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Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Case Against Contraceptive Provision of Affordable Care Act

The Supreme Court Justices had trouble with the question of a private company skirting around a federal law simply by citing religious beliefs of the company shareholders, according to the Huffington Post.

A provision of the Affordable Care Act is being challenged by Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp.

Hobby Lobby Stores is a Christian-owned crafts supply chain. Conestoga Wood Specialties is owned by Mennonite Christians. Both companies are challenging the provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires all non-profit businesses to include contraceptives approved by the FDA in health insurance plans.

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The attorneys for Hobby Lobby argue that the law violates their constitutional right to religious freedom when forced to cover all birth control or they will be fined. The owners of the company are against emergency contraception and intrauterine devices, believing that they are forms of abortion.

The mandate in the law has exceptions in place for religious schools, hospitals and churches. For-profit businesses are required to carry all forms of preventive care. This includes intrauterine devices, birth control and emergency contraception. They must be provided to employees at no cost.

The attorney for Hobby Lobby is former Solicitor General Paul D. Clement. The female justices asked the most questions during oral arguments on Tuesday.

“There are quite a number of medical treatments that could be religiously objected to,” Justice Elena Kagan stated. “Everything would be piecemeal, nothing would be uniform.”

Kagan went on to suggest that companies would be able to challenge other federal laws. She mentioned family leave requirements, minimum wage and child labor laws as examples because of their religious beliefs.

Justice Anthony Kennedy is expected to be the swing vote in the case. He questioned both sides immensely on Tuesday.

“How would we consider the rights of employees?” Kennedy asked. “The employees may not believe … in the religious beliefs of the employer.”

The attorney for the Obama Administration, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr., said the state and federal laws “don’t consider these particular forms of contraception to be abortion.”

In a brief, Verrilli argued, “Allowing a corporation, through either shareholder vote or board resolution, to take on and assert the religious beliefs of its shareholders in order to avoid having to comply with a generally-applicable law with a secular purpose is fundamentally at odds with the entire concept of incorporation.”

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