March 2014 Church & State | AU Bulletin

Americans United and a collection of religious groups urged the U.S. Supreme Court in a friend-of-the-court brief to rule against the owners of secular corporations that want to deny their employees access to birth control.

The cases, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, concern two for-profit companies whose owners do not want to comply with the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, arguing that it violates their religious freedom. The mandate requires most employers to provide workers with insurance plans offering access to no-cost birth control.

“The Supreme Court must reject a theory of religious freedom that allows employers to meddle in and control the private lives of their workers,” said Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United.

The Obama administration has already created generous exemptions for religious ministries and charities. If the owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood succeed, the religious beliefs of employers would take precedence over those of their employees.

The Supreme Court has consolidated the cases and will hear oral arguments in them this month. A decision is not expected until late spring or early summer.

Two dozen religious organizations joined AU on the brief, among them the Anti-Defamation League, the Hindu American Foundation, the National Coalition of American Nuns and the Metropolitan Community Church.