News / USA

US Supreme Court Still to Decide on Controversial Birth Control Case

FILE - Customers enter and exit a Hobby Lobby store in Denver.
FILE - Customers enter and exit a Hobby Lobby store in Denver.
VOA News
Whether for-profit companies with religious objections can be forced to offer coverage for contraceptives in their insurance plans is one of the controversial cases expected to be delivered next week by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In March, the court heard arguments brought by two family-owned companies, including the arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby, over a requirement in the new health care law. The new law requires that contraception be covered - unless the employer is a religious organization.

The administration has made  churches and religious non-profits exempt from the "contraception mandate," but Hobby Lobby and the other company, Mennonite family-owned Conestoga Wood Specialties, contend that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects them as well.
 
FILE - Hobby Lobby co-founders David and Barbara Green are seeking an exemption from part of the federal health care law that requires it to offer employees health coverage that includes access to the morning-after pill.FILE - Hobby Lobby co-founders David and Barbara Green are seeking an exemption from part of the federal health care law that requires it to offer employees health coverage that includes access to the morning-after pill.
x
FILE - Hobby Lobby co-founders David and Barbara Green are seeking an exemption from part of the federal health care law that requires it to offer employees health coverage that includes access to the morning-after pill.
FILE - Hobby Lobby co-founders David and Barbara Green are seeking an exemption from part of the federal health care law that requires it to offer employees health coverage that includes access to the morning-after pill.

The Greens, a Christian family from Oklahoma, owns Hobby Lobby, which has about 500 stores  with more than 16,000 full-time employees. Forbes valued the family’s net worth at $5 billion.

Company President Steve Green argued that if Hobby Lobby’s health insurance plan provided a contraceptive that is used after intercourse – such as the so-called “morning-after pill” – the Greens would be party to an abortion.

“This is an issue of life, that we cannot be a part of taking life. And so to be in a situation where our government is telling us we have to be is incredible,” Green said in a corporate video.

The family released a video in March to explain their decision to challenge the Affordable Care Act.

“People are saying that we are taking rights away from somebody, and there's no way we are taking anybody's rights away,” company founder David Green says in the video while seated on a couch next to his wife, Barbara Green. “It's our rights that are being infringed upon to require us to do something that is against our conscience.”

Tricky legal questions

In determining the case, the Supreme Court will have to consider two tricky legal questions.

One is whether for-profit corporations have a right to religious freedom similar to what the U.S. Constitution gives to citizens.

The other is, even if that’s not the case, whether business owners’ religious rights come before those of their employees.

Polls show that while the overwhelming majority of Americans favor contraceptive coverage, many think business owners who have moral objections should not be forced to provide it.
 
A Hobby Lobby and Conestoga victory could have wide-ranging implications, and may even give license to discrimination, said Caroline Frederickson of the left-leaning American Constitution Society.

A ruling the other way, however, could clear the way for restrictions on religious practice. The example given is a ban on kosher and halal slaughter, as some European countries have instituted, said Lori Windham of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing Hobby Lobby.

Experts say the controversy is particular to America’s system of employer-provided health insurance, and would not be an issue for business owners in a single-payer system in which the state provides health care services.

The other cases expected to be delivered Thursday include abortion clinic buffer zones, presidential recess appointments and labor union rights.

Jerome Socolovsky contributed to this report from Washington. Some information for this report provided by Reuters.

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Bruce from: The USA
June 19, 2014 3:34 PM
No, it is NOT a "tricky legal question" whether the owners' rights "come before those of their employees". The owners' right to free exercise of religion is enshrined in the FIRST Amendment. What employees' "rights" are you talking about? The right to free birth control pills? That's a perk, not a right.

by: Paul from: North America
June 19, 2014 3:04 PM
If the Supreme Court rules in Favor of the Greens, they would not be saying that the religious rights of the Greens are more important than those of their employees. The Greens are not preventing their employees from getting morning after pills. They simply refuse to pay for it. If the Supreme Court rules against the Greens, then the beliefs of the employees would be forced onto the Greens.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More