Four years ago, in their controversial Citizens United decision, the justices ruled that corporations had full free-speech rights in election campaigns. Now, they’re being asked to decide whether for-profit companies are entitled to religious liberties.
At issue in Tuesday’s oral argument before the court is a regulation under the Affordable Care Act that requires employers to provide workers a health plan that covers the full range of contraceptives, including morning-after pills and intrauterine devices, or IUDs.
The evangelical Christian family that controls Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., a chain of more than 500 arts and crafts outlets with 13,000 workers, says the requirement violates its religious beliefs.
Some contraceptives can “end human life after conception,” the Green family says. Forcing the owners to pay for such devices would make them “complicit in abortion,” their lawyers say.
A ruling in their favor could have an effect on tens of thousands of women whose employers share the Greens’ objections to some or all contraceptives.
But the case could also sweep far beyond just this one provision of Obamacare. The justices have been wary of accepting claims that religious beliefs can exempt people — or companies — from following laws that apply to everyone. The court’s previous religious freedom cases usually involved narrowly focused claims from religious minorities, such as the Amish or Seventh-day Adventists.
SOURCE: David G. Savage
The Los Angeles Times