L/fog
60°
L/fog
Hi 82° | Lo 59°

Supreme Court will take up new health law dispute

Customers enter at a Hobby Lobby store in Denver. The Supreme Court has agreed to referee another dispute over President Barack Obama's health care law, whether businesses can use religious objections to escape a requirement to cover birth control for employees. The justices said Tuesday they will take up an issue that has divided the lower courts in the face of roughly 40 lawsuits from for-profit companies asking to be spared from having to cover some or all forms of contraception. The court will consider two cases. One involves Hobby Lobby Inc., an Oklahoma City-based arts and crafts chain with 13,000 full-time employees. Hobby Lobby won in the lower courts. AP photo

Customers enter at a Hobby Lobby store in Denver. The Supreme Court has agreed to referee another dispute over President Barack Obama's health care law, whether businesses can use religious objections to escape a requirement to cover birth control for employees. The justices said Tuesday they will take up an issue that has divided the lower courts in the face of roughly 40 lawsuits from for-profit companies asking to be spared from having to cover some or all forms of contraception. The court will consider two cases. One involves Hobby Lobby Inc., an Oklahoma City-based arts and crafts chain with 13,000 full-time employees. Hobby Lobby won in the lower courts. AP photo

The Supreme Court agreed yesterday to referee another dispute over President Obama’s health care law: whether businesses may use religious objections to escape a requirement to cover birth control for employees.

The justices said they will take up an issue that has divided the lower courts in the face of roughly 40 lawsuits from for-profit companies asking to be spared from having to cover some or all forms of contraception.

The Obama administration promotes the law’s provision of a range of preventive care, free of charge, as a key benefit of the health care overhaul. Contraception is included in the package of cost-free benefits, which opponents say is an attack on the religious freedom of employers.

The court will consider two cases. One involves Hobby Lobby Inc., an Oklahoma City-based arts and crafts chain with 13,000 full-time employees. Hobby Lobby won in the lower courts.

The other case is an appeal from Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., a Pennsylvania company that employs 950 people in making wood cabinets. Lower courts rejected the company’s claims.

The court said the cases will be combined for arguments, probably in late March. A decision should come by late June.

The cases center on the provision of the law that requires most employers that offer health insurance to their workers to provide the range of preventive health benefits. In both instances, the Christian families that own the companies say that insuring some forms of contraception violates their religious beliefs.

The key issue is whether profit-making corporations may assert religious beliefs under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act or the First Amendment provision guaranteeing Americans the right to believe and worship as they choose.

Nearly four years ago, the justices expanded the concept of corporate “personhood,” saying in the Citizens United case that corporations have the right to participate in the political process the same way that individuals do. Some lower court judges have applied the same logic in the context of religious beliefs.

“The government has no business forcing citizens to choose between making a living and living free,” said David Cortman of the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Christian public interest law firm that is representing Conestoga Wood at the Supreme Court.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the health care law “puts women and families in control of their health care by covering vital preventive care, like cancer screenings and birth control, free of charge.” Carney said the administration already has exempted churches from the requirement, and has created a buffer between faith-affiliated charities and contraceptive coverage by requiring insurers or another third party to provide contraceptive coverage instead of the religious employer. Separate lawsuits are challenging that arrangement.

The issue is largely confined to religious institutions and family-controlled businesses with a small number of shareholders. A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found 85 percent of large American employers already had offered coverage before the health care law required it.

Hobby Lobby calls itself a “biblically founded business” and is closed Sundays. Founded in 1972, the company now operates more than 500 stores in 41 states. The Green family, Hobby Lobby’s owners, also owns the Mardel Christian bookstore chain.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said corporations can be protected by the 1993 law in the same manner as individuals, and “that the contraceptive-coverage requirement substantially burdens Hobby Lobby and Mardel’s rights under” the law.

In its Supreme Court brief, the administration said the appeals court ruling was wrong and, if allowed to stand, would make the law “a sword used to deny employees of for-profit commercial enterprises the benefits and protections of generally applicable laws.”

Conestoga Wood is owned by a Mennonite family who “object as a matter of conscience to facilitating contraception that may prevent the implantation of a human embryo in the womb.”

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the company on its claims under the 1993 law and the Constitution, saying “for-profit, secular corporations cannot engage in religious exercise.”

