The popular arts and crafts store Hobby Lobby is seeking a religious exemption from covering certain forms of contraception it would be required to provide under the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act. The case is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, with oral arguments set to begin this spring.
“Granting the exemption would shift the cost of accommodating Hobby Lobby’s religious exercise to employees who do not share its beliefs,” argued Elizabeth Sepper, JD, associate professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis. “Such cost shifting violates the Establishment Clause.” The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment “prohibits the government from shifting the costs of accommodating a religion from those who practice it to those who do not,” she said.
Sepper is one of several experts who authored an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief to the Supreme Court arguing that Hobby Lobby’s request is unconstitutional.
The legal brief states that a religious exemption for Hobby Lobby would mean that a “business owner in the United States will be empowered to reject insurance coverage for contraception or any other medical prescription, procedure, treatment, or health service it finds religiously objectionable.”