Obama administration wants U.S. SC to review ruling in Hobby Lobby case

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- The federal government is taking a case filed against it last year by Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Last week, the government filed a petition for a writ of certiorari, or review, with the nation's high court.

The arts and crafts retailer has until Oct. 21 to file its response, according to the case docket.

In its Sept. 19 petition, the Obama administration points to the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The act states that the government "shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion" unless that burden is the least restrictive means to further a compelling governmental interest.

The administration is asking the Supreme Court to decide that for-profit corporations cannot deny their employees the health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the religious objections of the corporation's owners.

In June, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit sided with Hobby Lobby.

The company sued the federal government in September 2012, arguing that the contraceptive mandate would force "religiously-motivated business owners," such as themselves, to "violate their faith under threat of millions of dollars in fines."

Tenth Circuit found, in its June 27 opinion, that corporations have free exercise rights and that the requirement in President Barack Obama's health care law that employers provide their workers with birth control coverage "substantially burdens" those rights without a compelling governmental interest.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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