WASHINGTON – The Obama Administration and its opponents are renewing the Supreme Court battle over President Barack Obama’s health care law.
This time, it’s a case that pits the religious rights of employers against the rights of women to the birth control of their choice.
Two years ago, the entire law survived the justices’ review by a single vote.
Now the court is hearing arguments in a religion-based challenge from family-owned companies that object to covering certain contraceptives in their health plans as part of the law’s preventive care requirement.
Health plans must offer a range of services at no charge beyond employees’ insurance premiums.
That includes all forms of birth control for women that have been approved by federal regulators
Some of the nearly 50 businesses that have sued over covering contraceptives object to paying for all forms of birth control.
But the companies involved in the high court case are willing to cover most methods of contraception, as long as they can exclude drugs or devices that the government says may work after an egg has been fertilized.
The largest company among them, Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., and the Green family that owns it, say their “religious beliefs prohibit them from providing health coverage for contraceptive drugs and devices that end human life after conception.
“Our family started Hobby Lobby built on our faith and together as a family. We’ve kept that tradition for more than forty years and we want to continue to live out our faith in the way we do business,” said Barbara Green, co-founder of Hobby Lobby. “The choice that the government has forced on us is out of step with the history of our great nation founded on religious freedom. We believe that no American should lose their religious freedom just because they open a family business. We are thankful that the Supreme Court has heard our case, and we prayerfully await the justices’ decision.”
“I want to express my support for the Green Family and Hobby Lobby in their courageous stand for religious liberty. The Constitution guarantees that our faith is not confined to the four walls of a church, nor to a style of worship. The Constitution guarantees all American citizens the right to live out their faith in public,” Oklahoma Attorney General Pruitt said.
Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby has more than 15,000 full-time employees in more than 600 crafts stores in 41 states.
The Greens are evangelical Christians who also own Mardel, a Christian bookstore chain.
The Court is expected to rule on the case before the end of its current term in June.