The Supreme Court is set to make a decision in the famous Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby case by June 30 before it lets out for the summer, and religious employers are poised to see whether they will be allowed an exemption for their beliefs. Adele Keim of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), and Heritage policy analyst Sarah Torre discussed the implications of the HHS mandate and the case at a Thursday event co-hosted by the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute and the Heritage Foundation.
Keim began the discussion by describing the background of the Hobby Lobby case. David and Barbara Green, the founders of the Hobby Lobby store chain, are devout Christians who object to the mandate because of its provision for companies to include the morning-after pill in the healthcare plans.
"Religious liberty is a human right, and all people deserve it," Keim said.
Keim explained that those against the HHS mandate are winning. In for-profit cases, courts have voted 40 times to protect religious liberty, while voting for the mandate only six times. At the non-profit level, 23 injunctions have been granted, while only five were denied.
She also said that the HHS mandate provides exemptions for companies with healthcare plans that cover over 100 million people, yet it will not exempt those who are against the mandate for religious reasons. Instead, it argues that such people should just drop their healthcare plans, even though people like the Greens know their employees depend on such plans.
"It strikes me as pretty outrageous... that the Greens just drop their insurance," Keim said.
Keim also argued that people against the HHS mandate are not "waging a war on women," as many critics claim.
According to a handout provided at the event:
"In the non-profit cases, women judges have voted to protect religious liberty by a ratio of more than 2 to 1. In fact, one of the leading district court decisions protecting religious liberty was written by a woman - Judge Lee Rosenthal of the Southern District of Texas.
In the for-profit cases, two out of the four courts of appeals that protected religious liberty did so in opinions written by women judges - Judge Dian Sykes of the 7th Circuit and Judge Janice Rogers Brown of the D.C. Circuit."
"There are many reasons to repeal this law, reform this law, replace this law," said Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY).
Sarah Torre described other legislation bolstering Hobby Lobby's case, especially the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, of which few Americans are aware. The 1993 Act was aimed at preventing legislation that would make it harder for citizens to freely exercise their religious beliefs. The Act was passed almost unanimously in Congress.
The women expressed optimism that the Supreme Court would rule in favor of Hobby Lobby.
"We think that we will win," Keim said.