Last Updated:July 27 @ 05:01 pm

U.S. Supreme Court to hear Hobby Lobby challenge to religious freedom limits

By Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City)

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to determine whether Hobby Lobby and a Pennsylvania furniture company can deny their employees federally required birth control coverage that violates the religious beliefs of the company owners.

The high court justices accepted cases that have received conflicting decisions in federal appeals courts. Through the cases, the justices could determine whether the for-profit companies have the constitutional right and the leeway under a federal law to reject the birth control mandate that is part of the Affordable Care Act.

A decision on the mandate -- which has been challenged in dozens of cases nationwide -- is expected some time before the court's term ends in June. Experts on both sides of the issue predicted Tuesday that the case could ultimately have far-reaching implications for religious freedom and health care coverage.

Hobby Lobby, a nationwide chain of crafts stores based in Oklahoma City, is owned by David Green and his family and operated according to the family's Christian beliefs.

The company, and its related Christian bookstore chain, faced millions of dollars in potential fines for refusing to implement the birth control mandate but won a reprieve from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled in June that it could challenge the mandate on religious grounds.

Hobby Lobby and the U.S. Justice Department, which is defending the mandate, asked the high court to review the case.

Both sides react

"My family and I are encouraged that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide our case," Green, Hobby Lobby's founder and CEO, said Tuesday.

"This legal challenge has always remained about one thing and one thing only: the right of our family businesses to live out our sincere and deeply held religious convictions as guaranteed by the law and the Constitution. Business owners should not have to choose between violating their faith and violating the law."

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the birth control coverage mandate on companies with 50 or more employees was legal and "designed to ensure that health care decisions are made between a woman and her doctor."

"The president believes that no one, including the government or for-profit corporations, should be able to dictate those decisions to women. The administration has already acted to ensure no church or similar religious institution will be forced to provide contraception coverage and has made a commonsense accommodation for nonprofit religious organizations that object to contraception on religious grounds."

Conflicting decisions

Hobby Lobby doesn't object to all of the contraceptives mandated for coverage, only those that prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg, such as the morning-after pill and intrauterine devices.

The Hobby Lobby case was appealed to the Supreme Court by the Justice Department under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a 1993 law that prevents the government from imposing a "substantial burden" on a person trying to exercise his religion.

In the Hobby Lobby case, the 10th Circuit court ruled that a for-profit corporation's First Amendment rights could be protected just an individual's rights, and it pointed to a recent U.S. Supreme Court case that allowed corporations to donate to political campaigns.

However, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals reached the opposite conclusion in a Pennsylvania case and ruled against a company owned by a Mennonite Christian family.

The company, which makes kitchen cabinets under the name of Conestoga Wood Specialties, appealed to the Supreme Court and raised First Amendment arguments, in addition to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act arguments raised in the Hobby Lobby case.

Major implications

This will be the second major challenge to the Affordable Care Act considered by the high court. In 2012, the court upheld the act's mandate on individuals to purchase insurance but struck down the requirement that states expand their Medicaid rolls.

Supporters of the birth control mandate said a ruling for Hobby Lobby would allow employers to discriminate against women and would be a "slippery slope" in regard to other health care coverage.

Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said, "If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the corporations, the ruling will open the door to businesses denying coverage, based on their owners' personal beliefs, for a whole host of other medical procedures to which their employees are entitled -- procedures and treatments like vaccines, surgeries, blood transfusions, or mental health care."

Russell D. Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, called the case "the most important religious liberty question in recent years."

He said, "What's at stake in this case is whether or not the Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion ... Religious liberty is given to us by God and is inalienable. Let's pray for the justices as they think through this monumentally important case."

___

(c)2013 The Oklahoman

Visit The Oklahoman at www.newsok.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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10 Comments

  1. Pingback: Spartanburg Tea Party » U.S. Supreme Court to hear Hobby Lobby challenge

  2. inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
    November 27, 2013 @ 8:41 am

    As far as I am concerned, any women who claims the right to control her body but cannot, or refuses to afford the $8.00/month in birth control pills to exercise her claimed right to control, is a child in an adult body out of control, who has lost control and is unfit for any of the rights of a SELF-governing people. Children in adult bodies are as unfit for the right to vote as the actual children in children’s bodies. There ought to be a law to prevent the irresponsible children of all ages from obviating the votes of real adults.

