The first day of hearings in the Hobby Lobby religious freedom case at the U.S. Supreme Court on March 25 raised more questions than it did answers. In a case which has far-reaching potential in terms of setting legal precedence, it’s a question of the religious rights of the arts and crafts company vs. the personal and medical rights of its employees.
Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. is challenging a provision in the Affordable Care Act, requiring all for-profit organizations to provide all FDA-approved contraceptives/birth control to all of its female employees, under the health insurance plan.
The company, owned by Mennonite Christians, said that the law violates its religious beliefs by making it provide IUDs and the morning-after pill. The company’s owners are opposed to emergency contraception and intrauterine devices, claiming that they are a form of abortion.
There are some non-profit religious organizations which are exempt from the law, including schools and churches, but all for-profit organizations must comply with the contraception mandate, providing female employees with preventative care products.
In open court, the U.S. Justices brought up a litany of valid questions. Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked Hobby Lobby’s attorney: “What about employers who have religious objections to health plans that cover other basic medical procedures — blood transfusions, immunizations, medical products that include pork?”
Justice Elena Kagan added that an employer “might have a religious objection to complying with sex discrimination laws, minimum wage laws, family leave laws and child labor laws, to name just a few.”
Sotomayor also brought up the very important question of how a company imposes its religion on its employees. “Whose religion is it? The shareholders? The corporate officers? How much of the business has to be dedicated to religion?”
Justice Anthony Kennedy is expected to be a swing vote in the Hobby Lobby religious freedom case.
It will be up to the nine justices to decide if the religious rights of a corporation trump the rights of its employees.
The attorneys at Garland & Mason, L.L.C. have been defending employee rights for nearly 30 years. If your rights have been violated at your workplace, don’t stand idly by. Contact us today for a free consultation. Call (732) 358-2028.