Monday, August 19th, 2019

Hobby Lobby – Is the Drama Over?

Monday, September 15th, 2014

American Hero News
Could It Be That the Hobby Lobby Drama Isn't Over?
by David Lee Smith

With autumn on the horizon, it's somewhat sobering to reflect on the major events that will long define this year's fading summer. Obviously, there has been an array of serious geopolitical confrontations, many of which are likely to linger for years to come.

It's tough, however, to single out one occurrence with a potentially more profound effect on our domestic lifestyle than the U.S. Supreme Court's June decision to support the owners of Hobby Lobby in their quest to prevent the federal government from trampling upon their strongly-held religious beliefs. But while it hasn't been widely publicized, there remains the distinct possibility that congressional Democrats could ultimately revive an earlier effort to quash the court's determination in the case.

Hardly a dashing of contraceptive coverage 

You know the story thus far: The so-called Affordable Care Act was passed into law in 2010. Among its foibles was the mandate of frequently unnecessary and inappropriate medical coverage for those who couldn't possibly need it. For instance, senior citizens would be required to pony up for maternity coverage.

Also required by the ACA were fully 20 types of employer-sponsored contraception coverage. However, the owners and management of Hobby Lobby -- a closely-held Oklahoma-based chain of nearly 600 crafts stores spread nationwide and staffed by about 21,000 employees -- felt that four of the methods included in the edict violated their religious beliefs. As you also likely know, the company's founder and CEO David Green and his team adhere strongly to their Christian tenets.

Indeed, the first of four of its commitments that management takes especially seriously involves "Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles." That, and the other three pledges, are displayed prominently on the company's website.

The four contraceptive approaches to which Hobby Lobby objected involved two so-called "morning after" pills and a pair of intrauterine devices. All, it was argued by management and their supporters, prevented the implantation of a fertilized egg in the mother's womb, thereby constituting a form of abortion. The other 16, including daily birth-control pills, passed the company's muster.

Moving through the courts

As a result, in September 2012 Hobby Lobby filed suit in the U.S. district court of the Western District of Oklahoma, which denied the company's request for a preliminary injunction. From there the case ascended to progressively higher jurisdictions, before being accepted a year ago for consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court. By that time, the action had been tied to a similar effort by Conestoga Wood Specialties, a 1,000-employee Pennsylvania furniture company owned by a Mennonite family.

About two months ago, on the final day of June, by a thin 5 - 4 margin, a Supreme Court's majority, led by Justice Samuel Alito, delivered the ruling in favor of the companies. Alito's majority opinion was accompanied by a concurring one from Justice Anthony Kennedy. The primary dissent -- and a scathing one it was -- was delivered by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Very mixed reactions

There were at least three key reactions to the court's ruling. One was exemplified by a comment by Barbara Green, David's wife, who said, "The court's decision is a victory, not just for our family business, but for all who seek to live out their faith." But the decision was also both castigated and misrepresented by many in the mainstream media who, stated that women's rights to receive support in preventing pregnancies had been egregiously (and totally) abridged. That, despite the willingness of the Greens to provide fully 16 of the 20 forms of contraception enumerated by the ACA.

Third, and easily representing substantial -- and probably ongoing -- potential peril for those who, like the Greens, desire the right to practice their beliefs, a sizable contingent of Democrats in the U.S. Senate sprang into action to offer up a bill to override the Court's decision. Leading the charge in penning a Protect Women's Health from Corporate Interference Act were Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mark Udall (D-CO). A similar bill was proffered in the House of Representatives, but given the Republican majority in that body, it bore little chance for passage.

Precariously close to passage

However, despite receiving only a modicum of publicity, the Senate's Murray-Udall offering -- which began to be referred to as the "Not My Bosses' Business Act" -- came far closer to passage than might have been expected. In mid-July, the full Senate voted it down by a 56 - 43 vote for cloture, indicating that more Senators supported the act than opposed it. Just four more supporting votes would have pushed it toward passage.

It's now quite likely, however, the some Senators will continue to push similar legislation toward passage this year or next. Indeed, at the time of the Act's July defeat, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) entered a motion that would permit a future reconsideration of the cloture vote.

What the future may hold

The November national election could have a profound effect on the prospects for a reemergence of the "Not My Bosses' Business" effort. Conversely, while Hobby Lobby is a privately held company, it's hardly impossible that public companies could move to seek from the judiciary the same sort of confirmation of their rights that the owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties have been accorded.

Future occurrences in this connection may materialize in several different ways. However, all aspects of this historic series of events call resoundingly for intensified support for and attention to those companies that make concerted and courageous efforts to operate on the faith-based moral and ethical principles upon which our country was founded.

More about the author, David Lee Smith

As a consultant and contributing author for American Values Investments, Inc. David Lee Smith is an economist, investment analyst, and writer.  He and his wife, Virginia, are active members of Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church and often enjoy attending sporting events especially UT football, basketball and tennis. 

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