Earlier today, attorney Paul Clement gave oral arguments to the Supreme Court on Hobby Lobby's challenge to the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate. And now, the craft store's social media team is getting in on some of that legal action by defending the company's position on their Facebook page. Good #brand #engagement, Hobby Lobby!
As you might expect, the Facebook conversations aren't quite as civil as today's court proceedings were, although Hobby Lobby itself has a pretty measured response to the criticism it receives — "Hi Katherine," the company responds to one critical comment, "We have no desire to take away women's rights..." An example:
In today's Supreme Court case, Hobby Lobby challenged the health care reform law's requirement that health insurance plans provided by an employer cover birth control for women.
The company argues that its indirect connection to coverage of IUDs and emergency contraceptives violates its religious freedom, which requires that the Supreme Court 1) accept that a for-profit company can exercise religion and 2) that the mandate itself merits a religious freedom claim. Hobby Lobby's objection to the four contraceptives in question: the company's founders believe that they are abortifacients, although much of the mainstream medical community disputes that claim. We've gone into more detail on the case here.
It's a divisive issue, so it's no surprise the Hobby Lobby found its page inundated with messages — for and against their stance — after today's high-profile oral arguments. The company directed both types of commenters to their website and Facebook page dedicated to the case.
And although today's court proceedings were, by necessity, more civil, it's not as if the company got off easy while presenting its arguments there, either. While court watchers believe that the Supreme Court justices overall are either "divided" or leaning towards some of Hobby Lobby's side of the story after today's arguments, the three female justices of the court had some pointed criticisms to discuss with Clement. From the transcript, here's the attorney's attempt to begin his arguments for Hobby Lobby:
MR. CLEMENT: Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court: When a Federal Government agency compelled employers to provide something as religiously sensitive as contraception, it knew that free exercise in RFRA claims would soon follow. In particular, the agency itself provided exemptions and accommodations for the religious exercise of a subset —
JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: Is your claim limited to sensitive materials like contraceptives or does it include items like blood transfusion, vaccines? For some religions, products made of pork? Is any claim under your theory that has a religious basis, could an employer preclude the use of those items as well?
Although today's arguments gave some hints on what the justices think about the case, we'll have to wait until June, probably, for the court's decision.