As devout, peaceful Mennonites, the Hahns never imagined they would one day be fighting legal battles for the right to operate their business according to their faith.
Norman Hahn and his brothers started building kitchen cabinets out of their garage nearly 50 years ago, founding Conestoga Wood Specialties. His children took over the company, and today, the family has built a successful American business that employs around a thousand people.
Giving back to their community, taking care of their employees, and environmental stewardship are very important to the Hahns. Conestoga has helped many communities by sponsoring activities that include tree plantings, revitalization of ponds, providing financial support for summer camp programs, supplying books to school libraries about trees and conservation, and much more.
As a result of the HHS Mandate, the Hahns would be required to fund abortion-inducing drugs through their employees’ insurance. This violates their conscience, and the faith that has guided their business from the beginning. The family-owned company would be subject to staggering fines of $100 per day, per employee if they don’t obey the mandate.
Alliance Defending Freedom defended the Hahns all the way to the highest court of the nation. The Supreme Court heard the Hahn’s case, along with the Green family of Hobby Lobby, in the spring of 2014. On June 30, 2014, the Supreme Court granted victory to the Hahns in a landmark decision ruling that families do not have to surrender their religious freedom in order to remain in business.
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Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Burwell
What's at stake
- The freedom to operate a business according to your deeply held beliefs without the fear of being punished by the government.
- Christian businesses being forced to pay for abortion-inducing drugs in violation of their religious, pro-life beliefs.
The owners of Conestoga Wood Specialties, the Hahns, are a practicing Mennonite Christian family. They desire to run the company, a wholesale manufacturer of custom wood products, in a manner that reflects their sincerely held religious beliefs, including their belief that God requires respect for the sanctity of human life. But when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a mandate requiring businesses to offer insurance coverage for early abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception, the Hahn family faced an unavoidable dilemma. They must either violate their religious beliefs by providing the objectionable items, or they must pay staggering fines. With allied attorneys Chuck Proctor and Randy Wenger and the input of Alliance Defending Freedom, Conestoga Woods Specialties and the Hahn family filed a lawsuit challenging the abortion pill mandate.
Both the district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled against Conestoga Woods Specialties, holding that "corporations cannot engage in religious exercise" and that the burdens of the abortifacient mandate did not fall directly on the Hahns. Alliance Defending Freedom sought review by the U.S. Supreme Court, and on November 11, 2013, the Supreme Court agreed to review the case, along with a similar challenge brought by Hobby Lobby. Then on June 30, 2014, the Supreme Court granted victory to the Hahns in a landmark decision ruling that families do not have to surrender their religious freedom in order to remain in business.
Alliance Defending Freedom later won a permanent court order in October 2014 protecting Conestoga Woods Specialties, and is still fighting for other businesses and ministries who object to being forced to pay for abortion-inducing drugs.
Our role in this case
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and allied attorneys Chuck Proctor and Randall Wenger represented Conestoga Wood Specialties and the Hahns at their U.S. Supreme Court case challenging the abortion pill mandate. Proctor and Wenger filed the initial case with the input of Alliance Defending Freedom.