Hobby Lobby asks Supreme Court for exemption to Obamacare mandate
February 10th, 2014
02:15 PM ET
6 years ago

Hobby Lobby asks Supreme Court for exemption to Obamacare mandate

(CNN) –Hobby Lobby asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday 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 health care 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. They are devoted Christians, who maintain 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 a $1.3 million daily fine beginning January 1 for noncompliance with the health care law after failing to receive temporary relief from the fines from the Supreme Court last year.

Hobby Lobby lead attorney Kyle Duncan of the non-profit Becket Fund for Religious Liberty said its latest brief filed on Monday sharpens the issue.

“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 10th 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 party insurer provide the benefits without the employer's involvement.

For-profit companies like Hobby Lobby are not exempt under the law.

President Barack Obama's sweeping health care 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 birth control coverage under Obamacare.

CNN's Bill Mears and Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.


Filed under: Healthcare • Supreme Court
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Tampa Tim

    A corporation's rights now supersede the rights of an individual. This crap has to stop.

    February 10, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  2. TNPatriot

    Hobby Lobby is a corporation and therefore has no religious exemption. That is, unless the Koch brothers buy the SCOTUS again like they did with Citizens United.

    February 10, 2014 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  3. xray vision

    Leave it to the gop to try to repeal separation of church and state, why izit do difficult for people to see them for what they are? They will do ANYTHING to get control. Sick disgusting party, truly is .

    February 10, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  4. Winning

    One of these opened in my area, and although both my wife and me have purchasing needs that could be fulfilled here, we refuse to shop here because of this stance.

    February 10, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  5. no-none-sense

    I get that David and Barbara Green say they are devout christians but the Hobby Lobby is an Incorporated business and can not have a religion. The Hobby Lobby is not a person.
    What's to stop a jehovah witness that owns a business to sue so that any employees they may have can not have a blood transfusion?
    Unless you are running you business unincorporated and filing taxes with your SS# instead of a Tax ID Number then you can not use your religion against the Affordable Care Act

    February 10, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    Hobby Lobby and it's corporate entities are separate, for-profit entities that cannot have beliefs. Certain corporations whose existence is directly tied to belief and worship are exempted, and I'm totally open to adjusting that to some extent, but for-profit, non-charitable organizations that simply want to avoid the law by claiming that their founders/owners should be able to transmit their beliefs through their corporate entity, which has no core religious purpose and is just a profit machine like any other corporation, such that those beliefs are enforced on their employees...NO. They chose their business model, their corporate entity type, the desire to be for-profit and the desire to employ people within the context of the free market that prohibits religious affiliation as a hiring/firing factor, and the same principles should apply here. They had ample opportunity to choose non-profit, tax-exempt, charitable models that would have given them 501(c)(3) status and a legitimate claim that the corporation's religious mission is core to its existence and identity...but they did not.

    February 10, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  7. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    The Greens' object to contraceptives like the morning after pill, which they say amounts to abortion...

    Oh well, I suppose your faith is more important than your business succeeding or the welfare of your employees.

    February 10, 2014 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  8. Terry b

    Only those void of logic and/or common sense don't want birth control included in any health care insurance provision. Since it is common knowledge that nothing prevents the need for an abortion like the pill why would anyone be against such a fine thing?

    February 10, 2014 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  9. Warren

    It's call the separation of church and state. Do they pay taxes??

    February 10, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    "The issue is whether secular, private corporations can claim religious exemption from federal laws."
    -----------------------------------
    I don't understand how this law suit wasn't thrown out of court when it was first filed. This is a slippery slope for the SCOTUS to make a ruling in favor of the plaintiff. There is no case law that would justify someone claiming religious exemptions as an excuse for disregarding federal, state, and local laws. The SCOTUS should have rejected this case, or rule against the plaintiff on the grounds that there is nothing that exists to grant them such an exemption.

    February 10, 2014 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  11. Lac

    While the Green's are religious, they own a business that is not.
    I will no longer shop there.

    February 10, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Tampa Tim
    A corporation's rights now supersede the rights of an individual. This crap has to stop.
    --

    What rights do employees at will have to dictate what benefits companies have to pay for? You don't know what you are talking about.

    February 10, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  13. Wake up People!

    This is getting ridiculous. So any company can claim they shouldn't have to provide contraception coverage to their employees and get away with it? This is getting scary.

    February 10, 2014 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  14. PM Ohio

    I don't think that just because the founders of a public corporation are religious, the corporation should be exempt from the law. They have 13,000 employees, many of whom use contraception regularly and what about thier rights? Also, how can a company selectively object to some contraception and not others? What's next? Hobby Lobby and Chick Fil A, avoiding taxes because their founders are religious? Why would this case even be accepted by the Supreme Court? If they agree with Hobby Lobby, just think of all of the companies who will file for whatever religious reason they see fit. Please Supreme Court, do not open this can of worms for special interest groups...keep Church and State separate...besides they aren't even a church or affiliated to a church.

