One of the most controversial provisions of Affordable Care Act is the requirement that companies provide employees a no-cost insurance coverage for contraception. A national chain store Hobby Lobby filed suit against this requirement.
Hobby Lobby alleges that the mandate violates the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that protects the religious beliefs of the company’s controlling shareholders. Basic Constitutional law says that infringement of a religious right is permissible only when the government can show it advances a compelling interest using the least restrictive measures. A bar that is very difficult to overcome.
However, the key issue in the case is whether Hobby Lobby (for-profit corporation) possess religious rights protected by the Constitution and RFRA that would exempt them from the Affordable Care Act’s “Contraception” requirement. In essence, the case will answer the question if “corporations” can be classified as “people” under the First amendment and RFRA.
If the Supreme Court decides that Hobby Lobby is a “person”. Then the next question is whether owners of the corporation are protected from the government mandate requiring that they make decisions on behalf of their company that is against their religious beliefs.
If the Court finds that Hobby Lobby is a “person” and its shareholders are also protected by the First amendment and The RFRA, then it is likely that Hobby Lobby will win the case because it is very difficult for the government show a “compelling interest” using the least restrictive means to achieve its goal in enforcing the mandate. But only time will tell. Oral arguments were heard yesterday and the Court will likely hand down its decision in June.
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