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ANTIOCH, CA - MARCH 25: Customers enter a Hobby Lobby store on March 25, 2014 in Antioch, California. The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments from crafts store chain Hobby Lobby about the Affordable Healthcare Act's contraceptive mandate and how it violates the religious freedom of the company and its owners. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Oklahoma based craft chain store, Hobby Lobby in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores. The Green family that founded and runs the privately owned chain said due to their deeply held Christian beliefs, they could not support providing coverage for four of the twenty contraceptive drugs and devices covered in the Affordable Healthcare Act. By suing, the Greens took on a federal law passed in 1993, stating the “[g]overnment shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability." So, the Greens asked their company to be considered “a person” -- a person that feels their beliefs are compromised to the point of “burden.” The Supreme Court’s answer is, privately held companies who take issue with certain kinds of birth control options, can choose to not provide coverage for their employees.
Should companies with religious conviction, have to support contraceptive drugs and devices that go against their religious beliefs? What about the rights of the employees who may not share those same religious beliefs? How does this ruling extend beyond issues around contraception?
Does this ruling affect other laws? Are civil rights being impinged? Are civil rights being upheld? What recourse does an employee have? What kind of impact does this have on a company that takes issue with what it must cover under the Affordable Healthcare Act?
Lisa McElroy, professor at the Drexel University School of Law and Supreme Court Scholar
Rev. Barry Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Lori Windham, Sr.Counsel for The Beckett Fund, the law firm representing Hobby Lobby