Obama administration justifies mandate as Hobby Lobby owners defy law

David and Barbara Green of Hobby Lobby
David and Barbara Green, founders and owners of Hobby Lobby, are placing their religious principles ahead of an Obama administration mandate — and they may pay dearly for living up to their beliefs.

Last week, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor denied the Greens an injunction protecting them from being forced to provide abortion-inducing drugs to their employees pending the outcome of their lawsuit.

I noted at that time that the motion’s failure left the company “with the choice of either going out of business or ignoring their religious beliefs” as the lawsuit continued.

In a stunning announcement, Becket Fund attorney Kyle Duncan, representing the Greens and Hobby Lobby, said the Greens will put their money where their mouths are. They’ll conduct business as usual, without offering their employees insurance to cover the controversial “morning-after” and “week-after” pills, pending the outcome of the lawsuit.

“The company will continue to provide health insurance to all qualified employees,” Duncan said in a statement, according to LifeNews. “To remain true to their faith, it is not their intention, as a company, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs.”

The significance of this decision is enormous. Beginning Jan. 1, when the mandate goes into effect, the Greens and Hobby Lobby risk daily fines of $1.3 million in the name of religious freedom.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate, requiring that all employers provide contraceptives to their employees, is the subject of numerous other lawsuits nationwide.

Unlike those lawsuits, however, the Greens only seek a narrow exemption from the mandate. They object to being forced to provide the “morning-after” and “week-after” pills, reasoning that such drugs are a form of abortion, which runs contrary to their religious beliefs. As such, it also runs contrary to the First Amendment guarantee that all Americans may freely exercise the religion of their choice.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Stuart Delery has advanced two arguments against the Greens.

Individuals lose their First Amendment religious freedoms when they engage in commercial activities as part of a for-profit corporation, one argument goes.

In the other, “the administration argues it can force a person to act against his religion so long as the coercion is done under the authority of a law that is neutral and generally applicable,” according to CNS News.

The CNS article added:

In keeping with Delery’s argument, the Washington Post, as a corporation, can use its First Amendment-protected freedom of speech to write editorials in support of the Obama administration imposing its contraception mandate on businesses like Hobby Lobby. But the members of the family that created and owns Hobby Lobby, because they formed Hobby Lobby as a corporation, have no First Amendment freedom of religion that protects them from being forced by the government to act against their religious beliefs in providing abortion-inducing drugs.

“As the nation approaches the much publicized fiscal cliff, it also approaches a moral cliff: Will the Obama administration compel Christians to act against their faith?” the CNS News article said. “As of now, the answer seems plain: Starting Tuesday, it will.”

It’s hard to argue with that.

Read more at CNSNews.

A video report on the lawsuit and the Greens’ decision follows.


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