Ron Paul Expresses Support for Hobby Lobby, Says Lawsuit is About 'Rights,' Not 'Contraception'

Former Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) expressed his support for a Christian retail company suing the federal government over the HHS' "preventive services" mandate.

The former Republican presidential hopeful wrote in a column published on his Institute's website Sunday that Hobby Lobby Inc. has the right to not pay for contraceptives and abortifacients for its employees.

"Much of the discussion has focused on whether a corporation such as Hobby Lobby can even have First Amendment rights. But the issue of 'corporate personhood' is a smokescreen," wrote Paul.

"Hobby Lobby's corporate status has no bearing on whether under Obamacare, Hobby Lobby's owners, about whose personhood there is no doubt, have a right to run their business in a manner consistent with their moral beliefs."

Paul also said forcing Hobby Lobby to pay for preventive services for its employees is "especially offensive" given the company's owners' views on abortion.

"The principle that government can force businesses to violate their religious principals even if those principles conflict with civil law could be applied in ways some Obamacare supporters may find objectionable," wrote Paul.

"For example, what if the government argued that the Pentagon's need for some products produced by a Quaker-owned business trumped the Quaker owner's objections to war?"

In September 2012, Hobby Lobby owners the Green family filed suit against the federal government over the Health and Human Services Department's "preventive services" mandate.

The mandate from HHS requires companies to provide healthcare coverage for various contraceptives, including the controversial morning-after pill.

"We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate," said David Green, CEO and founder of Hobby Lobby, in a statement.

"By being required to make a choice between sacrificing our faith or paying millions of dollars in fines, we essentially must choose which poison pill to swallow."

Hobby Lobby is being represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is overseeing numerous lawsuits across the United States against the mandate.

In June, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, reversing a lower district court ruling against the Oklahoma-based retail chain.

The federal government appealed to the United States Supreme Court in September to hear the case and in late November the highest court in the land agreed to do so.

Critics of the Tenth Circuit decision have argued that the ruling wrongfully grants religious freedom protection to companies.

Writing for the group the Center for American Progress, Julia Mirabella and Sandhya Bathija argued Hobby Lobby succeeding will harm employee religious freedom.

"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?"

Hobby Lobby's case is being heard in conjunction with Conestoga Wood Specialties, a company that lost its appeal before the Third Circuit Court.

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