Hobby Lobby Case: The Law and the Arguments

Oklahoman Published: March 23, 2014
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Religious Freedom Restoration Act

(a) In General: Government shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in subsection (b).

(b) Exception: Government may substantially burden a person's exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person —

(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and

(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

What Hobby Lobby argues

•Corporations, not just individuals, are protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

•The contraception mandate is a burden on Hobby Lobby’s free exercise of religion because it requires the closely held corporation to violate its religious beliefs by offering health insurance that covers four types of contraception that could prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb. Should the company not offer those four types, it would face severe financial penalties; if the company dropped health coverage all together, it would have to pay assessments for each employee and suffer competitively against similar companies that provide health insurance to recruit and retain workers.

•The federal government hasn’t shown a compelling interest in forcing Hobby Lobby to provide the four contraceptives at issue because its goals of public health and gender equality are too broad, and the numerous exceptions — for religious groups and to companies with “grandfathered” health plans — weaken its stated objectives.


by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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