What Is (and Isn't) at Stake for Obamacare in the Hobby Lobby Case

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Jim's picture

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/06/30/supreme-court-hob...

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Monday that closely held corporations with religious objections to the "contraception mandate" in President Obama's health-care law cannot be forced to offer birth control coverage. ... [directly impacts:] On one side were the owners of two for-profit companies -- the giant Hobby Lobby chain of crafts stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., a Mennonite-owned cabinet maker -- claiming they should not have to include in their insurance plans certain forms of birth control that they equate with abortion.

dgszweda's picture

I don't understand this lawsuit.  How is Hobby Lobby, refusing to provide coverage for contraceptives to their employees, any different than the government requiring Hobby Lobby to provide coverage?  Hobby Lobby has a religious conviction against doing this, but they are then forcing their religious conviction onto their employees, who may or may not share that religious conviction.   I think that if Hobby Lobby gets an exemption (which I don't think will happen), it has some very potentially negative consequences for us as Christians.  What happens when you, a Christian, work for a Muslim owned company?  or a Jewish company?  That wants to then force their religious conviction onto their employees.

Sometimes, I think that we as Christians view the world through only one lens without understanding the consequence.  Our job as Christians (and the church) is not to fix the world or correct the wrongs.  But instead of religious freedoms, we want to essentially establish a Christian nation and force a narrow view onto the populace.

M. Osborne's picture

dgszweda wrote:

Hobby Lobby has a religious conviction against doing this, but they are then forcing their religious conviction onto their employees, who may or may not share that religious conviction.   I think that if Hobby Lobby gets an exemption (which I don't think will happen), it has some very potentially negative consequences for us as Christians.  What happens when you, a Christian, work for a Muslim owned company?  or a Jewish company?  That wants to then force their religious conviction onto their employees.

I'm not sure I follow. Where is the compulsion that I work for a Muslim company? Most jobs are described as "at will" relationships...they can fire me, or I can leave, and that's that. When I take a job, I know that I'm signing up for certain corporate values. No one forces me to take that job; no one forces me to stay there.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

Jim's picture

This is not so much "an Obamacare" case ... but rather a significant religious liberty case.

It's very narrow ... only impacts "closely held corporations". Probably few of us work for them. Publicly held corporations (have stock the trade publicly) offer all kinds of heath  benefits I might object too ... eg ... insurance for abortions 

Jim's picture

WSJ: http://online.wsj.com/articles/supreme-court-exempts-some-companies-from...

Justice Alito framed the ruling as "very specific" to the case before the court, and argued that no women would be burdened with the costs of contraceptives because their employers objected.

Instead, he suggested that the Obama administration extend to for-profit companies the same accommodation it had to religiously affiliated nonprofits that object to contraception—that is, requiring that insurers provide contraceptives without charging premiums to employers or copayments to individuals.  ... 

Behind the challengers are dozens of other religious business owners who say they have been waiting on the court's decision to shape their future health-coverage offerings to workers.

Forty for-profit companies have won injunctions shielding them from enforcement of the provision while challenges are under court review.

​Full PDF of ruling: 

http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/Hobbylobbyruling.pdf

dgszweda's picture

M. Osborne wrote:

 

dgszweda wrote:

 

Hobby Lobby has a religious conviction against doing this, but they are then forcing their religious conviction onto their employees, who may or may not share that religious conviction.   I think that if Hobby Lobby gets an exemption (which I don't think will happen), it has some very potentially negative consequences for us as Christians.  What happens when you, a Christian, work for a Muslim owned company?  or a Jewish company?  That wants to then force their religious conviction onto their employees.

 

 

I'm not sure I follow. Where is the compulsion that I work for a Muslim company? Most jobs are described as "at will" relationships...they can fire me, or I can leave, and that's that. When I take a job, I know that I'm signing up for certain corporate values. No one forces me to take that job; no one forces me to stay there.

 

That is nice when you have options and those options are aligned with your values.  We also know that the idea of companies being led by conservative leaders is a shrinking notion.  The world will continue to become more secular and more hostile to Christ.  So instead of pushing for freedom amongst the employee base (an employee is free to choose or not choose contraceptive), we are pushing the values at the top onto the subordinates.  Right now it doesn't seem to be a big deal amongst conservatives because 1) they agree with Hobby Lobby and 2) they have other places to work.  Change Hobby Lobby's push for one that is hostile to Christians, and remove or limit other less hostile options with other companies and quickly the logic turns its tables onto us and we don't like it.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Hobby Lobby has a religious conviction against doing this, but they are then forcing their religious conviction onto their employees, who may or may not share that religious conviction.

