Oral arguments were heard Tuesday before the Supreme Court in the much anticipated case involving Hobby Lobby and the mandates of the Affordable Care Act. The plaintiffs were represented by Paul D. Clements and Donald B. Verrilli represented the Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius who is charged by her position to ensure that the law is implemented and carried out according to the laws of the United States of America.
It is worth noting that even though Secretary Sebelius is the defendant in this case, it was not necessary that she be present during the proceedings held before the court on Tuesday. Sebelius did make a phone call into the "Keeping It Real" radio program Tuesday hosted by Al Sharpton. She thanked Sharpton for his relentless support in getting the Affordable Care Act passed in Congress. She stated that Sharpton was valuable by drawing attention to the millions of Americans living without adequate health coverage. She pointed out that Sharpton was present at the White House during the signing ceremony placing the bill into law.
During the radio interview the oral arguments happening at the Supreme Court had not been released to the public. Sebelius pointed out the benefits of the law and the fact that the website is "working fine." To those who are still skeptical of the law or have been persuaded by the negative ad campaigns funded by Charles and David Koch to not take advantage of the benefits of the law, she had three words to say, "Just try it."
The lawsuit brought by Hobby Lobby that made its way to the highest court in the land was due to a refusal to provide contraceptive coverage to the employees of that corporation due to religious infringement on that corporation's religious freedoms. On its face this would have been seen as a frivolous lawsuit but after the Supreme Court declared that corporations are people, this was an effort to test the limits of the law as to how far can a corporation go in their new found person hood status.
The three female justices on the court challenged the attorney for Hobby Lobby in a way that only a female could have done. They questioned the attorney in a way that showed empathy for the female employees who would be harmed if the court ruled in favor of the plaintiff. Justice Kennedy in an effort to balance the argument that was clearly going against the idea of "Corporate Religious Freedom," argued on behalf of the corporations point of view.
The talking points used to argue against providing contraceptives is the idea that those opposed to abortion are in essence funding abortions by supporting the Affordable Care Act. It is a known fact that the health care program provide by Hobby Lobby prior to the Affordable Care Act provided contraceptive coverage.
Statistics show that 99 percent of all women have used contraceptives at some point in their lives.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked the question that ultimately will decide the case:
“Is your claim limited to sensitive materials like contraceptives, or does it include items like blood transfusion, vaccines? For some religions, products made of pork? Is any claim under your theory that has a religious basis, could an employer preclude the use of those items as well?”
The final ruling on this case will be decided in June. But until then the question of corporate person hood will be debated on everything from campaign financing to whether a restaurant can refuse services to someone based on a freedom given to corporations that are not given to human beings. With that said, President Obama was correct when he said that, "The Supreme Court decision in Citizens United was a bad decision." The nation waits impatiently to see if the high court will make things better or worst by now giving corporations religious freedoms as well.
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