Healthcare Business News

More than 50 groups back Hobby Lobby in contraception case

By Rachel Landen
Posted: January 29, 2014 - 4:00 pm ET

More than 50 groups submitted briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court this week in support of Hobby Lobby's case against the contraception mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Members from both congressional parties, women's groups, doctors, scholars, states and religious groups filed 56 amicus briefs, asking the court to rule in favor of Hobby Lobby when it hears the case in March.

Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby will focus on a provision of the healthcare law that says that most employers that provide health insurance have to cover preventive health benefits, such as contraception.

But Hobby Lobby, the Oklahoma City-based chain of arts and crafts stores, has argued that insuring contraception for its employees violates the religious beliefs of its founder and CEO, David Green. Asking to be excluded from this piece of the law, Hobby Lobby won its case in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in June. HHS is appealing the ruling, which the Supreme Court will decide on before its term ends in June.

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The Supreme Court so far has received a total of 81 briefs concerning the case, with two expressing neutrality and the remaining in opposition to Hobby Lobby's stance. A recent Rasmussen Reports poll conducted in December showed that 51% of voters do not believe employers should be required to provide health insurance with free contraceptives for female employees.

According to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing Hobby Lobby and its owners, there are currently 91 lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of HHS' mandate.

Objections to the contraception provision have followed two tracks, those filed by non-religious organizations such as Hobby Lobby, and cases brought by religious groups. An order of Catholic nuns, the Little Sisters of the Poor, for example, have secured a Supreme Court injunction against the rules.

Not-for-profits who share the Little Sisters' religious beliefs were expected to seek their own injunctions against complying with the contraception provision after the court acted on the Little Sisters' request Jan. 17. Indeed, the University of Notre Dame this week revived its legal efforts to secure an injunction on the contraception issue.

Follow Rachel Landen on Twitter: @MHrlanden

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