Landmark case over contraception provision heard by Supreme Court

Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., argues the health care law shouldn't supersede their religious beliefs

EL PASO, Texas - The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case involving national arts and crafts store Hobby Lobby and the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

At issue -- whether the government can require employers to provide coverage for contraception if the business owners say it violates their religious beliefs.
The case, Sebelius vs. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., is being called a landmark case for delving into the controversial topic of religious freedom and government regulation.

Barbara Green, the co-founder of Hobby Lobby, was flanked by her husband, David, as she read a statement in response to the arguments heard by the nation's high court Tuesday.

"The choice that the government has forced on us is unfair and not in keeping in the history of our great nation, founded on religious freedom," said Green.

The Hobby Lobby founders are hoping the Supreme Court will side with them in their case against the government and the provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires employers fully cover all birth control methods for employees.

The Green family said it violates their deeply held religious beliefs, also saying in their recorded statement online, "We believe that Americans don't lose their religious freedom when they open a family business."

The court seemed divided among the usual lines, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor asking, "Where are the cases that show that a corporation exercises religion?"
Justice Antonin Scalia countered, "There is not a single case which says that a for-profit enterprise cannot make a freedom-of-religion claim."

El Pasoans we spoke with sided with Hobby Lobby -- which has two locations in the city.

"If a corporation chooses to set up on Christian values and they are somehow persecuted for that, then I think the law has overstepped the people," said Patricia Rutkowski.

When asked if Hobby Lobby should be able to express religious beliefs, Patrick Archuleta responded, "Yes, definitely, and I think every person in the country should be able to."

Green's recorded statement ended saying the family was encouraged by Monday's arguments, adding, "We are thankful that the Supreme Court heard our case, and we prayerfully await the justices' decision."

A decision is expected by the summer.

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