Supreme Court Hears Landmark Hobby Lobby Case

For Immediate Release: March 25, 2014
Media Contact: Emily Hardman, ehardman@becketfund.org, 202.349.7224

Washington, D.C. – The Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in the landmark case Sebelius v. Hobby Lobbydetermining whether individuals lose their religious freedom when they open a family business.

At issue is the Health and Human Service (HHS) Mandate which requires David and Barbara Green and their family business Hobby Lobby to provide and facilitate four potential life-terminating drugs and devices in their health insurance plan, against their religious convictions, or pay severe fines to the IRS (see video).

“Our family started Hobby Lobby built on our faith and together as a family.  We’ve kept that tradition for more than forty years and we want to continue to live out our faith in the way we do business,” said Barbara Green, co-founder of Hobby Lobby.  “The choice that the government has forced on us is out of step with the history of our great nation founded on religious freedom.  We believe that no American should lose their religious freedom just because they open a family business.  We are thankful that the Supreme Court has heard our case, and we prayerfully await the justices’ decision.”

Founded in an Oklahoma City garage in 1972, the Green family has grown Hobby Lobby from one 300-square-foot retail space into more than 500 stores in over 40 states.  Devout Christians, the Green family believes that “it is by God’s grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured” and seek to run their company “in a manner consistent with Biblical principles.”  This includes closing on Sundays and generous treatment of their employees with full-time hourly workers starting at 90 percent above the federal minimum wage. The Greens and their family businesses have no moral objection to providing 16 of the 20 FDA-approved contraceptives under the HHS mandate, and will continue to provide a broad range of contraceptives at no additional cost to their employees.

“No one should be forced to give up their constitutionally protected civil rights just to open a family business,” said Lori Windham, Senior Counsel for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and counsel for Hobby Lobby. “This case demonstrates in no uncertain terms that the government’s efforts to strip this family business of its religious rights represent a gross violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment.”

In court today former United States Solicitor General Paul Clement argued on behalf of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, two family businesses whose cases were consolidated before the court. Clement argued that Hobby Lobby and Conestoga are protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and that nothing in the law excludes these family businesses and their owners from religious freedom protections.

The Court is expected to rule on the case before the end of its current term in June.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty  is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions—from Anglicans to Zoroastrians. For 18 years its attorneys have been recognized as experts in the field of church-state law. The Becket Fund recently won a 9-0 victory in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, which The Wall Street Journal called one of “the most important religious liberty cases in a half century.”    For more information, or to arrange an interview with one of the attorneys, please contact Emily Hardman, Communications Director, at ehardman@becketfund.org or call 202.349.7224.

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