Friday, May 24, 2013

Full 10th Circuit Hears Oral Arguments In Hobby Lobby Case

Yesterday, in the most prominent of the many cases filed by small businesses challenging the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage mandate, an 8-judge en banc panel of the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in  Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. v. Sebelius. In an unusual procedure the court previously decided to hear the case en banc without it first being heard by a 3-judge panel. (See prior posting.) While the 10th Circuit does not make audio recordings of oral arguments available, AP reported on the arguments.  Hobby Lobby's attorney, citing the Supreme Court's Citizen's United case, argued that corporations have protected religious liberty rights. He said that Hobby Lobby is a "profit-making company, yes, but also a ministry."  The Justice Department argued: "If you make an exemption for the employer, it comes at the expense of the employee" who is unable to get health care coverage.