Hobby Lobby asked the Supreme Court to enjoin the government from imposing the contraception rule on their company next week. On Wednesday the Supreme Court declined the request. Friday, according to Oklahoma City’s “NEWSOK” Hobby Lobby announced it will not provide insurance for their employees that provides free contraception coverage. The rule implements a provision in the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare.
In other words they are going to defy the Court, defy the government, and defy the law.
Hobby Lobby, based in Oklahoma City, has 13,000 employees in 42 states. It is owned by the Green families who are Christians and oppose contraception on religious grounds.
The company filed suit in federal district court to exempt it from the law. At the September hearing the company’s attorneys argued that an exemption granted to churches and non-profit organizations affiliated with churches ought to apply to secular businesses also if contraception violates the owner’s religious beliefs.
The lower court disagreed saying that Hobby Lobby is a privately owned business not a church or an organization affiliated with a Church and therefore the religious exemption did not apply. The company decided to fight the matter all the way to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court Justice, who denied the injunction, Justice Sotomayor, did not opine on the merits of their argument but said the request did not meet the test for an emergency injunction. So, Hobby Lobby will simply break the law. In so doing they will be subject to fines that could be as much as $1.3 million dollars a day beginning Tuesday. That is quite a price to pay to make a statement.
“They’re not going to comply with the mandate,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel of The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing the company. “They’re not going to offer coverage for abortion-inducing drugs in the insurance plan.”
As for the potential fines, Duncan said, “We’re just going to have to cross that bridge when we come to it.”
Meanwhile a Boycott Hobby Lobby page has appeared on Facebook and it is attracting followers. It is likely that some woman’s health and worker’s rights groups will get involved in the boycott. However, as with the Chick Fil-A boycott, Christian groups may rally to Hobby Lobby’s defense and their sales may increase. Fox News and conservative commentators are already rallying behind the Green family.
Duncan said the company will continue its appeal in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where it is challenging U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton’s ruling that the retailers were “secular, for-profit corporations” and did not have free-exercise rights under the First Amendment. They are seeking a permanent injunction to block the law, which was found constitutional by the Supreme Court.
Duncan said Hobby Lobby and the Christian chain Mardel, a sister company owned by the Green family, will continue to provide their current health insurance to all its qualified employees. “To remain true to their faith, it is not their intention, as a company, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs,” Duncan said.
The Green Family is opposed to the contraception rule in part because they believe it will force them to provide abortion-inducing drugs. They specifically object to the morning-after pill, the week-after pill, and some intrauterine devices. “Our basic point is the government can’t put a corporation in the position of choosing between its faith and following the law,” the company’s attorney argued.
These drugs are actually not abortion inducing drugs, but that does not deter the company from its opposition anyway.
It will be interesting to see whether the Justice Department comes down hard on Hobby Lobby with fines, or holds off until their appeal is heard in Denver.
Contraception has been credited with the dropping abortion rates in the U.S. It is counterproductive for religious groups, who are opposed to abortion, to fight contraception. Studies have shown that abortions are far more frequent among young women who cannot afford or who do not have access to contraception.
So, we will see what happens next week.
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