Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., will decide the question of whether employers of a certain size have to provide healthcare for their employees and cover all forms of contraception at no cost. The owners of the company have said they don’t have a problem with most forms of birth control. The company doesn’t want to cover intrauterine devices (IUDs), or the so-called “morning-after pills,” because they allegedly end life after conception.
The company is reportedly asking to know if they can exercise their religious rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a federal law passed more than 20 years ago, which states the government cannot substantially burden a person’s religious freedom even if the burden comes from a rule that’s applied generally. Of course, the First Amendment to the Constitution has prohibitions against stopping people freely exercising their religious beliefs.
Hobby Lobby is far from the only company interested in the outcome of this case. A split exists between federal appeals courts on the issue of whether or not employers have to cover birth control. Dozens of cases have been filed on the issue. And this isn’t the first time the Affordable Care Act has been before the Supreme Court.
If the challengers win, this could result in a doughnut hole in the middle of the contraceptive mandate in the law. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., which has its headquarters in Oklahoma City, is betting the Supreme Court will determine that their religious objections to certain forms of birth control will be upheld.
In this case, the corporation is run by members of the Green family, who run the 500-location chain of craft supply stores and a chain of Christian book stores. They say the run the business according to Christian principals – they close on Sunday, advertise their Christianity, and play Christian music in their stores. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals found that a business can act according to principals of faith. However, another district found the owners chose the corporate form of doing business, which creates a separation between the owners of a business and the business itself.