ACA’s day in court

The government involves themselves in every aspect of our lives. Now, they have overstepped boundaries by enforcing the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, challenging our religious liberties.

That is the focus of the Supreme Court case Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius.

Originally, Hobby Lobby qualified for exemption from the ACA because of its religious values. However, the government then proposed a new rule excluding companies like Hobby Lobby because the government did not consider them religious employers.

The issue here is whether the mandate goes against the Constitution and affects religious freedom.

This is not exactly black and white; if it were, then there would not be as much controversy surrounding it. However, I think it is wrong for a government to force companies to provide health care going against their religious beliefs, whatever those beliefs may be.

One of the arguments against this case is that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act states “persons” are protected against laws threatening their religious beliefs. Though this side could argue against Hobby Lobby being considered “persons,” they would ultimately be disproved.

“According to the Dictionary Act, unless context stated otherwise, ‘person’ … include(s) corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies and joint stock companies, as well as individuals,” said senior and President of Guilford Republicans Will Moore.

Not only does this definition support Hobby Lobby, but so does Citizens United v. FEC, the case ruled that companies essentially are persons. This ruling protected freedom of speech for companies; because of this, I believe they also have religious freedoms.

“The RFRA (states) the government should not place any substantial burden on your religious freedom unless that is the least restrictive way to meet a compelling government interest,” said chair and Associate Professor of Political Science Maria Rosales.

The fact that we even enacted the RFRA in 1993 is nonsense, because our religious liberties are already protected in the First Amendment of the Constitution. Since we have both the RFRA and the First Amendment, this contraceptive mandate now violates two legal documents.

However, the 10th circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled the government was not able to articulate a compelling interest for Hobby Lobby to pay close to $475 million more in taxes every year.

“Companies feel coerced into embracing this act that goes against their religious beliefs,” said Don Barefoot, CEO of Christian organization C12, in a phone interview with The Guilfordian. “(The government) has this weird view that corporations are these nameless, faceless bohemians that are all about profit (at the) expense of people.”

Another issue in this case is that Hobby Lobby did provide contraceptives in their previous employee health care plan, but they did not intend to provide health care allowing for aborting fertilized eggs, which goes against their religious values.

“I think it is incredibly hard to argue that providing insurance that your employees may or may not choose to use to get contraception is a substantial burden on your religious freedom,” said Rosales in opposition to Hobby Lobby’s position. “If that is a substantial burden on your religious freedom, then so is paying a salary that they may or may not use to get contraception.”

After evaluating that side of her argument, I concluded that once an employee earns that money, it belongs to the employee, not the employer. Employee-based health care benefits are different, because if the employee leaves the job, the benefits are terminated with the job.

I believe the Supreme Court will have to rule with Hobby Lobby in order to uphold our constitutional rights. This country was founded on freedoms, amongst them religious freedom. This is also a country that has been known for being a country of opportunity; people and businesses create that opportunity.

Corporations should be protected under the Constitution. Anything less than that would lead to distrust of the American government by the American people.