Not following you here, Dave. How is HL forcing their religious views onto their employees? So far as I know, they are not forcing their employees to do anything, or to avoid anything. Those employees are welcome to do whatever they want in terms of their birth control. HL is simply speaking of what they, under their religious beliefs, will pay for. To paint this as "forcing their beliefs on others" is both inaccurate and prejudicial.

Prior to the ACA, no one would have suggested that a companies refusal to include certain things in their healthcare policies was forcing their religious beliefs on others. So why is it now so?

Your argument would make sense if, and only if, HL was forbidding their employees from using Plan B or an IUD in any situation. They are not. They are simply saying, "We will not pay for it."

It is staggering that there are four justices, numerous legislators, and a president who think that they can compel people can be compelled to violate their religious beliefs? And it's staggering that people here think that. I can understand political hacks doing this. I can understand activists trying to do this. But normal people? Why should HL be compelled to pay for something they believe is murder?

So instead of pushing for freedom amongst the employee base (an employee is free to choose or not choose contraceptive), we are pushing the values at the top onto the subordinates.

Employees are free to choose or not choose a contraceptive, aren't they? No one at HL is forcing them to not choose something, are they?

Change Hobby Lobby's push for one that is hostile to Christians, and remove or limit other less hostile options with other companies and quickly the logic turns its tables onto us and we don't like it.

Give us an example.

 

GregH's picture

Normally I would agree with Dave on this. Politically active Christian conservatives seem to have a hard time understanding that this is not a Christian nation nor does Christianity have favored status. The freedoms available to Christians have to be available to every religion. But in areas like school prayer, the same people that are demanding school prayer would have a conniption if the person leading the prayer was Muslim.

That being said, I think this Hobby Lobby decision is different and I support them. No one is required to work for Hobby Lobby so there is no real coercion going on. The worst that happens is that someone has to buy their own birth control, which is probably $10 or so. 

dgszweda's picture

Larry,

 

The law is that contraceptive coverage must be provided to employees under their companies health care coverage.  HL is effectively stating that even though the federal law provides for this, that other companies provide this and that even many Christians take contraception, because HL doesn't believe in it, they are forcing their belief and will not provide that coverage.  The fact that they are withholding coverage could prevent some employees who may not be able to afford these products to provide such a burden as to effectively disallow it for a given employee.

It is not staggering to think that a government is compelled to violate someone's religious beliefs.  In fact it is more staggering that we have had the religious freedoms that we do have.  Out of the 10,000+ years of humanity, we have a narrow 200 years where there is some freedom.  This is not the norm, nor will it most likely last.  And in many cases there are laws that you and I may agree with, that are causing problems with other people's religious beliefs.

Jim's picture

dgszweda wrote:

 The fact that they are withholding coverage could prevent some employees who may not be able to afford these products to provide such a burden as to effectively disallow it for a given employee.

http://ec.princeton.edu/ASECPricingReport.pdf

 The average price for the branded product (Plan B One-Step®) is $48. 

See earlier post with this:

Justice Alito framed the ruling as "very specific" to the case before the court, and argued that no women would be burdened with the costs of contraceptives because their employers objected

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

dgszweda wrote:

I don't understand this lawsuit.  How is Hobby Lobby, refusing to provide coverage for contraceptives to their employees, any different than the government requiring Hobby Lobby to provide coverage?  Hobby Lobby has a religious conviction against doing this, but they are then forcing their religious conviction onto their employees, who may or may not share that religious conviction.   I think that if Hobby Lobby gets an exemption (which I don't think will happen), it has some very potentially negative consequences for us as Christians.  What happens when you, a Christian, work for a Muslim owned company?  or a Jewish company?  That wants to then force their religious conviction onto their employees.

Sometimes, I think that we as Christians view the world through only one lens without understanding the consequence.  Our job as Christians (and the church) is not to fix the world or correct the wrongs.  But instead of religious freedoms, we want to essentially establish a Christian nation and force a narrow view onto the populace.

