Court may weigh in on challenge to Obamacare over contraceptives
The U.S. Supreme Court is set to decide Tuesday whether it will hear the Obama administration’s appeal of Hobby Lobby’s challenge to the contraceptive mandate in the health-care law.
The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Hobby Lobby, a chain of crafts stores, closes Sundays, costing its owners millions but honoring their Christian faith. Employees get free spiritual counseling, but they do not get free insurance coverage for some contraceptives, even though President Obama’s health-care law requires it.
Hobby Lobby, a corporation, says forcing it to provide the coverage would violate its religious beliefs. A federal appeals court agreed, and the Supreme Court is set to decide Tuesday whether it will hear the Obama administration’s appeal from that decision or appeals from one of several related cases.
Legal experts say the court is all but certain to step in.
“The stakes here ... are very high,” said Douglas Laycock, a law professor at the University of Virginia, citing the clash between religious teachings and the administration’s health-care law.
In weighing those interests, the high court would have to assess the limits of a principle recognized in its 2010 decision in Citizens United, which said corporations have free-speech rights under the First Amendment. The question now is whether corporations also have the right to religious liberty.
In ruling for Hobby Lobby, Judge Timothy Tymkovich — writing for the majority of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver — said: “We see no reason the Supreme Court would recognize constitutional protection for a corporation’s political expression but not its religious expression.”
Hobby Lobby was founded in 1970 in Oklahoma City by David Green and has more than 500 stores nationwide and 13,000 employees of all sorts of faiths. Green and his family own Hobby Lobby through a privately held corporation.
The Greens told the justices in their brief that some drugs and devices that can prevent embryos from implanting in the womb are tantamount to abortion and that providing insurance coverage for those forms of contraception would make the company and its owners complicit in the practice. They said they had no objection to 16 other forms of contraception, including condoms, diaphragms, some birth-control pills and sterilization surgery.