    Politicians can use whatever legal verbage they want to confuse the issue, but it is not about freedom of religion, it is about who is fit to rule a country designed for self government,,,,In my mind it is only those with the ability to first govern self,,,in SELF sufficiency which always COLLECTIVELY leads to the abilty of a self governing people to succeed. But success is not what the Democrats seek in their dependency offers, it is POWER over the people in the economic and moral salvery of being dependent upon THEY, who are the real enemy of our freedoms in the dependencies of the tainted fruit that they offer. Every instance of surrendering to the government those things that you should be doing for yourself passes power from the individual to the collective, and the collective does not always have the best interests of the individual at heart,,,,just more power to dictate, which by definition becomes a dictatorship of the oppressive collective ruled and run by the corrupt power seeking few.

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    • sumitchComment by sumitch
      November 27, 2013 @ 9:54 am

      “the birth control coverage mandate on companies with 50 or more employees was legal and “designed to ensure that health care decisions are made between a woman and her doctor.”
      “Snake” Carry – 2013.

      I wonder how long it will be until we see Obama’s version of the perfect Arian race?

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    • usafoldsargeComment by usafoldsarge
      November 27, 2013 @ 10:13 am

      I don’t believe that we dumb ordinary, substandard people should have to pay for some one else’s recreational sex. Many years ago, my then wife (62 years ago) knew of a suppository that acted as a spermicide, plus normally, no sex during ovulation. Nor do I believe we should be paying for erection aids for horney old men. I know, Viagra was designed for another purpose and the erection was a side effect. This side effect is the cause of over 95% of sales. So, you men, if you take any of the Viagra style meds for other than its original purpose, you should help pay for the teenager’s safe playground sex….. Yes, Sandra Fluke is a teenager in mind anyways

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    • sumitchComment by sumitch
      November 27, 2013 @ 10:13 am

      Looks more to me that the decision is made by the government and neither the woman nor the doctor have any say in the matter.

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    • sumitchComment by sumitch
      November 27, 2013 @ 10:23 am

      inluminatuo, I normally agree with you on most matters but not this time. It seems to me that you are trying to force your religious beliefs, which beliefs are certainly your right, on others by refusing them the right to vote if they don’t agree with you.

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    • inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
      November 27, 2013 @ 12:06 pm

      “the birth control coverage mandate on companies with 50 or more employees was legal and “designed to ensure that health care decisions are made between a woman and her doctor.”

      So if this be true, just how did the AMERICAN TAXPAYER get sandwitched betweem the women who decides and the doctor who gets paid. Proof positive that all these Democrats have to offer is more SELFISHNESS,,,,never SELF GOVERNMENT or encouraging women to stand tall in the governing of themselves and the products of their bodies whose irresponsibly born children, sans father are thrown upon the mercy of the state who only appears to offer mercy but is more interested in more dependency and power over those they ensare in dependency to THEM. Enter the Liberal age of the social parasite lead by the head cockroach himself whose incompetency never feeds the poor, just poorly feeds his party of parasites and anyone who ends up believing the false promises he is incapable of delivering the goods on.,,,Witness Obamacare which cares nothing about the individual they ensnare, just the money they can redistibute to themselves and their collective of losers in one more socialist power grab to control.

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  3. Pingback: U.S. Supreme Court to hear Hobby Lobby challenge to religious freedom limits. | Chris Campbell

  4. ragweedComment by ragweed
    November 27, 2013 @ 9:59 am

    Not to worry. Roberts will side with the leftoids on the supreme court to pass all the O’Bama thingees. Roberts is the second coming of Earl Warren….

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    • sumitchComment by sumitch
      November 27, 2013 @ 10:33 am

      At first I thought that Obama had made a mistake in the Roberts selection. On second glance it looks like I made the mistake. I wonder how he’s going to re-write this case so Obama wins.

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  5. thomasjeffersonComment by thomasjefferson
    November 27, 2013 @ 2:50 pm

    get it right this time. You will have to be responsible for your actions. You will be taken to task if you do not start judging cases based on the Constitution and Not your political leaning.

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  6. FreeDameComment by FreeDame
    November 30, 2013 @ 1:08 pm

    If Congress had been interested in REAL insurance reform (Obamacare isn’t about health care, it’s about insurance – okay, it’s about control, but that’s another argument,) they would have done away with the tax exemption for COMPANIES ONLY, allowed individuals a tax deduction for the cost of insurance, and then allowed individuals to select the insurance that conforms to their needs and/or religious views. This question of “discrimination against women” by Corporate America (which is more Liberal propaganda) would never come up.

    But as noted above, this isn’t about health care OR insurance, it’s about government control of the “peasants.”

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