Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby is a Supreme Court Landmark Case Worth Watching

March 25th, 2014

Ever been to a Hobby Lobby store?

I have.

Enter the giant arts and crafts store as a customer and you’re left with little doubt that the owners are deeply religious people.  From the music playing over the loudspeaker to the merchandise selection, clearly there is an overriding sense that the Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby, would like patrons to leave their stores with more than just a sack full of scrapbooking stickers and assorted paint brushes.

Ever shopped at a Hobby Lobby store on Sunday?

If you answer “yes” you’re either lying or you’re confusing Hobby Lobby with Hobby World or Hobby Town.  Like Chick-fil-A, Hobby Lobby stores are closed on Sunday.

In fact, I imagine if landlords would allow it, Hobby Lobby would probably permit Sunday religious services in their retail space.  They are that serious about their mission to promote their Christian values through their work.

That’s what makes today’s arguments before the United States Supreme Court in the case of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby so compelling.

The case centers on the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that employers with more than 50 employees be required to provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance package.  This includes drugs that in effect induce abortion.  As evangelical Christians, the Green family objects to providing such drugs on religious grounds.

Turn on the television today, and you’ll see scenes in front of the Supreme Court pitting two groups against one another.  On one side are women claiming that a victory for Hobby Lobby will set back women’s reproductive rights for generations.  On the other side is Hobby Lobby and in effect the Green family claiming that a Hobby Lobby defeat spells the erosion of religious liberty in this country.

If the case meant women could no longer avail themselves to contraceptives that would be one thing.  But it doesn’t.

Given that, in my humble opinion, the evidence weighs in favor of Hobby Lobby.

For starters, the government’s argument against Hobby Lobby begins with the premise that a corporation in any form can’t exercise religious rights.  This argument fails just on the weight of the evidence of the governments’ implementation of the Affordable Care Act thus far.  To date, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has granted exemptions to non-profit corporations on religious grounds. So how can a non-profit corporation exercise religious rights but a for profit corporation can’t?

Given the fact that this is the same Supreme Court that just a couple of years ago twisted itself in knots to uphold the constitutionality of the ACA, it will be interesting to see to what lengths it might go to uphold this mandate, if at all.

If this mandate stands against religious liberty, what’s next?  I’ve actually been oddly amused reading people’s comments to the Hobby Lobby story as they speculate what we should expect if the Green family loses.  One person predicts the Obama administration will immediately require employers to pay for gym memberships.  Another person thinks haircuts should be in the mix since if your hair gets too long your vision could be affected.  That may sound crazy, but just a few short years ago it was considered unfathomable that the government could make you buy health insurance either.

So pay close attention to this case.  The decision will speak volumes about the future of the ACA, the Supreme Court, and the overall direction of the country with respect to the power of the government to compel our behavior.



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