Obamacare officially has another Supreme Court challenge pending against it.
The Supreme Court justices announced Tuesday that they will hear the case against Obamacare’s contraception mandate. The justices will consider whether businesses whose owners oppose birth control or abortion on religious grounds are subject to the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that health-insurance plans must include free contraception coverage.
The case in question centers around craft chain Hobby Lobby, founded and owned by David Green and his family. The Green family, represented by the conservative Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, objects to four of the 20 contraceptives that must be covered at no cost to employees by their health plan.
“My family and I are encouraged that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide our case,” Green said in a statement. “This legal challenge has always remained about one thing only: the right of our family businesses to live out our sincere and deeply held religious convictions are guaranteed by the law and the Constitution.”
While for-profit corporations have not historically been given the same rights to free exercise of religion as individuals, they were granted another First Amendment right to free speech in the controversial 2010 Citizens United decision.
The Hobby Lobby lawsuit is seen by some as particularly strong due to the Green family’s already-established history of embedding religion into its business practices. Stores are closed Sundays and don’t sell shot glasses, which could promote alcohol, and a chunk of profits are donated to ministries annually.
Another part of maintaining the same commitment to religious principles, according to the family, is providing health-care policies that don’t cover care that is capable of terminating pregnancies — including the morning-after pill, or Plan B, which Obamacare makes mandatory in all employer-based insurance plans.
Were the company to opt simply to pay the fine for not providing the coverage, the $100 per day per employee rate would cost Hobby Lobby $475 million annually; dropping their insurance coverage in protest would amount to a drastically lower fine of just $26 million.
The Green family won in the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals just over a month ago, but the Department of Justice fought back, appealing to the Supreme Court. The Greens feel so strongly that their case should be heard, however, they agreed — take it to the court.
The Hobby Lobby lawsuit is one of 84 different cases against the contraception mandate being fought in courts across the country, but White House Press Secretary Jay Carney expressed confidence in the Obama administration’s chances of beating the first one to get to the Supreme Court. “We believe this requirement is lawful and essential to women’s health and are confident the Supreme Court will agree,” Carney said Tuesday.
“These steps protect both women’s health and religious beliefs, and seek to ensure that women and families — not their bosses or corporate CEOs — can make personal health decisions based on their needs and budgets.”
Green disagrees. “Business owners should not have to choose between violating their faith and violating the law,” the business owner concluded.
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