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Supreme Court will hear Hobby Lobby birth control case on Tuesday

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Can a company deliberately exclude health insurance coverage of the morning after pill for its employees, in the name of freedom of religion?

That’s a question the US Supreme Court could take up on Tuesday when it decides whether to hear a case pitting a chain of craft stores against President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.

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The Obama administration is challenging the refusal of Hobby Lobby Stores to underwrite coverage for certain contraceptive methods.

The family-owned chain based in Oklahoma says it manages its business “in a manner consistent with biblical principles.”

“We believe that it is by God’s grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured. He has been faithful in the past, and we trust Him for our future,” it says on its website.

Joined by the religious bookstore Mardel, Hobby Lobby has refused to abide by the new health care law’s requirement that it provide health insurance coverage for four methods of contraception (two abortive pills and two types of IUDs), or pay a fine.

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The chain has not challenged other methods agreed to by the federal government — contraceptive pills, diaphragms and other barrier methods — but it objects to the four specific methods on grounds they are comparable to abortion.

In a brief filed with the court, the company argued that “by providing insurance coverage for contraceptives that could prevent a human embryo from implanting in the uterus, they themselves would be morally complicit in ‘the death of [an] embryo.’?

A federal appeals court agreed, ruling that the legal requirement was counter to the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

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The Obama health care law exempted churches and other religious organizations from having to provide coverage for birth control.

But the government argued that “no court has ever found a for-profit company to be a religious organization for purposes of federal law.

The court of appeals erred by deeming the respondent corporations to be ‘persons’ engaged in the ‘exercise of religions’ within the meaning of RFRA,” Solicitor General Donald Verrilli contended.

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If the top US court takes up the case, it will be its first major decision on Obama’s health care law since it upheld the reform’s constitutionality in June 2012.

It would also force the court to review its controversial 2010 “Citizens United v FEC” decision, which concluded that companies have a right to freedom of expression under the First Amendment of the Constitution.

That decision allowed companies to provide candidates with unlimited campaign financing.

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The Supreme Court would have to decide whether that decision also meant a company has a right to religious freedom.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Trump bashed for babbling about the weather during G7 appearance with France’s Macron: ‘Out of his depth’

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On MSNBC's "Up with David Gura," Princeton University African American studies professor Eddie Glaude harshly criticized President Donald Trump for his inability to discuss world issues at the G7 summit, saying that not only is he unprepared for diplomatic negotiations, he doesn't even understand how alliances work in general.

"Eddie, let's talk about the definitional evolution we've seen of that term, 'allies,'" said Gura. "How much of alliance has changed as a result of President Trump's role on the world stage ... How is our notion of what an ally is and what an alliance is changed?"

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Britain’s Prince Andrew denies witnessing Epstein abuse

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Britain's Prince Andrew insisted on Saturday that "at no stage" during his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein did he "witness... any behavior of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest".

The prince, Queen Elizabeth II's second son, is under heavy fire over his relationship with the disgraced US financier, and admitted in a statement on Saturday that "it was a mistake and an error to see him after his release in 2010".

"At no stage during the limited time I spent with him did I see, witness or suspect any behavior of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction."

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Trump’s mental decline compared to Reagan’s hidden Alzheimer’s in brutal MSNBC assessment

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On Saturday morning a deadly serious MSNBC panel took up Donald Trump's increasingly erratic behavior of late, which led one panelist to sincerely suggest the president needs to be evaluated by mental health officials because she believes the White House is covering for him.

Speaking with host David Gura, MSNBC legal analyst Maya Wiley admitted that she is no doctor, but that there are signs of the president's decline that reminded her of how Ronald Reagan's White House hid his Alzheimer's from the public.

"This is the man last week said he was the second coming, the 'chosen one,'" Wiley began. "It is very, very difficult to not have a conversation about whether or not he's competent to serve as president. I say that because there were actually objective measures this week."

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