Will The Supreme Court Protect Hobby Lobby From the HHS Mandate?

National   Steven Ertelt   Jun 17, 2014   |   1:01PM    Washington, DC

The Supreme Court decision in the monumental Hobby Lobby case against the abortion mandate in Obamacare is expected either this week or next.

The Obama administration is attempting to make Hobby Lobby and thousands of pro-life businesses and organizations comply with the HHS mandate that compels religious companies to pay for birth control and abortion-causing drugs for their employees. However, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., a landmark case addressing the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of business owners to operate their family companies without violating their deeply held religious convictions.

Kristina Arriaga, Executive Director of the Becket Fund, the legal group heading up the lawsuit against the mandate for Hobby Lobby, talked about what to expect.

hobbylobby3“We are expecting the Hobby Lobby decision any day now,” she said in an email to LifeNews. “In fact, we have been holding our collective breath for the last several weeks as the Supreme Court issues its Monday opinions.”

“As of today, according to several longtime observers of the Court, the expectation is that additional days will be added to the opinion calendar. We suspect that Monday, June 23, will be followed by several other days of announcements; and then, we will hear later that same week. Until then, we wait,” she added.

Arriaga says the decision is a long time coming.

“I think it is inherently unjust that the government has forced the Green family, the devout owners of Hobby Lobby, to face a two-year battle in court,” she explained. “As you know, the Greens grew their family business out of their garage. They now own stores in 41 states employing more than 16,000 full time employees. They have always operated their business according to their faith. In fact, the Greens pay salaries that start at twice the minimum wage and offer excellent benefits, as well as a healthcare package which includes almost all of the contraceptives now mandated by the Affordable Care Act. Their only objection is to 4 drugs and devices which, the government itself concedes, can terminate an embryo.”

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“Their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act should be protected by the government. Instead, the government has threatened them with fines and fought them all the way to the Supreme Court,” Arriaga added.

“The government has already exempted tens of millions of Americans from complying with the mandate that forces employers to provide certain specific drugs and devices. However, it refuses to accommodate the Green family because the Green family’s objections are religious.  We believe that the government’s position is not only extreme and unconstitutional; it presents a grave danger to our freedoms,” she continued.

The Obama administration says it is confident it will prevail, saying, “We believe this requirement is lawful…and are confident the Supreme Court will agree.”

“My family and I are encouraged that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide our case,” said Mr. Green, Hobby Lobby’s founder and CEO.  “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.”

The Supreme Court is also taking the case of the Mennonite cabinet makers forced to pay for birth control and abortion-causing drugs.

In July, a federal court granted Hobby Lobby a preliminary injunction against the HHS abortion-drug mandate. The injunction prevented the Obama administration from enforcing the mandate against the Christian company, but the Obama administration appealed that ruling recently. The government’s appeal makes it highly likely that the Supreme Court will decide the issue in the upcoming term.

After the appeals court ruling, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton issued a preliminary injunction and stayed the case until Oct. 1 to give the Obama administration time to appeal the decision.

In an opinion read from the bench, the court said, “There is a substantial public interest in ensuring that no individual or corporation has their legs cut out from under them while these difficult issues are resolved.”

Duncan says there are now 63 separate lawsuits challenging the HHS mandate. The Becket Fund led the charge against the unconstitutional HHS mandate. The Becket Fund currently represents: Hobby Lobby, Wheaton College, East Texas Baptist University, Houston Baptist University, Colorado Christian University, the Eternal Word Television Network, Ave Maria University, and Belmont Abbey College.

Hobby Lobby could have paid as much as $1.3 million each day in fines for refusing to pay for birth control or abortion-causing drugs under the mandate.

A December 2013 Rasmussen Reports poll shows Americans disagree with forcing companies like Hobby Lobby to obey the mandate.

“Half of voters now oppose a government requirement that employers provide health insurance with free contraceptives for their female employees,” Rasmussen reports.

The poll found: “The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 38% of Likely U.S. Voters still believe businesses should be required by law to provide health insurance that covers all government-approved contraceptives for women without co-payments or other charges to the patient.

Fifty-one percent (51%) disagree and say employers should not be required to provide health insurance with this type of coverage. Eleven percent (11%) are not sure.”

Another recent poll found 59 percent of Americans disagree with the mandate.