Christian Business Sues Feds over Health Insurance Coverage for Morning-After Pill
A business whose owners consider themselves “evangelical Christians” is suing the Obama administration in federal court in Oklahoma, claiming that the Affordable Care Act mandate that employer-provided health insurance include coverage for contraceptives, including the “morning-after” pill, the “week-after” pill and the IUD, is contrary to their religious beliefs and violates their First Amendment right to free exercise of religion.
Family-owned Hobby Lobby Stores, Christian-themed retailer Mardel and five members of the Green family, which founded the companies, are named plaintiffs in the case, filed in Federal Court in Oklahoma City. Hobby Lobby is refusing to provide health insurance coverage for what its owners believe are “abortion-causing drugs and devices,” and wants the court to strike the down the statute or exempt them from the fines and other penalties it levies on violators.
“The Green family believes they are obligated to run their businesses in accordance with their faith,” the complaint reads. “Commitment to Jesus Christ and to Biblical principles is what gives their business endeavors meaning and purpose.” The complaint contends that “The mandate illegally and unconstitutionally coerces the Green family to violate their deeply held religious beliefs under threat of heavy fines, penalties and lawsuits.”
Despite these concerns, the lawsuit runs counter to the long-standing Constitutional principle that generally applicable, otherwise valid laws that happen to burden the members of some religious group more than others do not violate the First Amendment right of free exercise. The case of Oregon v. Smith (1990) emphasized the radical character of the rule now advocated by Hobby Lobby:
“To make an individual’s obligation to obey such a law contingent upon the law’s coincidence with his religious beliefs, except where the State's interest is ‘compelling’–permitting him, by virtue of his beliefs, ‘to become a law unto himself,’ contradicts both constitutional tradition and common sense. To adopt a true ‘compelling interest’ requirement for laws that affect religious practice would lead towards anarchy.”
The opinion in Oregon was written by conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.
To Learn More:
Hobby Lobby Sues Over Obamacare (by David Lee, Courthouse News Service)
Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius (Okla., 2012) (pdf)
Rep. Issa Opens Hearing about Contraception Coverage with All-Male Panel (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)
Obama Administration Orders Insurers to Cover Contraceptives (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)
- Top Stories
- Unusual News
- Where is the Money Going?
- U.S. and the World
- Appointments and Resignations
- Latest News
- U.S. Security Company Seeks Dismissal of Abu Ghraib Torture Charges because Victims were not Allowed to Leave Iraq
- 5 Biggest Banks Gain another Victory in Control of $700 Trillion Derivatives Market
- Is Living in the United States Bad for Your Health?
- Is FBI Running out of Time to Solve Civil Rights Era Cold Cases?
- Alabama City Told Traffic Camera Violators to Appeal to Non-Existent Court