The Oklahoma attorney general's office and other groups opposed to the Affordable Care Act have filed or plan to file legal briefs in support of Hobby Lobby Stores Inc.'s court battle against the federal government.
Attorneys for Hobby Lobby expect as many 10 amicus curiae briefs to be filed in support of Hobby Lobby this week, said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing the crafts retailer in its court case.
Federal lawmakers, theologians, law professors and other businesses that have challenged the Affordable Care Act also are expected to file briefs in support of Hobby Lobby with the court, Duncan said.
Hobby Lobby is challenging a mandate that is part of the health care law that requires the company to cover the cost of emergency contraceptives such as the morning-after pill for its employees through its employee health plan. Hobby Lobby CEO David Green and his family believe some kinds of emergency contraceptives are a type of abortion and object to covering the pills because of their family's Christian beliefs.
The federal government argues that religious freedoms outlined in the U.S. Constitution don't apply to Hobby Lobby because it is a secular, for-profit corporation.
Tuesday is the deadline for interested parties to file briefs in support of the company with the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt will file a brief in support of Hobby Lobby on Tuesday, said Diane Clay, spokeswoman for the attorney general's office.
Pruitt also has moved to sue the federal government over the Affordable Care Act. The state's lawsuit is pending in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma and challenges various details of the health care law's implementation.
“We feel in the state's lawsuit and also in case of Hobby Lobby that religious liberty and freedoms are being challenged through the Affordable Care Act,” Clay said.
The politically conservative Association of American Physicians and Surgeons also plans to file a brief in support of Hobby Lobby.
That group has monitored Hobby Lobby's court case because of the group's objections to the Affordable Care Act, said Andy Schlafly, a conservative activist and chief legal counsel for the association.
“It's a leading case by a private corporation that objects as a matter of conscience to paying for these abortion-related drugs,” Schlafly said. “We think people should have a right to object based on moral grounds to buying something they don't want to buy. Hobby Lobby has been particularly courageous for standing up for its principles.”
The conservative United States Justice Foundation also has filed a brief with the appellate court in support of Hobby Lobby.
In its court filing, the Justice Foundation argues that the Greens' stance on emergency contraceptives is protected by the First Amendment.
“The mandate forces employers like Hobby Lobby to choose between paying for contraceptives and abortifacient services they find immoral or suffering the imposition of significant fines. If employers want to avoid both of these consequences, they must close their businesses entirely,” The Justice Foundation said in its brief. “For any business owner — though perhaps especially for the Greens, who are running a company that has been family-owned and operated for more than 40 years — this coerced choice from among three equally injurious evils constitutes a substantial burden.”
The Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, an organization that claims some types of contraceptives cause breast cancer, and anti-abortion groups the Bioethics Defense Fund and the Life Legal Defense Foundation, also have notified the court that they intend to file briefs in support of Hobby Lobby.
Hobby Lobby is asking the appellate court for an injunction against the health care law mandate that requires the company to cover emergency contraceptives for its employees. The company has said it faces fines of up to $1.3 million a day for failing to provide the coverage to its employees.
The court is expected to hear oral arguments in Hobby Lobby's case this spring.