The Religion Behind the Hobby Lobby Case
On what beliefs was the Hobby Lobby case for religious freedom based?
On Monday June 30, 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States made a ruling that freed the Hobby Lobby company from having to provide certain forms of birth control to their workers. While it was not meant to be a landmark case, the reverberations from this ruling will surely be felt for years to come as it opens the path for more challenges to be levied against the Affordable Care Act provisions. The Hobby Lobby case was based on the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which made provisions for people and privately-held businesses to object to laws that restricted their ability to exercise their religion. While the implementation of this law as the foundation for this case has been criticized by some, individuals such as Seamus Hasson, who is in charge of Hobby Lobby’s law firm, have held that the law protects the religious integrity of businesses. He has challenged the SCOTUS on similar laws that would infringe upon religious freedom.
When it comes to the integration of religion into reproduction and conception, which is the core of the Hobby Lobby case, there are several quotes that have been put forth by the firm to justify their stance. The Green family, who own Hobby Lobby, are Evangelical Christians. One of the most notable quotes used during the trial comes from Psalm 139: 13 and is summarized by the National Association of Evangelicals as “[revealing] God’s calling and care of persons before they are born, the preborn share in this dignity.” From the viewpoint of Hobby Lobby lawyer Seamus Hasson, and now the majority of the Supreme Court, this means that private businesses should not provide coverage for any birth control that could be interpreted as abortive; pills which are taken after intercourse to prevent conception or destroy fertilized eggs.
Even though the highest court in the United States has now upheld the case for corporate religious freedom, some see this as a poor precedent for the future. Many, including Justices Sotomayor and Ginsberg have expressed a fair amount of disdain for the concept that businesses are able to exercise religious rights in the same way that an individual can. News host Eugene Robinson has likened the entire scenario to segregationists, where religious fundamental groups are trying to justify their ability to refuse services to their workers based on a moral conflict. This belief is echoed on the web, that religious morality in business does not give one the right to deny services and products to individuals they serve. While this is only one of an increasing number of challenges to the Affordable Care Act, the Hobby Lobby case has certainly provided an interesting insight into the possibility of future SCOTUS decisions that will shape the relationship between religion and business.