The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday concerning Conestoga Wood Specialties and Hobby Lobby, two companies that argue that Obamacare’s contraception mandate violates their religious freedom rights.
As reported by the Associated Press:
Some of the nearly 50 businesses that have sued over covering contraceptives object to paying for all forms of birth control. But the companies involved in the high court case are willing to cover most methods of contraception, as long as they can exclude drugs or devices that the government says may work after an egg has been fertilized.
The largest company among them, Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., and the Green family that owns it, say their "religious beliefs prohibit them from providing health coverage for contraceptive drugs and devices that end human life after conception."
Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby has more than 15,000 full-time employees in more than 600 crafts stores in 41 states. The Greens are evangelical Christians who also own Mardel, a Christian bookstore chain.
The other company is Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. of East Earl, Pa., owned by a Mennonite family and employing 950 people in making wood cabinets.
The Supreme Court Justices will have to interpret both the First Amendment “free exercise clause” (which protects Americans from being forced to act against their religious beliefs), and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (which ensures that the government shall not "substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion").
The Obama Administration seeks to prove that the laws apply to individuals, rather than to businesses. Hobby Lobby argues:
“Ultimately, whether it is the individuals, the corporations, or both who are exercising religion, the government cannot simply wish away the reality that its policies substantially burden Respondents’ religious exercise in a wholly unjustified manner.”
Obamacare mandates employers offer 20 different types of contraceptives. These companies are only at issue with four types, including Plan B and Ella, which can abort a fertilized egg.
The Obama Administration has continually tried to legitimize the HHS mandate by claiming the contraceptives are "lawful and essential to women's health."
However, 85 percent of large corporations were already supplying prescription contraceptives prior to the government stepping in, according to a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation survey.
Companies that do not comply to the mandate will be charged $100 dollars per employee per day. For Hobby Lobby this tallies to $475 million per year and $35 million for Conestoga.
More than 30 amicus briefs from Constitutional law scholars, Jews, Catholics, and women’s groups, among others, have written to the Court decrying the unconstitutionality of Obama's overbearing mandate.
We'll be reporting from the Supreme Court tomorrow as the hearing gets underway. Stay tuned for video footage.
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