WASHINGTON, Nov. 26, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to hear the challenge by the Christian-owned Hobby Lobby stores against the HHS birth control mandate, which requires all employers to provide health insurance that covers contraception, abortifacient drugs and sterilizations.
The HHS mandate is a key component of the Obama administration's embattled healthcare reform law.
The nation’s highest court accepted the federal government’s appeal of a June decision by the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court had decided that the HHS mandate places a substantial burden on the religious freedoms of Hobby Lobby, which is solely owned by founder David Green and his family.
“This is a major step for the Greens and their family businesses in an important fight for Americans’ religious liberty,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead lawyer for Hobby Lobby. “We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will clarify once and for all that religious freedom in our country should be protected for family business owners like the Greens.”
In July, a lower federal court granted Hobby Lobby a preliminary injunction preventing the government from enforcing the HHS mandate. The injunction has allowed them to avoid fines of up to $1.3 million a day for refusing to comply with the mandate while the lawsuit works its way through the courts.
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The Greens and their family businesses – who have no moral objection to providing 16 of the 20 FDA-approved contraceptives required under the HHS mandate and do so at no additional cost to employees under their self-insured health plan – then took the unusual step in October of joining the government in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, despite the family’s victory in the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.
“My family and I are encouraged that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide our case,” said Mr. Green, Hobby Lobby’s founder and CEO. “This legal challenge has always remained about one thing and one thing only: the right of our family businesses to live out our sincere and deeply held religious convictions as guaranteed by the law and the Constitution. Business owners should not have to choose between violating their faith and violating the law.”
Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. will be argued and decided before the end of the Supreme Court’s term in June 2014.
There are currently 84 lawsuits challenging the unconstitutional HHS mandate. The Becket Fund represents: Hobby Lobby, Little Sisters of the Poor, Guidestone, Wheaton College, East Texas Baptist University, Houston Baptist University, Colorado Christian University, the Eternal Word Television Network,Ave Maria University, and Belmont Abbey College.