Sibelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act, goes before the U.S. Supreme Court today, in what Texas constitutional law experts say will have a 'limited affect' on the future of Obamacare even if the challenge is successful, 1200 WOAI news reports.
The Green family, which owns the closely held 602 store Oklahoma City based craft store chain, says the Obamacare requirement that two separate types of birth control be included in employee health plans violates their religious beliefs. They say the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects them from having to take steps which violate their religious believes just because the government orders them to.
The RFRA says the government cannot unduly burden or restrict a person's religious beliefs, and if that restriction is impossible to avoid, the government must take the 'least restrictive alternative.' The Greens, who are devout Southern Baptists, say the birth control plans may result in the destruction of human embryos and violate their deeply held religious beliefs in the sanctity of human life.
But Josh Blackman, a constitutional law professor at the South Texas College of Law, says the case isn't as big a deal as a lot of commentators have made it out to be.
"This will only affect, at the most, just a few hundred companies nationwide," he told 1200 WOAI news. "This will not have a huge ripple."
The Obama Administration contends that the RFRA was meant to project the freedom of individuals, not corporations, and when a person opens a 'public accommodation' they are bound to follow public laws.
Ironically, the best friend the administration may have is the Court's most conservative member. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in response to the RFRA that allowing too widespread use of religious exemptions might 'excuse the lawbreaking of draft dodgers, tax evaders, child abusers, drug users, traffic violators, animal abusers, employers violating child labor laws, and racist businesspeople."
Blackman says any fallout from the court's ruling will be limited, because few companies are as closely identified with conservative Protestant faith as Hobby Lobby.
"The company closes on Sundays," he said. "They provide religious counseling to their employees. I don't know how many other companies can make the same case.