Dave,

You have the argument backwards. Hobby Lobby isn't forcing anything on its employees nor demanding their employees violate their individual beliefs. They are still free to purchase their own contraceptives, purchase their own health care, or find work somewhere else. It is Hobby Lobby that faced having something forced on them that violated their beliefs.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

dgszweda wrote:

 

M. Osborne wrote:

 

 

dgszweda wrote:

 

Hobby Lobby has a religious conviction against doing this, but they are then forcing their religious conviction onto their employees, who may or may not share that religious conviction.   I think that if Hobby Lobby gets an exemption (which I don't think will happen), it has some very potentially negative consequences for us as Christians.  What happens when you, a Christian, work for a Muslim owned company?  or a Jewish company?  That wants to then force their religious conviction onto their employees.

 

 

I'm not sure I follow. Where is the compulsion that I work for a Muslim company? Most jobs are described as "at will" relationships...they can fire me, or I can leave, and that's that. When I take a job, I know that I'm signing up for certain corporate values. No one forces me to take that job; no one forces me to stay there.

 

 

 

That is nice when you have options and those options are aligned with your values.  We also know that the idea of companies being led by conservative leaders is a shrinking notion.  The world will continue to become more secular and more hostile to Christ.  So instead of pushing for freedom amongst the employee base (an employee is free to choose or not choose contraceptive), we are pushing the values at the top onto the subordinates.  Right now it doesn't seem to be a big deal amongst conservatives because 1) they agree with Hobby Lobby and 2) they have other places to work.  Change Hobby Lobby's push for one that is hostile to Christians, and remove or limit other less hostile options with other companies and quickly the logic turns its tables onto us and we don't like it.

Dave,

'm still not seeing this. Can you give a secular corollary? 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Jim's picture

http://www.albertmohler.com/2014/06/30/the-hobby-lobby-decision-a-big-wi...

Some Supreme Court decisions are considered landmarks, even as they are handed down. Today’s Hobby Lobby decision ranks among those. Just consider the fact that had the Court ruled otherwise, religious liberty in America would have taken a very direct hit from which it may well have never recovered. The public debate revealed all over again the fact that we are in a great and enduring battle for religious liberty, for the sanctity of human life, and for an entire range of concerns that are central to biblical conviction. Today’s decision does not settle those issues, but it does represent a much-needed defense of our nation’s cherished “first freedom.”

For that, at the very least, we must be thankful.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

dgszweda wrote:

The fact that they are withholding coverage could prevent some employees who may not be able to afford these products to provide such a burden as to effectively disallow it for a given employee.


It's hardly prevention. There's absolutely nothing preventing legislation that would change ACA to allow direct contraceptive registration for people who work for companies like HobbyLobby to have these products provided for free. Of course, I would disagree with that too, because then it would be my taxes subsiziding their "right" to take abortifacients, but that's another issue...

Dave Barnhart

Jim's picture

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/more-90-corporations-us-just-171143610.html

Publicly traded companies, while making up a smaller share of businesses overall, account for almost half of employment in the U.S. Still, closely held companies comprise 52% of the American workforce, according to a 2002 study from New York University

Closely held defined:

So, what is a closely held corporation? 

The Internal Revenue Service has spelled it out in plain terms in a Q&A on its website. Generally, it fits two descriptions:

Has more than 50% of the value of its outstanding stock owned (directly or indirectly) by five or fewer individuals at any time during the last half of the tax year; and
Is not a personal service corporation.

According to the IRS, more than 90% of all businesses in the U.S. fit the definition of "closely held," a statistic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi cited in her denunciation of the decision. 

"Although the Court restricted their ruling to ‘closely-held’ companies, this ruling will immediately affect the lives of millions of women across the country. Over  90%  of America’s businesses are ‘closely-held,’ including such large employers as Koch Industries and Bechtel," Pelosi said in a statement.

Responding to Pelosi: But few closely held purport to have deeply held religious convictions. So impact of ruling is really not large.

A local (to me) example of a company that would be impacted ... my plumbing company w Christian owners (guessing they are a LLC )

Larry's picture

Moderator

The law is that contraceptive coverage must be provided to employees under their companies health care coverage.  HL is effectively stating that even though the federal law provides for this, that other companies provide this and that even many Christians take contraception, because HL doesn't believe in it, they are forcing their belief and will not provide that coverage.

But how is that forcing a belief? The law requires something that is not constitutional, and therefore is not even a law. But more to the point, whose belief is being forced on who? Isn't the beliefs of others (the pro-choice crowd) that are being forced on the HL owners? Why should HL be required to do something simply because someone believes it should be done?

