INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) — Bill Grote jumped out of his chair when he saw a television report the day the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision regarding Burrell v. Hobby Lobby.
The high court June 30 ruled in a 5-4 decision that closely held companies cannot be forced to abide by the federal Health and Human Service’s mandate that requires nearly all employers to provide abortion-inducing drugs, elective sterilizations and contraceptives to their employees free of charge if the individual or families that own these businesses have religious objections to the mandate.
Bill Grote is a member of a family that owns such a business. Since 1901, the Grote family has owned the Madison, Indiana-based Grote Industries, a global manufacturer of commercial vehicle lighting products. Last fall, the Catholic family was granted relief from the mandate by the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.
A day after its Hobby Lobby decision, the Supreme Court kicked back to lower courts six related cases involving companies whose Catholic owners have similar objections. One of those cases was the one involving the Grote family — the high court declined to review the 7th Circuit’s ruling in the case.
“I jumped up out of my chair,” Bill said a few hours after the news of the Hobby Lobby ruling. “My wife, Terry, was in the room. I gave her a hug and a big smile. It’s a wonderful day.”
Son Dominic Grote was busy at work June 30 when the announcement came.
“I either got a phone call right away from Dad or someone sent me a text message,” he told The Criterion, newspaper of the Indianapolis Archdiocese. “Then all of the emails and texts started rolling in. I was really happy. I was elated.”
The Grotes have 1,200 employees globally, including 500 in Madison.
“Today’s (Hobby Lobby) ruling removes the great burden of the thoughts that were going through our minds as to what our alternatives and choices were if it was a negative ruling,” said Bill Grote. “This is received with great relief. It allows us to continue to grow our business and grow our employees. As we grow, we certainly support the community of Madison and our parish community.”
Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin saw the Hobby Lobby ruling in the context of the theme of service the U.S. chose for the now-completed Fortnight for Freedom observance.
“A good Catholic businesswoman or businessman realizes that their faith has to inform the way they run their business,” Archbishop Tobin said. “This ruling means that Catholics can stay in business and contribute to the good of the human family.”
Glenn Tebbe, executive director of the Indiana Catholic Conference and the public policy spokesperson for Indiana’s bishops, was also pleased with the June 30 ruling.
“It certainly is a good day for all Catholics and particularly business owners,” Tebbe said. “It’s a narrow ruling. But it will have broad application for many, many families and businesspeople in Indiana and throughout the nation.”
In addition to the mandate case involving closely held for-profit businesses such as Hobby Lobby and Grote Industries, other cases involving nonprofit religious institutions are still making their way through the federal courts.
Several Catholic schools, universities, charitable agencies and dioceses, including the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend in northern Indiana, are parties in these legal actions. The group includes Our Sunday Visitor in Huntington as well.
In Illinois, Christopher and Mary Anne Yep also cheered the Hobby Lobby ruling. The Yeps’ family owns Triune Health based in Oak Brook and they object on moral grounds to complying with the contraceptive mandate.
“It’s a victory for the whole country,” Mary Anne Yep told the Catholic New World, Chicago’s archdiocesan newspaper.
“We’re very excited to see this decision that came down and to see things going in a positive direction,” said Christopher Yep, Truine’s president and CEO. Mary Anne is vice president and chief personnel officer.
But they said they still don’t feel secure, because the Hobby Lobby decision was narrowly drawn.
In Indiana, Tebbe was optimistic about the ultimate outcome of the many cases challenging the mandate.
“When those cases reach the Supreme Court — and I think that they probably will — we have reason to be hopeful that the outcome will be as strong as this one, or maybe even stronger,” he said.
Whatever the ruling might be in those future cases, Dominic Grote will look back on June 30, 2014, as a “defining moment” in the history of his family’s business that now stretches across four generations.
“You take a stand for what you believe in,” Dominic said. “And it reflects a lot of the different values that we talk about with our employees and our customers. It’s a clear example of integrity, of family, of faith and community, which are all part of our values.
“It’s how we want to live our lives.”
Gallagher is a reporter at The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Michelle Martin in Chicago contributed to this story.