The federal government is asking a judge to rule against Hobby Lobby, whose owners do not want to provide their employees with insurance coverage for “abortion-causing drugs and devices.”
Founder David Green and other owners of the Oklahoma City-based retail chain sued in September in federal court in Oklahoma City.
They are asking U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton to prevent the government from enforcing new health care rules on their business “and other individuals and organizations that object on religious grounds to providing insurance coverage for abortion-causing drugs and devices and related education and counseling.”
A hearing on a preliminary injunction request is set for Nov. 1.
In a response this week, government attorneys argued the owners cannot raise religious objections to “the preventive services coverage regulations” because Hobby Lobby is a for-profit, secular corporation.
“To hold otherwise would permit for-profit, secular corporations and their owners to become laws unto themselves,” the attorneys wrote.
“Because there are an infinite variety of alleged religious beliefs, such companies and their owners could claim countless exemptions from an untold number of general commercial laws designed to protect against unfair discrimination in the workplace and to protect the health and well-being of individual employees and their families.
“Such a system would not only be unworkable, it would also cripple the government's ability to solve national problems.”
At issue is the Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare.
In the lawsuit, the Hobby Lobby owners describe themselves as “committed evangelical Christians.” They complain the regulations would force religiously motivated business owners like themselves “to violate their faith under threat of millions of dollars in fines.”
Hobby Lobby has more than 13,000 full-time employees in more than 500 stores, which are closed on Sundays in keeping with the owners' beliefs.