- First, does Hobby Lobby, the corporation, have religious rights protected by the First Amendment?
- Second, if the corporation does have religious rights, have those rights been violated under a 20-year-old statute that sets a high bar for government interference when it comes to protecting religious freedom?
WASHINGTON (RNS) The Green family that owns the Hobby Lobby craft store chain believes the federal government ran roughshod over their religious liberties when the Affordable Care Act required their company to cover the full range of birth control options in employee health plans.As Christians, the Greens argued, they could not comply. In their view, four of those birth control methods can cause abortion, though many major medical voices disagree. On Tuesday (March 25) the Supreme Court will hear the case. Combining fundamental questions of religious rights, corporate rights, Obamacare and abortion, the case is, for many people, the most important the Supreme Court will decide this year. It will be bundled with a similar lawsuit filed by the Mennonite owners of a wood cabinetry corporation who hold views similar to those of the Greens. “The government is forcing us to choose between following our faith and following the law,” wrote David Green, the CEO and founder of Hobby Lobby. “I say that’s a choice no American and no American business should have to make.” Supporters of the so-called contraception mandate fear that a victory for the plaintiffs could prompt businesses to flout any number of laws by claiming a violation of religious freedom. They ask: What about a woman’s right to be covered for the full array of birth control options available through the Affordable Care Act? Is it really the company’s right to decide that the only drugs and medical procedures they’ll cover are the ones that conform to the owner’s personal faith? Administration supporters also argue that Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. claim religious rights the Constitution bestows on individuals, not corporations. “It’s easy to be sympathetic to the devout individual business owners behind the corporations in these cases,” said Elizabeth B. Wydra, of the left-leaning Constitutional Accountability Center. “But their rights are not implicated by the Affordable Care Act’s contraception provisions.”