Hobby Lobby awaits Supreme Court contraception decision Print
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Wednesday, 14 May 2014 08:29 AM America/New_York

James Dobson’s Family Talk organization wins similar healthcare case in U.S. District Court

HobbyLobbyPrayerThe Hobby Lobby arts-and-crafts giant and sister company Mardel Christian & Education await a Supreme Court decision in the historic Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores case. The court is expected to rule on the case before the end of its term in June after hearing oral arguments March 25 in the case that addresses the rights of business owners to operate their family-owned companies without violating their religious convictions.

The court combined the hearing of two similar cases brought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, who both challenged the Health & Human Services (HHS) Mandate that would force them to pay for abortion pills or face substantial daily fines.

Former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement argued on behalf of the companies, stating that they are protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The principal lawyers in the case, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli for the Obama administration and Clement for Hobby Lobby and Conestoga argued against each other in another Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) case in 2012. In that case, the justices upheld by a 5-4 vote the constitutionality of the aspect of the law that requires people to purchase health insurance.

“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,” Hobby Lobby’s Barbara Green said in a video taken with her husband, David Green. “We believe that Americans don’t lose their religious freedom when they open a family business. We were encouraged by today’s arguments. We are thankful that the Supreme Court has heard our case, and we prayerfully await the justices’ decision.”

The Greens do not object to providing 16 of the 20 contraceptives under the HHS mandate and will continue to provide contraceptives at no additional cost to their employees.

In the meantime, a lower court favored Dr. James Dobson and his Family Talk organization in a related healthcare case. 

Family Talk won a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the Obamacare employer mandate. Fighting the same contraception-coverage requirements that Hobby Lobby is protesting, Dobson won the injunction before the U.S. District Court of Colorado, where Family Talk is headquartered.

“In America, we don’t try to separate what people do from what they believe,” Kevin Theriot, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, said of the case. “Faith-based organizations should be free to operate according to the faith they teach and live out every day. If the government can fine Christian ministries out of existence because they want to uphold their faith, there is no limit to what other freedoms it can take away. The court was right to block enforcement of this unconstitutional mandate against Family Talk.”

Judge Robert E. Blackburn stated in his decision that “there is a substantial likelihood that the plaintiffs can show the ACA [Affordable Care Act] and the regulations constitute a substantial burden on the exercise of their religion.”

Blackburn also cited Hobby Lobby’s lower court victories as precedent for Dobson’s legal standing in bringing the case, stating that it is “directly analogous to Hobby Lobby [v. Sebelius].”