The 10th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals is granting Hobby Lobby a full court hearing challenging the Obamacare regulation that requires religious employers to cover Plan B and Ella One emergency contraceptives that can cause an early abortion.
Kyle Duncan, general counsel for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty who's representing Hobby Lobby in its case Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius, told The Christian Post on Tuesday that the 10th Circuit's decision is significant, because "very rarely does the court grant a full court hearing."
On March 29, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colo., informed Hobby Lobby that all nine judges would hear the case, instead of the usual three-judge panel.
"This is an unusual occurrence," said Duncan, who believes that it's "important for all justices to weigh in now," because their decision will affect the rights of all religious business owners. "The issue is extremely important and merits a full court review."
Duncan believes the government is taking the position that if you're in a profit-driven business, you have no nights. "Business owners ought to be able to go into a court and argue that their rights should be protected," Duncan said. "This case is at the forefront of the challenge to the mandate."
Duncan was a guest on Fox News' "On the Record" with Greta Van Susteren Monday night and emphasized the company's stance on contraceptives by stating that: "Hobby Lobby has no objections to most contraceptives. They're objecting to a narrow subset of drugs – sometimes called emergency contraceptives – that violates their belief that life should be protected from the moment of conception."
"The government admits that these drugs can act that way – to put newly conceived life at risk," said Duncan, reiterating the point that Hobby Lobby shouldn't be forced to pay for emergency contraception for its employees.
"The only issue here is whether Hobby Lobby and the Green family, who own Hobby Lobby, can be forced to violate their religious beliefs to cover this narrow subset of drugs, or whether the government can threaten them with draconian penalties to force them to give up their faith."
Duncan told Van Susteren that the "penalties could be enormous," for Hobby Lobby, because the mandate requires businesses to cover the morning after pill (Plan B) and the week after pill (Ella One) or pay fines of up to $1.3 million per day.
"Whatever the penalties are though, Hobby Lobby's not going to back down," Duncan said. "And Hobby Lobby has no intention of closing. They have no intention of backing down in this fight. ... They believe they have very strong claims."
According to the Becket Fund website, there are 52 separate lawsuits challenging the Health and Human Services mandate. The 10th Circuit judges will hear arguments for the Hobby Lobby case this spring.
Members of the Green family have been outspoken about their Christian faith and their belief that requiring their family-owned businesses to pay for emergency contraceptives conflicts with their biblically-held beliefs and constitutionally protected freedoms.