Conestoga CEO: ‘We Didn’t Choose This Fight… Government Forced Our Hand’

By Melanie Arter | March 25, 2014 | 2:31 PM EDT

U.S. Supreme Court (AP Photo)

( – Anthony Hahn, president and CEO of Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate said Tuesday outside the U.S. Supreme Court that his family “didn’t choose this fight” - the government forced their hand.

“We didn’t choose this fight. Our families would have been happy to just continue providing good jobs and generous health care benefits, but the government forced our hand,” said Hahn, adding that instead of sacrificing his family’s “obedience to God,” they and many others “have chosen to take a stand to defend life and freedom against government coercion.”

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday on Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius – two cases that were consolidated into one to challenge the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act that would force employers to provide contraceptives and abortifacients to its employees in their health care plans.

“Since my family first opened Conestoga Woods Specialties in my dad’s garage 50 years ago, we sought to glorify God, not only in the quality and craftsmanship of our products, but by the principles that inspire our lives everyday. We believe in hard work, good citizenship, and the dignity of our customers and our employees who are all created in God’s image,” said Hahn.

“We never thought we’d see a day when the government would tell our family we could no longer run our business in way that affirmed the sanctity of human life when the government would actually force us to be complicit to the potential destruction of human life, but sadly that day has come,” he added.

“This is not about a corporation – a nameless, faceless organization,” said Dave Cortman, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, who represented Conestoga in the case.

Cortman said the case was about a family who has been “pillars of their community for over 50 years, of providing jobs to men and women with good benefits and good insurance coverage. And this is something that they don’t separate when they go to work during the week,” he said outside the courthouse.

“This abortion pill mandate is an unprecedented intrusion in a private family business where the government dictates at the cost of severe and crippling fines and penalties that people should violate their sincerely held religious beliefs when they decide to make a living,” said Cortman.

“I’m pretty sure that when all of us make a living, we don’t forfeit our constitutional rights or our statutory free exercise rights, and neither should the Hahns,” he added.

Also on hand was Barbara Green, co-founder of Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., the other plaintiff in the case.

“The choice that the government has forced on us is unfair and not in keeping with the history of our great nation founded on religious freedom,” said Green, who added that encouraged by Tuesday’s arguments.

Lori Windham, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represented Hobby Lobby, said the case “poses a critically important question: Do Americans give up their religious freedom when they open a family business?”

“The justices seem deeply skeptical of the government’s arguments that Americans who open a closely held family business give up their right to religious freedom and can be subject to whatever the government mandates that they do,” said Windham.

“The Green family has long operated Hobby Lobby consistently with its religious beliefs and religious principles. They hope to be able to continue to operate Hobby Lobby consistent with their religious beliefs, and we are hopeful that a good decision later this term will allow them to do that,” she added.