(HERITAGE FOUNDATION) Even as the House votes to defund Obamacare, citizens are challenging the Obama Administration to defend a part of the law that has already gone into effect: the anti-conscience mandate. Earlier today, five members of the Hahn family, who run Conestoga Wood Specialties, took their fight against the coercive mandate to the Supreme Court.
Conestoga is a kitchen cabinet manufacturer in Pennsylvania employing 950 individuals. Its owners, the Hahns, run their family business according to their Mennonite faith, including offering an employee health plan aligned with those values. Under the Obamacare mandate, however, the Hahns are forced to provide and pay for coverage of abortion-inducing drugs—despite the family’s religious objections. Conestoga Wood could face fines of up to $95,000per day for sticking to their deeply held beliefs and not complying with the mandate.
The Hahns sued to stop the implementation of the mandate, arguing that it violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment as well as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which requires that government action “not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.” RFRA does not define who and what entities qualify as a “person”—and that is precisely the question before the Supreme Court: Does a for-profit business count as a “person” under RFRA and the Free Exercise Clause?