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The court will review provisions in the Affordable Care Act requiring for profit employers of a certain size to offer insurance benefits for birth control and other reproductive health Saucony Casual Shoes Men
"The fines and implications are, in my mind, astronomical," said Hahn, who employs about 1,000 people. "It devastating to any company."
Conestoga Wood Specialties was founded a half century ago in a Pennsylvania garage. The Hahn family commitment to quality is driven in large part by their Christian faith, which in turn may soon threaten the company very existence. Supreme Court, in a high stakes encore to the health care reform law known as Obamacare. The justices will hear oral arguments Tuesday in a dispute involving contraception coverage and religious liberty.
key funding provision of the health care law, a blockbuster ruling affirming that most Americans would be required to purchase insurance or pay a financial penalty, the so called individual mandate.
Under the ACA, financial penalties of up to $100 per day, per employee can be levied on firms that refuse to provide comprehensive health coverage.
A key issue for the justices will be interpreting a 1993 federal law known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, requiring the government to seek the "least burdensome" and narrowly tailored means for any law that interferes with religious convictions. Can companies, churches, and universities be included, or do the protections apply only to "persons?"
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"Throughout our nation history, corporations have been treated differently than individuals when it comes to fundamental, personal rights of conscience and human dignity," said lawyers for the Constitutional Accountability Center, a progressive public interest legal group. "The First Amendment free exercise guarantee has always been viewed as a purely personal liberty."
services without a co pay. At issue is whether certain companies can refuse to do so on the sincere claim it would violate their owners long established personal beliefs.
The church state issue now in the spotlight involves three pronged rules negotiated last year between the Obama administration and various Reebok Furylite Slip On
Other nonprofit, religiously affiliated groups, such as church run hospitals, parochial schools and charities like the Little Sisters of the Poor, must either offer coverage, or have a third party insurer provide separate benefits without the employer direct involvement. Lawsuits in those cases are pending in several federal appeals courts across the country.
Those drugs include Plan B contraception, which some have called the "morning after" pill.
But lawyers representing the Hahns say they deserve freedom from what they call state intrusion into private moral decisions.
"The question in this case is whether all Americans will have religious freedom and will be able to live and do business according to their faith," said Matt Bowman, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom. "Or whether the federal government can pick and choose what faith is, who are the faithful, and where and when they can exercise that faith."
The justices have a good deal of discretion to frame the competing issues and could reach a limited "compromise" decision through narrow statutory interpretation. They could conclude individual owners can make the religious freedom claim, bypassing the corporate rights argument.
Hobby Lobby, which has about 13,000 workers, estimates the penalty could cost it $475 million a year.
David Green and his family are Hobby Lobby owners and say their evangelical Christian beliefs clash with parts of the law mandates for comprehensive coverage.
The constitutional debate now shifts to the separate employer mandates and whether corporations themselves enjoy the same First Amendment rights as individuals.
The White House has said it believes a requirement on contraception coverage is "lawful and essential to women health" and expressed confidence the Supreme Court would ultimately agree.
The companion legal challenge comes from Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma based retail giant that will have more than 700 arts and crafts stores nationwide by year end. Both corporations emphasize their desire to operate in harmony with biblical principles while competing in a secular marketplace. That includes their leaders publicly stated opposition to abortion.
"Our religion is Mennonite; that is our faith. Our company was founded on that religion as well," said Conestoga President Anthony Hahn, son of the privately held company co founder. "We feel the government has gone too far in too many instances. It been troubling to us as a family."
These suits follow the high court decision two years ago that narrowly upheld the Saucony Jazz Original Vintage
The modest furniture maker pending lawsuit is one of nearly 50 that have been filed in federal courts from various corporations, challenging the birth control coverage benefits in the law championed by President Barack Obama. That law has come in for separate, fierce political criticism over its rocky public introduction last fall.
Obamacare supporters say it does not require individual company owners to personally provide coverage they might object to but instead places that responsibility on the corporate entity.
Two separate appeals will be heard together in the high court one hour public session. A ruling expected by late June could clarify whether businesses have a religious liberty right, or whether such constitutional protections Saucony Fastwitch 7 apply only to individuals.
Under the changes, churches and houses of worship are completely exempt from the contraception mandate.
Three federal appeals courts around the country have struck down the contraception coverage rule, while two other appeals courts have upheld it. That "circuit split" made the upcoming Supreme Court review almost certain.
The large retailer says it already provides coverage for 16 federally approved forms of contraception such as condoms and diaphragms for its roughly 13,000 employees, who Hobby Lobby says represent a variety of faiths.
They say some of the drugs that would be provided prevent human embryos from being implanted in a woman womb, which the Greens equate with abortion.
Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday on 'Hobby Lobby' case
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