Hobby Lobby Workers, Shoppers Talk About Supreme Court Case Set to Start on Tuesday
March 23, 2014 at 2:29 AM CDT - Updated July 10 at 10:37 AM
Anum Valliani NewsWest 9
WEST TEXAS - They're closed on Sundays, the work day is a little shorter and they certainly don't allow for their workers to be provided certain birth control, that's just how it is at Hobby Lobby and other stores owned by David Green and his family. But employees could see changes regarding their benefits soon. It all depends on what happens at their Supreme Court case starting Tuesday.
Currently workers don't get insured for all contraceptive use because owners believe it goes against their faith. But Obamacare requires them to offer it.
"But now the federal government tells them they have to choose between following the state and following the law," Adele Keim, legal counsel with The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said.
The Department of Health and Human Services passed a regulation about a year after the Affordable Care Act, stating that any company that offers group health insurance has to allow all FDA approved contraceptives.
"Now the Green's at Hobby Lobby have no problem with contraceptives, and indeed they've always covered things like the pill in their plans however, they do object to ones that may cause abortion," Keim said.
That includes emergency contraceptives like the "morning after pill", Plan B and "the week after pill", "Ella" and two others.
So the company has taken the case to Supreme Court in Sebelius vs. Hobby Lobby. The question for the justices to answer is whether people will be able to live and do business according to their faith. However, proponents for Obamacare might contend that the right to affordable and equal care for workers across companies is a right in its own that should not be sacrificed by someone else's religious beliefs.
"Americans have the right to access birth control. And anyone, including those employees of the Green's can do so, these drugs are widely available. The Green's just don't want to be involved in providing them. They just want to stay out of those decisions and leave them for their employees," Keim said, adding that the Greens have engaged in this practice for a long time but now the family is facing fines if they don't budge.
The fines would be $100 dollars per day per employee, roughly $36,000 every year per person. Or they could pay a flat rate of $2,000 per employee if they dropped their insurance.
But "the Green's religious convictions prevent them from leaving their employees out in the cold," Keim said.
Employees like Saul Barron of Midland stand by the company's side. He believes the government is, "sticking their hands in things they shouldn't be." He said, "They keep taking away rights and it keeps going further and further and no one's doing anything about it."
That's why he believes this case will be important in re-instilling one of our founding rights. Ms. Smith, who preferred not to disclose her full name and is not an employee of Hobby Lobby, agrees on the impact the lawsuit could have. But she says it's because it will give workers who might have kept quiet, the chance to speak up about their right to this basic coverage, thereby opening the company's eyes to exactly what they are- and aren't offering- their workers.
"Nobody should get, what I call 'low-balled' for anything. They're working for their insurance so they should get what they feel like they deserve," she said.
"If that's what you want to do, the blood shouldn't be on their hands, it should be on yours," Barron said.