OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma officials expressed support Tuesday for Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. as attorneys argued before the U.S. Supreme Court over the federal health care law’s mandate that employers offer emergency contraceptives like the morning-after pill.
Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby is challenging the law’s mandate that health plans include all forms of birth control for women, including emergency contraceptives its owners claim can cause abortions.
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday on a request by Hobby Lobby’s owners, the Green family, that the company be exempt from sections of the law they say violate their religious beliefs.
Attorney General Scott Pruitt said the law’s contraception mandate asks Hobby Lobby’s owners to violate their faith or face excessive fines.
“Our Founding Fathers established a system to protect us from this type of coercive federal infringement on religious liberty,” said Pruitt, whose office filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of Hobby Lobby. “Lower courts have rightfully concluded that federal law protects the religious freedoms of Hobby Lobby and the Green Family.”
Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., said companies should not be fined into oblivion if their religious beliefs do not match the health care law. Hobby Lobby faces a fine of $36,500 per employee per year if is refuses to comply with the coverage requirement.
“The president and his administration cannot tell a person that they can practice their faith at home but they cannot practice their faith at work,” Lankford said. “It is time for the court to deliberate and decide to protect every family-owned business’ right to freely practice their religion in opposition to the anti-freedom mandates in the administration’s health care law.”
“Hobby Lobby has long been known in Oklahoma and across the country for incorporating faith when running its many stores and businesses,” said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla. “This is a choice they never should be forced to make.”
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