A divided Supreme Court argued Tuesday whether the religious beliefs of business owners could exempt them from providing their employees insurance coverage for all types of contraceptives under a requirement in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Simply put, the question at hand was to what extent could a corporation exercise their religious beliefs over not only social morals, but the law as well. What is this, Arizona?
Two companies, Conestoga Wood Specialties and Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., have appealed this mandate on the grounds that they have a right and desire to act with their own personal beliefs, even in the market place.
According to a Tuesday CNN article, the key issue on the bench is the interpretation of the 1993 federal law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This law requires the government to seek the “least burdensome” way for a law to impede on religious convictions. Well, denying employees the right to insurance-covered contraceptives is putting a pretty big burden on them — a burden they are legally bound to for 18 years, to be exact.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who may be the decisive vote by late June, said those in opposition to the government mandate believe employers should be able to restrict the rights of their employees under this healthcare plan.
Kennedy asked Paul Clement, representative of the owners of Conestoga Wood Specialties and Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., “The employee may not agree with these religious beliefs of the employer. Do the religious beliefs just trump? Is that the way it works?”
The government needs to value individual human beings over the thoughts of one corporation, and therefore corporations should not have the privilege of exerting their “religious freedom” in a workplace if it will hinder their employees’ mandated rights.
Large corporations are run by one person or a small group of people, but take hundreds to function. Allowing the higher powers in companies to decide whether or not their employees can receive coverage for the contraceptives would perpetuate a classist distinction in the work place.
Religious freedom is warranted, but not when it infringes the rights of others. The mandated healthcare coverage legally belongs to the employees.
At the same time, many employees may not even want to use the insurance coverage due to their own religious beliefs — especially those with Hobby Lobby. But just because an employee may not want to take advantage of the insurance coverage, that does not mean he or she should be denied the option.