Hobby Lobby asks Supreme Court for exemption to Obamacare mandate
WASHINGTON D.C. — Hobby Lobby filed a briefing Monday asking the U.S. Supreme Court for an exemption to the requirement under the Affordable Care Act that certain for-profit corporations provide contraception coverage to their workers.
Ahead of oral arguments next month, the craft store giant is seeking exclusion on religious grounds from the healthcare law’s requirements, maintaining that some contraceptive products, like the morning after pill, equate to abortion.
Oral arguments for the case, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, begin March 25. The issue is whether secular, private corporations can claim religious exemption from federal laws.
Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., nationwide chain of about 500 arts and crafts stores with about 13,000 employees, was started by David and Barbara Green, devoted Christians, who maintain that the stores, which are closed on Sundays, remain consistent with their biblical practices.
The Greens’ object to contraceptives like the morning after pill, which they say amounts to abortion and, therefore, violates their faith, but are not opposed to all forms of contraception – such as condoms and diaphragms.
The store estimated that they would face $1.3 million a day fine beginning January 1 for noncompliance with the healthcare law after failing to receive temporary relief from the fines from the Supreme Court last year.
Lead attorney for Hobby Lobby Kyle Duncan, of the non-profit Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, announced a press briefing discussing the case after filing with the Supreme Court.
“Hobby Lobby’s latest brief brings into even sharper focus the issue at the heart of this landmark case: No one should be forced to give up their constitutionally protected civil rights just to go into business,” Duncan said in a statement.
“The filing demonstrates in no uncertain terms that the government’s efforts to strip this family business of its religious rights represent a gross violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will uphold the Tenth Circuit’s strong affirmation of the Greens’ rights to live out their deeply held beliefs in every aspect of their business.”
The Becket Fund also represents the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic charity for the elderly run by nuns, which also filed an appeal to the contraception portion of the law.
While churches and houses of worship are exempt from the mandate, other non-profit, religious-affiliate groups, like church-run hospitals and parochial schools, are still required to either themselves provide contraception coverage or have a third part insurer provide the benefits without the employer’s involvement.
Companies like Hobby Lobby are not exempt under the law.
President Barack Obama’s sweeping healthcare law has been the subject of political and religious controversy, specifically the contraception requirements. Nearly 50 pending lawsuits have been filed in federal court from various corporations challenging the birth control coverage under Obamacare.
CNN’s Bill Mears and Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.