Depending on who you ask about Hobby Lobby’s battle with the Supreme Court, you’re likely to get an answer that is either entirely black or entirely white. Like many issues, however, this one is much more nuanced than many people make it out to be. Such issues can lead to a great deal of head-scratching—or worse, an overall sense of apathy toward the outcome. Whether we want to admit it or not, the Supreme Court’s decision does matter in the long run. Below are several facts to help you clear up the debate and start asking the right questions.
1) The Affordable Health Care Act requires for-profit companies to include contraceptives in their health insurance plans.
This includes IUDs and morning-after pills—which Hobby Lobby’s Southern Baptist owners claim interfere with the creation of life once an egg is fertilized. Because of his family’s religious beliefs, the mandate does not sit well with Hobby Lobby president Steve Green. “We believe that the principles that are taught scripturally is what we should operate our lives by… and so we cannot be a part of taking life,” he said. By providing his employees with such contraceptives, the Hobby Lobby owners say they will be going against their faith.
2) Religious nonprofits are exempted from this requirement, but for-profits are not.
As of right now, for-profit corporations cannot cite religious objections no matter what the owner believes. That’s what is being debated right now. Can a for-profit company be considered a religious organization for the purpose of federal law? And if so, what other things could they claim to be exempt from on the basis of being a religious organization? Another important question to ask: since many of the people working for Hobby Lobby are not religious, can and should the employees be forced to share the beliefs of its owners?
3) By opting not to provide insurance altogether, Hobby Lobby will pay up to $26 million a year in fines.
This is less than the company currently spends on insurance, but—again—not providing insurance would be against Hobby Lobby’s values. So just to be clear, the issue has nothing to do with money. Letting the issue slide would actually be considerably cheaper for the company than the path they’re taking now. What the issue boils down to then is simply doing what the company feels is morally right.
A decision on the case is expected this summer.