SCOTUS, as its referred to, will hear oral arguments on Tuesday in cases brought by two corporations, both of which are owned by devoutly-religious individuals. They assert that President Barack Obama’s Affordable (Health) Care Act will require them to provide contraceptives to employees covered under their health care plans. The claim that ACA denies the respective owners their personal Religious Freedom.
Hobby Lobby is a multi-billion dollar company, headquartered in Oklahoma, which employees 13,000 employees Nationwide. Conestoga Wood Specialties, on-the-other-hand, is a smaller company, run by a Mennonite family, located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Both are profitable. This is a similar stance which various religious organizations have taken since the Act was affirmed by the Court in 2012. Actual Houses of Worship are exempt from the contraceptive provision of ACA. Their affiliates, however, such as hospitals and universities, area not exempt.
The Freedom of Religion, along with Speech and the Press, are guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, which was adopted on December 15, 1791. There has been a considerable amount of print and broadcast media coverage and, no doubt, it will continue until these cases are finally settled. Several states’ Attorneys General have weighed-in on either side of this issue.
The ultimate question here, at least to me, is whose Religious Freedom should be protected–the employer’s or the employees’? Caroline Mata Corbin, Law Professor at the University of Miami, suggested that, “Corporations…cannot suffer. They are not sentient. They have no soul.” Shouldn’t it ultimately be up to the individual employees to decide whether they wish to follow their own religious beliefs–or NOT?
NOTES: The attorneys for maintaining the status quo might include the Equal Rights Provision (Fourteen Amendment) in their argument; however, I understand that it is the most-litigated of all of the Amendments.
On today’s date in 1972, the Equal Rights Amendment was submitted by Congress for ratification by the states. It would have guaranteed Equal Rights for Women. But, only 35 of the 38 required states ratified the ERA Amendment, within the seven year period allowed by Congress. It was re-introduced in 1982; however, the House voted it down.