Tuesday the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments on behalf of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, Corp., whose business owners have brought lawsuits against the government's HHS Mandate. The law forces employers to subsidize insurance for contraceptives and abortifacients.
Nearing the hearings end Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has history of being a swing vote, challenged Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, the lawyer representing the Obama administration.
"Under your view, a profit corporation… could be forced in principle to pay for abortions," asked Kennedy. “You say profit corporations just don’t have any standing to vindicate the religious rights of their shareholders and owners.”
Verrilli claimed there is “no law” forcing employers to pay for abortions, Chief Justice Roberts interjected that the plaintiffs were arguing that the government does force employers to pay for abortions which may go against their religious beliefs.
In January the Thomas More Society filed an amicus brief urging the Court to uphold the religious liberties of these business owners. Thomas More attorneys are hopeful that the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in favor of religious liberty.
"Americans shouldn't be forced to check their conscientious religious beliefs at the door when they open and conduct a business," said Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society. "Freedom of religion has been one of our foundational values and solemn commitments from the very inception of our nation, and we sincerely hope that the Supreme Court will fully protect, rather than diminish, this precious legacy as it is now more vitally needed than ever for the flourishing of our citizens, our families, and the good of our nation."
Hobby Lobby, a family-owned chain of arts and crafts stores and Conestoga Wood the Lancaster County, Pa.-based cabinet maker owned by the pro-life Mennonite Hahn family, claim that being mandated to provide their employees with and paying for life-terminating drugs and devices violates their deeply held religious convictions.
Companies who don’t follow the mandate may be penalized $100 per day, per employee. For Hobby Lobby, fines could total more than $400 million per year. More than 60 lawsuits are challenging the mandate.
The court is expected to reach a decision regarding the cases by June.