TOPEKA – (January 31, 2014) – Kansas is backing Hobby Lobby in its legal challenge to the federal government’s authority to require a family-owned business to violates its sincerely held religious beliefs in the name of health care reform, Attorney General Derek Schmidt said today.
Kansas and 17 other states earlier this week filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court backing a challenge to a provision of the federal Affordable Care Act, also called ‘Obamacare,’ that purports to require certain employers to pay for and provide a government-mandated list of health care services to their employees. The required coverage includes certain health care services that conflict with the sincerely held religious beliefs of some Americans, including those families that own the companies challenging the law.
“Americans may form a corporation for profit and at the same time adhere to religious principles in their business operation,” the attorneys general wrote. “This is true whether it is the [plaintiffs in this case] operating their businesses based on their Christian principles, a Jewish-owned deli that does not sell non-kosher foods, or a Muslim-owned financial brokerage that will not lend money for interest. The idea is as American as apple pie.”
Hobby Lobby, Inc., a family-owned corporation, challenged the mandate in federal court in Oklahoma. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Kansas, sided with the company and against the federal government. In a separate challenge, a company called Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation, which is also family owned, launched a similar challenge but a different federal appeals court sided with the federal government. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the dispute, and oral arguments are scheduled for March 25.
Noting that the Supreme Court previously struck down part of the federal health care law that purported to order states to expand their Medicaid programs, Schmidt said he is hopeful the Supreme Court also will block the part of the law that purports to order private employers to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs.
“The power of the federal government is not unlimited, and we need to be ever-vigilant to object when Washington overreaches,” Schmidt said. “As we are arguing to the Supreme Court in this case, states like Kansas ‘have a substantial interest in protecting religious liberty as one of the central features of American self-governing society. Religious liberty is a foundational freedom.’ ”