| June 11, 2013
Obama administration: Hobby Lobby imposes its religious beliefs on employees by existing
Late last month, on May 23, Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., asked a federal appeals court for a religious exemption from the so-called “contraception mandate” — the Department of Health and Human Services ruling that requires employers to provide their employees with health insurance that covers contraceptives and abortifacients.
To provide such controversial insurance violates the religious beliefs of the members of the Green family, who own and operate their company according to biblical principles — but the administration insists they must provide the insurance anyway.
The administration’s argument seems to amount to that old tried-and-true parental adage: “Because we said so.”
At the May 23 hearing, Obama administration lawyer Alisa Klein made no cogent argument as to why government-mandated, employer-provided insurance that covers abortifacients is somehow more essential to human flourishing than the individual right to free exercise of religion.
In fact, she didn’t even try to make that argument.
Instead, she argued that “allowing for-profit corporations to exempt themselves from requirements that violate their religious beliefs would be, in effect, allowing the business to impose its religious beliefs on employees,” according to The Washington Post.
“If you make an exemption for the employer, it comes at the expense of the employee,” said Alisa Klein, who argued the government’s case in a similar contraceptives mandate appeal heard Wednesday in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.
Klein talked about an imaginary Hobby Lobby employee who is told by her doctor she needs a type of intrauterine contraceptive that she is entitled to having covered under the new health care law. But because of her employers’ religion, “the next sentence would be, unfortunately you have to pay $500 to $900,” Klein argued.
So far, the Green family has in no way attempted to forcibly prevent their employees from purchasing abortifacients with the dollars they earn while working at Hobby Lobby.
The Greens pay their full-time, hourly employees at least $14 an hour — a full $6.50 more than the federal minimum wage of $7.50 — and make no stipulations as to how employees spend their wages.
As a friend of OCPA has pointed out, Hobby Lobby employees make $500 — the hypothetical cost of an intrauterine contraceptive cited by Klein — in less than 36 hours.
To the Obama administration, insurance that covers abortifacients is apparently worth more than dollars employees may spend as they choose.
According to the administration’s warped argumentation, the Greens — by gainfully employing willing and able workers, by paying them a fair wage, and by refusing to provide abortifacient-covering insurance — are “imposing” their religious beliefs on their employees, while the Obama administration — by essentially mandating that employers redirect dollars from wages to the provision of conscience-violating insurance — is safeguarding the religious liberty of employees.
Fortunately, whatever the eight active judges of the federal appeals court decide, Hobby Lobby has an out: The Greens can pay fines — er, taxes — of up to $1.3 million a day just for the privilege to operate the business they founded according to the principles of the faith they cherish.