- (Photo: Hobby Lobby)
A retail giant that sued the federal government over the Department of Health and Human Services' mandate that requires religious employers to cover emergency contraceptives that can cause early abortion has asked the United States Supreme Court to review the case.
Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. sent a petition on Monday to the highest court in the land agreeing with the federal government's request for appeal regarding a lower court decision.
Although Hobby Lobby recently won an exemption from the mandate before the full court of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, the company believes that the Supreme Court should weigh in on the matter.
"The issues presented in the government's petition are indeed important, and the circuits are now hopelessly divided on critical questions of standing and religious liberty," reads the petition in part.
"Respondents respectfully suggest that the considered decision of the en banc Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals is correct. Nonetheless, respondents agree with the government that, in light of the importance of the issues and the division in the circuits, plenary review by this Court is warranted."
In September 2012, Hobby Lobby filed suit against the federal government over the HHS mandate due to religious objections the company's owners had to providing "morning-after" Plan B and "week-after" Ella One pills.
"The government is saying we have to provide prescriptions that are abortive and that violate our conscience, because we believe that life begins at conception and it's something that we have no desire to fully fund, which is what the mandate requires," said Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby, in an earlier interview with The Christian Post.
In late June, the Tenth Circuit Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, overruling a lower court decision against the company. Last month, the federal government filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.
Critics of the Tenth Circuit decision have argued that the ruling wrongfully grants religious freedom protection to companies.
Writing for the left-wing organization the Center for American Progress, Julia Mirabella and Sandhya Bathija argued that Hobby Lobby succeeding harms the religious freedom of its employees.
"If the Supreme Court were to side with Hobby Lobby, it would be another piece of pro-corporate precedent from an increasingly pro-business court. Such a decision would also impact how we define religious liberty in America," wrote Mirabella and Bathija.
"Will corporations soon be permitted to override the religious-freedom rights of their employees? What other types of exemptions will these corporations have? Will these companies be free to disregard all civil rights laws barring discrimination?"
Throughout its lengthy legal issues, Hobby Lobby has been represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
Kyle Duncan, general counsel of the Becket Fund and lead lawyer for Hobby Lobby, said in a statement that having the Supreme Court hear the case was important for companies and groups across the country.
"Right now, some courts recognize the rights of business owners like the Green family, and others do not. Religious freedom is too important to be left to chance," said Duncan.
"The Supreme Court should take this case and protect religious freedom for the Green family and Hobby Lobby."