Outside the Supreme Court, a late-March snow fell as activists talked, held banners and prayed. Inside the hallowed halls, the justices debated whether companies should be forced to provide employee health care coverage that involves violating their owners’ religious principles.
The controversy surrounding this contentious issue has nothing to do with limiting access to birth control, as most of the mainstream media seems to believe, but protecting the religious freedom of those -- including religious sisters who serve the elderly poor -- who can’t in good conscience participate in policies that cover contraceptives and abortion procedures.
As the snow piled up on the benches outside the Court, Ed and Barbara Green walked down the steps. The Greens are the evangelical family who run the Hobby Lobby arts and craft chain.
“The choice that the government has forced on us is out of step with the history of our great nation founded on religious freedom,” Barbara Green said. “We believe that no American should lose their religious freedom just because they open a family business.”
As Anthony Hahn, the Mennonite CEO of Conestoga Wood, a cabinet-making company in Pennsylvania, and a co-plaintiff with the Greens, explained how he got to the last place he ever expected to find himself -- in front of cameras at the Supreme Court -- his wife, Carolyn, looked radiant. The Hahns and the Greens know what a gift religious liberty is, and they won’t give it up without a fight.
The Department of Justice argues that people give up their religious-liberty rights when they go into business, and given the fact that many are willing to restrict their religious beliefs to Sunday worship, weddings and funerals, it’s a believable position.
While in Rome on political business recently, President Obama took time to meet with Pope Francis. The White House had hoped to benefit from papal popularity and divert attention away from the Obamacare debate in the Supreme Court.