Landmark Hobby Lobby Case Could Establish For-Profit Religious Boundaries

Under federal law, women are now covered for birth control, despite the provider. Hobby Lobby, a craft retail store giant whose closest competitor is Michaels Crafts stores, is challenging that provision. Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments pertaining to this central question: “Can bosses, who have a religious objection to birth control, deny their female employees contraceptives coverage?”

The case is unique because the employer or entity is not a religious organization, rather Hobby Lobby is a private, secular, for-profit business. Opponents of Hobby Lobby are highly critical of a person’s subjective ability to determine benefits for an employee. “Where will this end?…What could be next? Could our bosses decide on religious grounds that they don’t want to offer us vaccinations?” said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

The Supreme Court will determine, if, in fact, a company can exercise religion or invoke religious beliefs. Empirically, courts have ruled the opposite. “No matter how sincere the religious belief, they cannot be invoked to discriminate against someone.” For instance, a company cannot refuse benefits to a single mother because, on religious grounds, the boss believes a woman cannot be the head of a household.

This case has the potential to shake up a company’s role and ability in determining the livelihood of its employees.