UPDATE: Supreme Court Will Take Up Hobby Lobby Health Law Dispute

Nov 26, 2013

The Supreme Court has agreed to referee another dispute over President Obama's health care law, whether businesses can use religious objections to escape a requirement to cover birth control for employees.

(Updated at 4:33 p.m. with a statement from U.S. Rep. James Lankford [R-Okla. 5])

Oklahoma Congressman James Lankford, who served with the Baptist General Convention in Oklahoma and the program director for the largest Christian camp in the United States, Falls Creek, before his 2010 election, called the announcement a "positive step." 

"No federal administration has the right to supersede the faith and beliefs of other Americans, based on the preferences and opinions of government leaders. Hobby Lobby currently faces more than $1 million per day in fines, if they do not submit to all of the Administration's preferences," Lankford says. "Every day this Administration finds a new way to tell private business owners what they can sell, how they can sell it, to whom they can sell and now every health insurance option they are required to provide every employee."

(Updated at 2:45 p.m. with Here & Now host Robin Young's conversation with Slate legal affairs editor Emily Bazelon)

(Updated at 2:02 p.m. with a statement from Hobby Lobby founder Mart Green)

The founder of Hobby Lobby says he is encouraged that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to take up the company's lawsuit over the new health care law's provision on insurance for contraceptives.

Hobby Lobby founder Mart Green says that business owners should not have to choose between violating their faith and violating the law.

(Updated at 1:55 p.m. with comments from U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe [R-Okla.])

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) says the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act violates the Founding Fathers' belief that government should protect the right of conscience.

In a Facebook post, Inhofe says President Obama's health care law orders "a new moral code" for human rights.

"Despite being faced with millions of dollars in fines by the federal government, David Green and his company Hobby Lobby have honorably challenged the government's ability to infringe on the religious liberty and right of conscience for every American," Inhofe says. "Our Supreme Court judges must weigh this case with the recognition it will be a pivotal decision for the future of religious freedom in our nation."

(Updated at 1:21 p.m. to reflect a statement from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney)

A statement from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney indicates President Obama believes neither the government nor for-profit corporations should have a say in The President believes that no one, including the government or for-profit corporations, should be able to dictate a woman's health care decisions.  

"The Administration has already acted to ensure no church or similar religious institution will be forced to provide contraception coverage and has made a commonsense accommodation for non-profit religious organizations that object to contraception on religious grounds," Carney said in a statement. "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 their budgets."

(Editor's Note: Updated at 12:44 p.m. to reflect Attorney General Scott Pruitt's remarks)

Oklahoma's attorney general commended the Supreme Court's decision and called the review a "victory" for the company and its founders, the Green Family. Attorney General Scott Pruitt said in an email the state has filed an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit, and plans to continue to stand behind Hobby Lobby and the Green family during the high court's review.

Credit Fan of Retail / Flickr Creative Commons

The justices said Tuesday they will take up an issue that has divided the lower courts in the face of roughly 40 lawsuits from for-profit companies asking to be spared from having to cover some or all forms of contraception.

In a statement released late Tuesday morning, justices say they have consolidated four related cases and will hear one hour of oral arguments. That will happen next year, likely in late March. A decision should come by late June.

The court will consider two cases. One involves Hobby Lobby Inc., an Oklahoma City-based arts and crafts chain with 13,000 full-time employees. Hobby Lobby won in the lower courts.

The other case is an appeal from Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., a Pennsylvania company that employs 950 people in making wood cabinets. Lower courts rejected the company's claims.


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