The Supreme Court will have to confront several questions: Can these businesses hold religious beliefs; does the health care provision significantly infringe on those beliefs and, even if the answer to the first two questions is “yes,” does the government still have a sufficient interest in guaranteeing women who work for the companies access to contraception?

The justices chose two cases in which the companies object to only a few of the 20 forms of contraception approved by the Food and Drug Administration. In a third case in which the court took no action yesterday, Michigan-based Autocam Corp. doesn’t want to pay for any contraception for its employees because of its owners’ Roman Catholic beliefs.

The emergency contraceptives Plan B and Ella work mostly by preventing ovulation. The FDA says on its website that Plan B “may also work by preventing fertilization of an egg . . . or by preventing attachment (implantation) to the womb (uterus),” while Ella also may work by changing the lining of the uterus so as to prevent implantation.

Hobby Lobby specifically argues that two intrauterine devices (IUDs) also may prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. The company’s owners say they believe life begins at conception, and they oppose only birth control methods that can prevent implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus, but not other forms of contraception.

In siding with the administration, several women’s groups rejected what they see as efforts by the businesses to come between women and their doctors.

The health care law’s inclusion of contraception among preventive health benefits was a major victory in a decades-long fight for equal coverage for women’s reproductive health care needs, said Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center.

Citing the example of IUDs, Greenberger said the devices may be the safest, most effective way to prevent pregnancy for women who cannot take the birth control pill. But at $500 to $1,000 for an IUD, “the cost can be prohibitive,” she said.

I'm trying to figure out how these "religious" companies plan to stop women from purchasing contraception with the salaries they pay them. What's the difference if they get it with the insurance you provide or the salary you pay them?

It is not astonishing that you dont see the difference between a BIG Govt MANDATE and the citizens freedom and liberty to run their own life.

1993, Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act near-unanimously, and President Bill Clinton signed it into law. Though it confirms that religious liberty isn’t absolute — the government, for example, can enforce inoculations or quarantines in the event of epidemic — it requires the government’s interest to be compelling and the means chosen the least restrictive. Hmmm a law passed by Congress and signed by a democrat president. Anybody also remember Obama signing the Stupack Executive order to get 12 votes to pass NObamaKare. NObama lied about that also.

the democrats WAR on RELIGION is about to be stomped down by the Supreme Court

response to bruce...shouldnt a woman be able to choose to purchase a health insurance plan that does not include family planning and contraceptives? you make it sound as if its impossible to do without health insurance...and why should women over child bearing years..and most idiotic of all, men have to pay for it?

Jesus said "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and render unto God that which is God's". Caesar (the Government) says to provide for Birth control. God say's just because it's available you don't have to use it. In other words it's the individuals choice to use the birth control option provided by insurance based upon their individual beliefs. It's not for the owner of a company, you or me to decide. It's up to the individual.

No problem using or having birth control. Abortion, well that is another story. Christians, I mean real Christians want to bring little Christians into the world to shore up their numbers...that was the way churches looked at it in the past. Birth control is OK with me, however, when people use it as a tool saying that people can't afford it I would say that abstinence is not that far fetched. Some personal responsibility has to go along with the birth thing.

Why shouldn't corporations have the same right of religious freedom as citizens? After all, this SCOTUS has already said the Constitution gives them free speech rights. Aren't corporations people too, with all the legal rights, just none of the responsibilities of citizenship? I suspect some would like to grant them voting rights. For now, they'll have to settle for voting the old-fashioned way they always have--by buying votes. Good luck, though, getting a corporation into jail for wrong-doing, or ever seeing one enlist.

This is more basic than the empty corporations rhetoric. I know that progressives believe that they hold some ethical or enlightened high ground but some people do believe that abortion is wrong, it violates their religious beliefs. They feel as if they should not "pay" for something that they feel is repugnant. My belief is that it is a womans choice but greater society should not pay for her sexual choices and lack of self responsibility. Corporations are groups of people with a common interest. Unions are groups of people with a common interest. Neither should have a leg up on the other. People invest in companies and corporations and honestly they have a right to free speech as well. Yeah, we get it, the class envy part of your argument but these investors are the fuel that drive companies and allow them the opportunity to hire people and keep the economy moving. As far as buying votes is concerned, what do you think the motive behind immigration reform is on the part of Democrats? It is about stacking the deck and playing to immigrants and in essence having those people as bought votes. Plenty of people have gone to jail for corporate malfeasance and in fact Obama and many in his administration would be in jail for their fiscal irresponsibility if they were in the private sector. Imagine if an executive in an insurance company set up a system of health care insurance, kept changing the rules and lied about what they would cover and then it was found out that it was a lie just to get people to go along with using their insurance company. You would be calling for that executives head on a platter. I get what you stand for and what you want, which is, fairness in your opinion and the ends justify the means. Sorry but that is not the American way.

