by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
David Green, 72, the company’s founder and CEO, called a meeting in the living room of Hobby Lobby’s board chairman, his older son Mart. According to a friend, Steve Green–David’s younger son and the company president–spoke last, using the Bible’s Book of Daniel to review the possible repercussions of litigation. Like the Greens, Daniel was a privileged participant in a culture indifferent to his faith. In one instance, he requested a religious exemption from eating King Nebuchadnezzar’s meat, and it was granted. In another, he was thrown into a lion’s den for praying, but God delivered him, closing the lions’ mouths. Steve reminded his family that there was a third possibility, untreated in Daniel: sometimes God allows those who champion his law over man’s law to suffer. Steve said that he didn’t know which fate awaited them if they joined the suit but that he rested in his belief that they were in the Lord’s hands. He called the family to a vote.
Unanimously, about 19 Greens opted to sue. David subsequently announced, “Our family is now being forced to choose between following the laws of the land that we love or maintaining the religious beliefs that have made our business successful and have supported our family and thousands of our employees and their families. We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.”
Before its current term ends June 30, the Supreme Court will decide whether Hobby Lobby and a smaller co-plaintiff have standing to apply for First Amendment religious protection under a 1993 law called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), and if so, whether the act should be interpreted to award them an exemption from Obamacare’s birth control parameters. If the court rules broadly in the Greens’ favor, it would in effect grant for-profit corporations the same sweeping religious freedoms enjoyed by individuals. That would immediately give the nation a more faith-based cast and invite a wave of corporate piety by American businesses interested in regulatory exemption. A narrower ruling in Hobby Lobby’s favor could carve for religiously focused companies a notable new exemption from certain federal laws. And, of course, a ruling against Hobby Lobby would buoy Obamacare and leave the family with a choice of complying with the birth control provisions in the Affordable Care Act or paying heavy fees.