Washington D.C., Nov 26, 2013 / 05:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The U.S. Supreme Court will hear two cases challenging the controversial federal contraception mandate, filed by for-profit businesses and their owners on the grounds of religious freedom.
“My family and I are encouraged that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide our case,” said David Green, founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby, one of the two companies whose challenge to the mandate will come before the court.
“This legal challenge has always remained about one thing and one thing only: the right of our family businesses to live out our sincere and deeply held religious convictions as guaranteed by the law and the Constitution,” Green continued in a Nov. 26 statement. “Business owners should not have to choose between violating their faith and violating the law.”
The court announced on Nov. 26 that it would hear both Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius.
The cases both challenge a federal mandate, issued under the Affordable Care Act, that requires employers to offer health insurance plans covering contraception, sterilization and some drugs that can cause early abortions, even if doing so violates their religious beliefs.
More than 200 plaintiffs – including states, individuals, non-profit organizations and owners of for-profit businesses – have filed religious freedom lawsuits challenging the mandate. Many of these cases are still working their way through the court system, and the for-profit cases are the first to reach the Supreme Court.
Among cases that have received a ruling on their merits, 35 have been granted a preliminary injunction blocking the mandate from going into effect while legal proceedings continue, while six have been denied this injunction, according to the Becker Fund for Religious Liberty.
The U.S. government has argued that the First Amendment right to religious freedom does not extend to owners of for-profit businesses as they make decisions for their companies.
The business owners have argued that their faith affects all aspects of their lives, and forbids them to “check their beliefs at the door” when they go to work. They say that both the Constitution and federal law protect a broad exercise of religious freedom.
The Supreme Court said that it would address both the constitutional issues surrounding the mandate and claims that the rule violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, which requires a “compelling government interest” in order for a law to interfere with (Read More)