Lawyers for Hobby Lobby asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to take up the company’s lawsuit against the federal health care law’s mandated coverage of the morning-after pill.
Lawyers for the Oklahoma City-based craft store chain and its sister company, Mardel Christian bookstore, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case, because of what they are arguing to be conflicting decisions by other courts regarding religious freedom.
“As the federal government embarks on an unprecedented foray into health care replete with multiple overlapping mandates, few issues are more important than the extent to which the government must recognize and accommodate the religious exercise of those it regulates … Thus, Respondents agree with the government that this Court should grant the petition,” lawyers wrote in their 51-page filing.
In July, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton granted Hobby Lobby Mardel Christian bookstore a temporary exemption from a requirement that it provide insurance coverage for controversial morning-after pills, other emergency birth control methods and intrauterine devices. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in September filed a notice in federal court saying it would appeal Judge Heaton’s decision.
Heaton had initially rejected the request to block the birth-control mandate, but he reconsidered his decision following the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling that made evident the companies were likely to prevail in the case. The ruling held in June that the company would not be subject to fines of up to $1.3 million a day for not offering the birth control methods. Judge
Heaton wrote, “religious conduct…can be communicated by individuals and for-profit corporations alike.” The Green family, which owns the two companies, as do many Americans believe that life begins at the point of conception, and lawyers for the Greens say following the provisions of the new federal health care law would either violate their religious beliefs or cost them millions of dollars in fines.
Despite the claims made by negative press coverage, the company’s insurance plans actually do offer 16 other forms of birth control mentioned in the federal health care act. The Greens object to birth control methods that not only can prevent implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus, such as an intrauterine device or forms of emergency contraception, but those that terminate after-the-fact.
In the related case of Cherry Creek Mortgage, the court — using the 10 U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision — found that the evangelical run mortgage company would also not have to comply. It is unclear whether or not the cases will be heard together, or even at all, though there is widespread belief that the U.S. Supreme Court will absolutely take these cases.