The fact that they are withholding coverage could prevent some employees who may not be able to afford these products to provide such a burden as to effectively disallow it for a given employee.

But this was true for 200 years prior to the ACA. It wasn't a burden then. And they aren't disallowing anything. They are simply saying, "We will not pay for it." The employees are allowed to spend their money however they like. "May not afford" is a straw man. If that is the standard, then the door becomes open to no one paying for anything.

It is not staggering to think that a government is compelled to violate someone's religious beliefs.

I am referring specifically to our system of government, not to others.

And in many cases there are laws that you and I may agree with, that are causing problems with other people's religious beliefs.

I am not aware of any (which doesn't mean much; I may simply not know about them). But I am increasingly libertarian in many respects, Friedman-ish (Milton, not Thomas). If HL employees want abortive coverage, they are free to find a job that offers them that, or they are free to pay for it themselves. It is, or should be, a voluntary employer perk. Employers should be allowed to provide the perks they desire, and not provide perks they don't desire. And let the market dictate who works where.

Jim's picture

http://online.wsj.com/articles/some-companies-to-halt-contraception-cove...

Atlas Machine and Supply Inc., an industrial machinery and engineering company with headquarters in Louisville, Ky., used to cover some forms of contraception for employees, but not the so-called morning-after pill, which some people consider a form of abortion. In January, when the Affordable Care Act went into effect, the company started paying for the drug, despite misgivings from president and owner Rich Gimmel, who is an evangelical Christian.

"I just felt I was being required to do something that I consider morally objectionable," he said.

Last January, the company sent a letter to its 210 employees informing them that management didn't agree with the benefit and planned to stop covering it as soon as it was legal to do so.

He said he didn't get any negative feedback from employees after the letter was sent, adding that a few contacted him to voice their agreement.

"Our position is, we don't think people should be banned from getting it, but I shouldn't be required to pay for it," he said.

Greg Long's picture

Dave, Hobby Lobby did and still will provide contraceptive coverage. It was a limited number of very specific kinds of contraceptives (abortifacients) that they objected to. That's how the media has distorted this--they are not reporting the full story, but making it sound like Hobby Lobby was against contraceptives of any kind. (Which I still think they should have a right to be against, if that were the case, say with a Catholic organization.)

Do you think the government should be allowed to tell HL to pay for employees' abortions?

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Jim's picture

Greg Long wrote:

Dave, Hobby Lobby did and still will provide contraceptive coverage. It was a limited number of very specific kinds of contraceptives (abortifacients) that they objected to. That's how the media has distorted this--they are not reporting the full story, but making it sound like Hobby Lobby was against contraceptives of any kind. (Which I still think they should have a right to be against, if that were the case, say with a Catholic organization.)

Do you think the government should be allowed to tell HL to pay for employees' abortions?

Media distortion - example of: We were watching the Today Show (NBC) this AM during breakfast. As they talked about the Hobby Lobby case, the view was of condom packages in a drug store. 

Bert Perry's picture

There may be a stinker in what otherwise may have been an excellent opinion by the SC; that a portion of Obama's "opt out procedure", to certify a company's objection to coverage, whereby the insurance company would provide it "free of charge", might be retained.  I'm waiting for better legal minds than mine to take a closer look at this, but we may have just won absolutely nothing besides the "right" to have the government force private companies to use false accounting.  Powerlineblog references this one.

Regarding the idea that companies will be preventing employees from getting contraception, this is false as well.  The question is simply whether the company will pay for it.  In an age when Wal-Mart and Target sell the pill for $4/month--or at least did before Obama's executive order, it's arguable that this is not a significant burden.  All the employee needs to do is go to a doctor who will prescribe it, whereupon they can buy it at any pharmacy.

The big case is coming up, when the courts are actually being asked to decide whether the government can force nuns to get contraceptive coverage.  It boggles the mind that we would even be asking this question.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Shaynus's picture

I'm trending libertarian politically, not because I think it's the best system, but it may be the best we can do given political realities. I'd rather have a weak evil government than a strong evil one. If I could have a strong righteous one, I'd like that, but it's not going to happen. The best way to argue this is to give people and corporations (acting as corporate persons) freedom to attract employees as they see fit. I'm just in between jobs now (and moving to Nashville, TN and getting out of Gemo. . . I mean Washington DC!). The company I left Friday extended healthcare benefits to any domestic partner of an employee. All they had to do was sign a paper declaring that they intended to live together. Is that the best policy a company could have in accordance with the Bible? Nope. Should the company and employee be legally free to enter into these kinds of contracts? Sure, so long as the next company down the road doesn't have to. Let's give freedom all around to all kinds of individuals and companies and governments and let sowing and reaping principles work things out. 

