Domino's Birth Control Verdict Heartens Catholic Pizza King's Florida University

Jan 3, 2013

A federal court in Michigan has ruled that Domino's pizza founder and former owner Tom Monaghan has the constitutional religious freedom to exclude contraception from his employees' insurance coverage.

Now he's waiting to see whether that ruling will extend to the other institution he founded, Florida's Ave Maria University. Monaghan sold Domino's Pizza in 1998.

TOM MONAGHAN: Catholic businessman and founder of Ave Maria University wins his birth control case.

Monaghan and other leaders of faith-based organizations have been fighting a 2012 Obama administration order requiring employer-provided insurance to cover contraception to remain in compliance with the Affordable Care Act. Much of the opposition is based on religious teaching, such as the Catholic prohibition of birth control.

As the Naples Daily News reports today, the Michigan court order applies only to Monaghan's property management company and is not the complete victory that he seeks:

The Dec. 30 federal district court ruling grants a temporary moratorium on religious grounds for pizza mogul Monaghan and Domino's Farms — a privately held company that, while headed by Monaghan, is not a religiously affiliated institution, as opposed to Ave Maria, a Catholic university — from paying employee insurance that covers FDA-approved birth control methods.

"Monaghan must choose whether to abide by the mandate and violate his beliefs, or accept the financial consequences of not doing so. And, as noted, such an infringement upon Plaintiffs' First Amendment rights — even if for a short time — constitutes irreparable injury," the Michigan court ruling read.

Ave Maria president Jim Towey says the institution will not comply with the mandate no matter how the court rulings come down. Now, he says, Ave Maria is figuring out how to cope with sanctions that may follow: fines that could amount to a half-million dollars a month.