Spare us the pious platitudes. We live in a pluralistic society, not a theocracy. If you don't like abortions, then don't have one. Once more you've framed the issue in a way that doesn't fit the facts. And introduced the theme of 'class envy',--go off topic much? Access to family planning services is or should be a standard feature of any health insurance plan. No one is "denying" anyone's right to refuse the use of family planning services if it offends their morality. Nor is anyone infringing upon the Green's personal religious freedom. Instead, the Greens would deny the option of using those services to their employees, based only on their interpretation of Scripture. The owners of Hobby Lobby are imposing their version of morality on their thousands of employees. But they've chosen to conduct their business in the larger society. They have no litmus test for hiring based on fundamentalist tenets--until now, perhaps. The Greens are thinking and acting like ayatollahs in their madrasas. This is their fatwah to their employees and the larger world. But we still live in a pluralistic society, not a theocracy. To claim and behave otherwise is not the American Way.

Obama signs executive order on abortion funding limits By the CNN Wire Staff March 24, 2010 5:35 p.m. EDT.... Washington (CNN) -- President Obama signed an executive order Wednesday ensuring that existing limits on the federal funding of abortion remain in place under the new health care reform law. It was attended by Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan and 12 other House Democrats opposed to abortion rights, without whose help the landmark overhaul bill would not have passed, NOBAMA AND DEMOCRATS ARE DESPICABLE LIARS.

Upon further consideration of your words: Conservatives say they're not waging a war on women? Contained in your latest epistle is a clear expression of moralistic anti-female bias that should be "repugnant" to all: "My belief is that it is a woman's choice but greater society should not pay for her sexual choices and lack of self responsibility." Say what? The topic at hand was family planning and contraception, and you've reframed the issue into one about abortion and wanton sexuality. You assume the woman at issue is single-- not that it should make a whit of difference. You write about "her" sexual choices and "her" lack of social responsibility. Stereotype much? Or is this a "straw-woman"? One shouldn't need to point out that seeking contraception and family planning services demonstrates responsibility (as does the act of seeking out a health insurance plan) and makes abortion far less likely to be used as a family planning tool of last resort. Married or single, women are entitled to health insurance that covers all their healthcare needs--including contraceptives--it's fundamental to the concept of gender equity. If you disagree, then make the case for why contraception and family planning should be excluded from healthcare insurance. And try to spare us the anti-Obama rhetoric and the usual "class envy spiel" in your response as well.

Yes, it does demonstrate responsibility and if your insurance company agrees to pay for it.....great! If the insurance company or corporations opt out of paying for it, the rest of us have NO responsibility to subsidize it.

Sorry Jim, I disagree with the idea that Christian own companies are forcing anything on their employees. Nobody goes and works for a Christian company without knowing what they offer medical coverage wise, vacation days etc. So you know what you are getting when hired. If they change the coverage on you though, that is a different story.

Not every employee that works for a Christian owned business has the same religious views. Just like the fact that not every person who goes to church on Sunday follows its views on birth control. Like the law or not it is a provision of the law. Should a devote Christian CEO of a large corporation be able to not follow the law saying he runs the business? That imposes one person’s religious view on others……. I actually agree with you if it was not the law. A business owner should have the right to set their own standards and if one does not want to work there they don’t have to. But this is a law.

Well, should a devout ideologue elected by a majority of 2% of the population and now only supported by 36-39% of the people be able to pick and choose the laws he wants to follow, overstep the law through executive fiat saying that he is the president? That imposes one person's poltical views on others without recourse.

One could also say these "Christian" owned companies are forcing their religious belief onto their employees. How would that not be the exact same violation of the employees right that they are claiming is violating the companies rights. Forget the business, it is just an entity, the people running the business want the right to decide what their employees will do...... I do like the line by the lawyers “The government has no business forcing citizens to choose between making a living and living free”, yet he feels the “business” has that very right.

Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.