- June 23, 2014
It is expected that the Supreme Court will announce a ruling in the Hobby Lobby v. Sebeliusis case this week. Over the past few months, HRC and women’s rights advocates, and other allies have rallied together against the denial of birth control to employees by for-profit employers.
In March the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius. These lawsuits challenge the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that private businesses provide birth control health insurance coverage to their employees. The defendants claim that the ACA infringes upon their freedom of religion under the First Amendment.
While the Supreme Court heard oral arguments, HRC along with other civil rights and women’s rights groups protested in a snowstorm with thousands of supporters. HRC’s State Legislative Director Sarah Warbelow gave a rousing speech about the importance of religious freedoms in America, but emphasized that we cannot permit a vocal minority to use religion to control personal and individual choices. “Every single person needs to have their rights protected,” she declared, “and religion cannot and should not be used to dictate our private lives.”
The Supreme Court’s decision could dramatically broaden employers’ ability to object to laws on religious freedom grounds and potentially restrict access to contraception for thousands of women employed by companies that share Hobby Lobby’s religious objections. Such a decision could also have drastic implications for LGBT individuals. If corporations are people with a right to refuse to comply with health-care mandates based on religious beliefs, they may not only be permitted to refuse birth control coverage but types of coverage seen as “promoting homosexuality” or acknowledging the health needs of transgender individuals as well.
For updates on the Hobby Lobby case, stay tuned to HRC’s blog.