November at a Glance
By: David Horton
In November, the main legal news story was once again centered on the controversial Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The Supreme Court has decided to hear two cases, which are Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (13-354) and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius (13-356), involving a dispute in the use of contraceptives and religious liberty associated with Obamacare. It will review the provision at which employers of a certain size are required to give health insurance coverage for birth control, contraceptives, etc. without co-pay. The issue at hand in the two Supreme Court cases is whether or not private companies have to provide these services if they conflict with their religious beliefs and liberties.
However, the oral arguments for these cases will be held likely in March with a decision in June of next year. The Supreme Court must determine whether or not corporations themselves enjoy the same rights of the First Amendment as individuals in these two cases. Three federal appeals courts around the US have struck down the contraception coverage rule, whereas two other appeals court upheld it, which made the Supreme Court to review it. The two cases that the Supreme Court decided to hear are involving for-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby.
Early this year, Hobby Lobby found a way around a daily $1.3 million Obamacare fine. The founders of Hobby Lobby found some parts of the comprehensive coverage conflicted with their religious views. Ironically, the privately held company, Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation, did not oppose in funding contraceptives for its roughly 13,000 employees. According to the White House, the requirement of contraceptives is legally necessary to women’s health. The 1993 federal law known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act draws out a crucial issue, which is can companies, churches, and universities be included or does it only protect “persons,” that the Supreme Court justices need to interpret in these two cases.