Today 19 Democratic senators are siding with the Obama administration against Hobby Lobby, which is arguing that paying for their employees’ birth control, a requirement under Obamacare, violates their company’s religious freedom.
The Senators are filing an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief saying that the owners of the Oklahoma-based crafts store chain are not exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate simply because some forms of birth control offend their religious beliefs.
The 19 senators—all of whom voted for the popular RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] in 1993—argue that the law’s religious protections were never intended apply to a for-profit company. Hobby Lobby’s “gross misapplication” of the law perverts Congress’ intent in passing it, they write in the brief, which was obtained by Yahoo News.
In actuality, like most progressives, these senators believe that one’s faith is only to be followed when one is inside a house of worship.
Hobby Lobby’s owners, David Green and his family, are suing the federal government over the mandate, which says large employers’ insurance plans must offer birth control without co-pays or else face steep fines.
A lower court upheld the Greens’ case, ruling that the 1993 … RFRA protects the Greens from having to adjust their insurance plans to cover contraception for their 13,000 employees. (RFRA says the government must have a compelling reason to infringe upon an individual’s religious beliefs, and that laws that do so must be narrowly tailored.)
The case is novel because religious freedom, enshrined in the First Amendment, typically has been thought to apply to individuals, churches and other religious nonprofits—not corporations. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, siding with Hobby Lobby, said the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010, which upheld a free-speech right for corporations, conferred a right to religious expression on businesses.
The Hobby Lobby case is an important inasmuch as the court will rule on whether or not we have a freedom to worship or an actual freedom of religion. The government and those 19 Senators will argue that we only have the freedom to pray where we desire, Hobby Lobby argues that we should be able to take those prayers and learning from our faith and execute them in our “real lives.”