    February 10, 2014 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  15. Donna

    no-none-sense
    I get that David and Barbara Green say they are devout christians but the Hobby Lobby is an Incorporated business and can not have a religion. The Hobby Lobby is not a person.
    What's to stop a jehovah witness that owns a business to sue so that any employees they may have can not have a blood transfusion?
    --

    OK, enough with the lies lefties. This is NOT about telling people what medical procedure a person can and cannot have. It is about forcing OTHER people or entities to pay for medical procedures or birth control that violate religious beliefs

    People can do whatever they want, just don't ask that others be forced to pay for it.

    February 10, 2014 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  16. Silence DoGood

    And I suppose a Christian Science CEO can deny all medical treatment coverage then? And maybe next I can withhold some of my taxes because I think the military is too big? And maybe a white supremacist church can run a company hiring only whites?
    No, no, and no! Keep your religion out of my government!
    “The civil government functions with complete success by the total separation of the Church from the State.”
    ~James Madison, 1819,

    February 10, 2014 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  17. Silence DoGood

    “Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity.”
    ~Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, 1791

    February 10, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  18. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion?

    Tampa Tim
    A corporation's rights now supersede the rights of an individual. This crap has to stop.
    ------------------------------------–
    Sounds like tyranny and fascism to me.

    February 10, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  19. Fair is Fair

    Wake up People!

    This is getting ridiculous. So any company can claim they shouldn't have to provide contraception coverage to their employees and get away with it? This is getting scary.
    -------
    There's no law saying they have to provide ANY coverage at all. And I think that's exactly what's going to happen once the employer mandate kicks in – the majority of employers will just pay the fine. But, if you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance. Period.

    February 10, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  20. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Sounds like the 504 tax exempt scam from groups lick Carl rove runs and these political groups trying to duck paying taxes while they interfear in politics??????

    February 10, 2014 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    no-none-sense

    Unless you are running you business unincorporated and filing taxes with your SS# instead of a Tax ID Number then you can not use your religion against the Affordable Care Act
    ----------------------------------
    You should read up about how a LLC files its' taxes. Check out S-Corporations, too, while you're at it. Did you know that the multi-billion dollar Walmart empire is an S-Corporation because of the limited number of owners, which technically makes it a "small business"?

    February 10, 2014 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  22. Jessie

    I bet they don't care about a persons choice of birth control their using this issue to get out of providing a health Insurance for their many employees 2nd choice they will keep work hours at 20 a week to get out of the insurance issue.

    February 10, 2014 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    "What rights do employees at will have to dictate what benefits companies have to pay for?"

    Way to miss the issue, champ. Employees at will aren't who is telling them anything. Rather, the federal gov't is. This is a Commerce Clause and Health and Welfare Clause issue that touches on the 1st Amendment. Corporations are separate entities from their owners. Had those owners wished to make the corporation fundamentally religious in its mission and activities, there were ways to do that. They did not, and simply created a for-profit retail business. They therefore have not created a separate entity that has a fundamental religious "belief" that is being violated here. If the next step is watching these people file amended corporate papers trying to pretend that a for-profit business that does no charitable work, no religious work, cannot obtain tax exempt status under 501(c)(3) or qualify for other things only religious institutions, then I think they lose there too. Faking it shouldn't be good enough either. This is nothing more than a non-religious corporation engaged in commerce for a profit and enforcing this law on the corporate entity does not hamper, destroy or curtail this corporation's purpose in any way, shape or form.

    February 10, 2014 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  24. A J

    Any for-profit company whose officers or owners try to force their religious beliefs on their employees should not be exempt from any laws. Just imagine what would happen if this were a company whose officers or owners were Muslim, Buddhist, or any other non-Christian religion and tried to force their beliefs on their employees and demand exemption from certain laws.
    The outcry would be so loud that Pat Robertson and other zealots would be storming Congress to put an end to the US supporting heathens. Stop the insanity.
    The US has never been or ever will be a theological society, regardless of what religious zealots claim. If the US goes down this path our country risks becoming a theocratic society, much like Saudi Arabia or Iran.

    February 10, 2014 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  25. tom l

    I find it ironic that the very people on here that talk about repubs pushing their beliefs on others through the form of govt don't recognize that their stance is the exact same. You are pushing your beliefs on them. I know, I know. In your mind it's for the greater good. However, YOU are the imposer. YOU are the one forcing your beliefs on them. This isn't something new, by the way. They didn't all of the sudden find religion. They're closed on Sundays. The company has been known for its religious beliefs since its inception.

    February 10, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
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