mandate.

Supporters of the requirement say birth control is essential component of most women's healthcare and should be covered by insurance to make it as affordable as possible.

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