Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) protested that if the Supreme Court of the United States rules that Hobby Lobby does not have to provide birth control insurance for its employees, it would potentially open the door for other types of discrimination.
Two private companies, Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., are suing the United States government over a provision in the Affordable Care Act that mandates that large employers must offer employees health coverage which includes contraception or pay a fine. Hobby Lobby doesn’t want to include birth control in its healthcare coverage because of its owners’ religious beliefs.
Murray claims that this would be a slippery slope if SCOTUS rules in their favor. “If these CEOs are allowed to evade this law, what would happen to other legal protections for employees?” Murray asked Tuesday. “Could your boss decide not to cover HIV treatment? Could an employer opt out of having to comply with anti-discrimination laws? Corporations should not be able to use religion as a license to discriminate.”
According to reporters at the hearing, the court is divided. Barbara Green, of the family who owns Hobby Lobby, said that she was “encouraged” by today’s oral arguments in a brief statement outside of the court. Her attorney Lori Windham, Senior Counsel of the Becket Fund, contends that the Supreme Court justices were “deeply skeptical” of the government’s arguments against their case.
The Washington senator insists that the companies’ religious foibles effectively turn back the clock on women’s reproductive rights: “Allowing a woman’s boss to call the shots about her access to birth control should be inconceivable to all Americans in this day and age, and takes us back to a place in history when women had no voice and no choice.”
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) sees things through differently colored glasses. He believes that Hobby Lobby should have the right not to provide contraception as an element of a healthcare plan if it contradicts the owners’ personal morals. Tuesday on the Senate floor, Inhofe stated, “There is a man who has built up a company and is employing actively 16,000 people… and along comes the Obama administration and Obamacare, says we’re going to fine you $1.3 million a day if you don’t allow these abortions.”