Jim's picture

http://blog.adw.org/2014/06/ok-we-won-but-the-hobby-lobby-vote-should-ha...

Okay, so we won today in the Supreme Court. The hobby lobby case when our way, score one for religious liberty.

But here’s a concern, why didn’t the Justices vote 9- 0?To be even more clear, If religious liberty, a right given us by God, and legally enshrined in the First Amendment, prevailed by only one vote, where are we as a country? And how long will that one vote prevail? So we can celebrate a narrow victory, but why was it narrow?

How have we come to a place in this country where those who hold of sincere religious belief contrary to the contraceptive mindset of the world, and who also sincerely oppose the killing of children through abortion, only narrowly escaped being required to both provide for and even pay for these sorts of things?

dgszweda's picture

Listen, I am not saying I agree or disagree with the ruling.  I am playing a bit of a devil's advocate.  We should be careful when we push for something on what implications may be.

For example, what if a company didn't want to hire a woman because their religious belief was that woman should be stay at home moms.  What if they said that woman could be employees, but couldn't be promoted to management, because it would take them away from home.  What if a company said it didn't want to hire minorities on religious grounds.  It was only a short time ago when minorities weren't allowed into some of our fundamentalist institutions on religious and biblical grounds.

What can be denied on what religious grounds?  Now the ruling today sounds good because it is aligned with our Judeo-Christian values.  But those are quickly waning as the predominate religious views of society.

Shaynus's picture

Dgszweda, 

So you're concerned that the government won't be able to protect minorities from being persecuted by religiously minded employers? Got it. I share your concern, but the case here is whether an employer has to pay for something he doesn't want to pay for. It has nothing to do with hiring anyone. The logic of the left is that if the employer doesn't pay for [cheeseburgers], that an employee doesn't have access to [cheeseburgers]. If you're going to be a devil's advocate, at least compare apples with apples. 

dgszweda's picture

Shaynus,

I struggle with what our biblical basis is around this.  I commend, Home Depot that they challenged this.  And I am happy that they won.

I guess where I am going with here is that this will increasingly be the norm, especially for business owners, and maybe even for taxpayers (i.e. what happens when taxpayer money goes to fund abortions, will we withhold taxes?).  Home Depot threatened that they would close if they were required to pay for health insurance for these types of drugs.  Granted, offering coverage is not he same as killing a child.  Killing a child requires a mother (who Home Depot has no control over) to take a certain pill.

My question is are these the only two options?  Can we only 1) challenge something in court and if we win, move forward, or 2) if we loose we close shop.  Granted, the owners of Home Depot can decide to close shop and that is their right.  But as the government becomes increasingly more secular are these two options the only ones.  How does this jive with Romans 13:1-7 (or other passages).  Is it fully okay, as a Christian, to pay what the government requires even though some element of it goes against our own personal conscience?  Arguably, Rome was much more corrupt than the US government.  

Bert Perry's picture

dgszweda--technically, it's Hobby Lobby, not Home Depot.  But with regards to your question, that ship sailed long ago.  One of the cases that came with Roe V. Wade also required states to fund prenatal infanticide.  That restriction was lifted in the 1980s, and I remember it was quite the to-do when Michigan decided to stop providing prenatal infanticide.

 

And that noted, I believe that Medicaid has always done so, and the Health Insurance Deform Act (a.k.a. "Obamacare" or the "Affordable Care Act"/ ACA) also provides funding for prenatal infanticide.  That's why prenatal infanticide kills so many of the poor, really.

 

Regarding Caesar, it's worth noting that Christ told us to pay taxes even when the recipient was constructing temples to Aphrodite.  That was, after all, Rome.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Shaynus's picture

Home Depot challenged what? Are you confused maybe? Hobby Lobby?

The short answer is that Jesus said to give to Caesar that which was Caesar's and to God that which is God's. We don't give to the government something that doesn't belong to it, which is our conscience. We give taxes only to whom taxes are due and honor only to whom honor is due. That passage says a lot about what we should give to government, but it also says a ton about what we aren't to give as well. The government may not ask me to violate my conscience with my own dollars, and I'm fine with telling them they're out of bounds.  

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