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Ramifications of the Hobby Lobby case

June 26, 2014

A ruling on the Hobby Lobby case currently before the Supreme Court is expected on the very last day rulings are supposed to be coming out: June 30th.  In brief, the court is ruling on a case brought by the owners of Hobby Lobby (a crafting supplies store) asking to be exempted from the ACA requirement that their employee’s health insurance plans include contraceptive care coverage.  The exemption is requested for religious reasons.  If the Court sides with Hobby Lobby, they would be granting the right of freedom of religious expression to a corporation for the first time.

Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, discussed some of the possible consequences of a ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby in this article for Forbes magazine.

“Scientology-believing employers could insist on non-coverage of its nemesis, psychiatry,” he said. “Jehovah’s Witness-owned corporations could demand exclusion from surgical coverage, under the theory that so many of such procedures require the use of whole blood products forbidden by their faith.”

Consequences could include making it legal for a private employer to fire an employee for being a single parent, or even because their personal religion forbids them from associating with people of other religions.  What particularly bothers people who oppose such a result is that Hobby Lobby’s health plan used to cover contraceptive care: it wasn’t until the passage of the ACA that it became a religious issue.  In addition, Hobby Lobby’s pension plan invests in companies that produce the contraceptive care products that they claim to be opposed to.

One to watch.

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