|Hobby Lobby gets day in Supreme Court|
|Written by Jeremy Burns|
|Monday, 24 March 2014 11:54 AM EDT|
The battle between the Hobby Lobby arts and crafts chain and the Obamacare employer mandate reaches the U.S. Supreme Court tomorrow.
“It has major significance for religious liberty” and “for what constitutional rights business owners can claim,” said Joshua Hawley, a lawyer for Hobby Lobby’s legal team, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
Owners of Hobby Lobby and Mardel Christian & Education, the Green family believes that a requirement of the Obamacare employer mandate is a violation of their religious beliefs. The healthcare law requires employers to provide health insurance covering a wide range of contraceptives, including four that are abortifacient.
Hobby Lobby’s existing employee health insurance plan offers 16 different contraceptives, but the owners take issue with the law’s requirement for the other methods, which the Green family believes are tantamount to abortion.
Though some exemptions have been granted to churches and other religious bodies, nonprofit organizations and for-profit companies are required to comply with the mandate regardless of the owners’ religious convictions.
If Hobby Lobby loses the case, the company will be forced to pay non-compliance fines of up to $1.3 million per day.
Business owners across the nation are watching this case as its religious freedom implications could extend beyond the healthcare law.
Hobby Lobby’s co-defendant in the Supreme Court case, Conestoga Wood Specialties, is owned by members of the Hahn family, who are Mennonite.
In the divided opinion that ruled against Conestoga Wood, the Third Circuit Court stated that for-profit, secular organizations “cannot engage in religious exercise. Meanwhile, the 10th Circuit Court decision that ruled for Hobby Lobby ruled corporations “can be ‘persons’ exercising religion for purposes” of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
“Business owners have a right to run their businesses in accord with their religious convictions just like everyone else,” Hawley said.
The court is expected to issue a decision before the end of the current term in July.