Protests and Prayers as Two Sides Battle in Front of Supreme Court for Hobby Lobby Case
Should all people get to have access to no copay birth control as part of their insurance plan, or should a boss be able to say that he or she doesn’t believe in birth control and have that benefit removed? That’s the entire argument of two cases being heard at the Supreme Court on Tuesday March 25. Both cases involve businesses run by owners who believe that emergency contraception is an abortifacient, IUDs stop tiny babies from implanting and growing into toddlers, and that permanent methods like tubal ligation are a sin against God, because sex without the possibility of procreation is anti-Bible, and that their beliefs as business owners should override the beliefs of their employees, many of whom don’t want to worry about getting pregnant every single year.
Both Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties rely on the argument that they are “religious” employers even if they are for profit businesses, because they donate so much of their profit to various religious groups and ministries. Of course, those donations also provide them with massive tax benefits, allowing them to keep more profits in the first place. Together, the businesses have almost 30,000 employees, many of who are not religious, and, in the case of Hobby Lobby, a number of who are female, and most likely to be affected by the refusal to cover birth control in the insurance package. (In fact, Hobby Lobby actually covered these methods prior to the Affordable Care Act mandate, and only stopped once lawyers reached out to them to ask them if they would like to sue.)
Tuesday’s oral arguments will be the first inkling of which direction the Supreme Court is likely to head when it comes to deciding if companies have “religious beliefs” and hence get to enforce those beliefs upon their own employees, superseding both federal law and the potential religious beliefs of the employees themselves. Supporters for both sides of the argument will be heading to the court with some of their biggest weapons — people and prayer.
NARAL Pro-Choice America has been rallying their base regarding the implications of the suit which, if the businesses win, means bosses will have unprecedented control over their employees private lives. Rallying techniques include running social media hash tags like #notmybossbusiness, setting up Google hangouts to discuss the issue and, on argument day itself, planning a massive rally at the court steps.
“These bosses don’t agree with birth control, so they want to take away their employees’ birth-control coverage. That’s just plain offensive,” declares NARAL. “Women and families should determine what medications they need. Your birth control is not your boss’s business!” The group is also intending to bring the signatures of thousands that it has gathered online to show support for the birth control mandate.
Abortion and birth control opponents are using their own favorite tool to move the court: prayer. The Christian Defense Coalition is organizing a prayer rally on the court steps on Tuesday, to “witness” and call on judges to reject the birth control mandate all together. “One of the most important religious freedom cases in a generation is being heard by the Supreme Court. In light of this it is critical that the faith community come together in prayer and public witness to challenge the justices to reject the HHS mandate in Obamacare,” writes Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition.
Of course, Mahoney only represents one side of the “faith” argument. The National Coalition of American Nuns have come out in favor of the birth control mandate, and 45 nationally known and recognized religious organizations have released a joint statement of support for the mandate, too.
In the end, that’s the real issue with the case itself. It’s not protecting religious freedom, it’s in fact allowing one person’s religious beliefs to dominate another’s own religious beliefs or choice to be free from those original beliefs. To allow an employer to make decisions based on his or her own belief system, and that those beliefs get to overrule an individual’s decisions, not to mention federal law, is one of the gravest injustices we can do. That would be establishing religion, something our founders purposefully rejected when creating the constitution.
Hopefully, the Supreme Court will remember that, too.
Photo credit: Wikimedia commons