Domino's founder sues over contraception mandate

By Michelle Bauman

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Tom Monaghan (File Photo - CNA).

Tom Monaghan, the founder and former owner of Domino's Pizza, is suing the federal government over a controversial mandate that requires him to violate his Catholic faith in his business decisions.

The lawsuit described the contraception mandate as “an unprecedented despoiling of religious rights” that both “attacks and desecrates a foremost tenet of the Catholic Church.”

It pointed to Thomas Jefferson's statement that “No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority.”

Filed Dec. 14 by Thomas More Law Center, the lawsuit challenges a federal mandate requiring employers to offer health insurance covering contraception, sterilization and early abortion drugs, even if doing so violates their firmly-held religious beliefs.

More than 110 business owners, non-profit organizations and religious charities have sued over the mandate, arguing that it violates their constitutionally-guaranteed right to religious freedom.

At age 75, Monaghan is best known for founding Domino's Pizza in 1960. He sold the pizza company in 1998 and no longer has any active affiliation with it. However, he remains the owner of Domino’s Farms, the property management company for a Michigan office park that is home to more than 50 corporations, professional firms, non-profits and entrepreneurial businesses.

Monaghan and Domino's Farms were both listed as plaintiffs in the recent lawsuit, which explained that they are committed to “a common mission of conducting their business operations with integrity and in compliance with the teachings, mission, and values of the Catholic Church.”

The legal challenge noted that Domino's Farms offers its tenants a Catholic bookstore and on-site Catholic chapel, which has Mass four times per day.
 
In accordance with Church teaching, Monaghan and his company believe that all human life is sacred, bearing the image and likeness of God from the moment of conception, it added.

They also agree with Church teaching on the nature and purpose of human sexuality, it said, explaining that they view contraception, sterilization and abortion as “gravely immoral practices” rather than true medicine or health care that provides for the well-being of persons.

The lawsuit observed that Monaghan is a pro-life Catholic who “has devoted his life and resources to Catholic philanthropic causes,” including the promotion of Catholic education and charity.

He has founded numerous Catholic organizations, including Ave Maria University, Ave Maria School of Law and Legatus, a group for business leaders to bring together faith, family and business.
 
In his business practices, Monaghan “is guided by his religious beliefs” and “follows the teachings of the Catholic faith as defined by the Magisterium,” the legal document stressed.

As part of this commitment to live out his “deeply held religious beliefs” in all aspects of his life, Monaghan offers a health insurance plan that specifically excludes coverage of contraception, sterilization and abortion, it said, noting that Domino’s Farms has never offered coverage of these products and procedures.

However, the mandate threatens the ability of Monaghan and Domino’s Farms to remain in business, since failing to comply with it would result in “ruinous fines that would have a crippling impact on their ability to survive economically,” it explained.

Monaghan and his company are now asking the court to grant them an injunction blocking the enforcement of the mandate. So far, two for-profit businesses have been denied an injunction, while four have secured one.

Such an injunction is necessary, the lawsuit said, so that Monaghan and Domino’s Farms may continue “to conduct their business in a manner that does not violate the principles of their religious faith.”

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