The Sunflower State has joined 17 other states in filing a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, Derek Schmidt, Kansas attorney general, said, backing a challenge to a provision of the federal Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, that requires certain employers to pay for and provide services from a government-mandated list of health care services for their employees. The law requires companies to provide health care services to employees that may conflict with the companies religious beliefs, Schmidt’s office said.
“Americans may form a corporation for profit and at the same time adhere to religious principles in their business operation,” Schmidt said. “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.
Schmidt said the Supreme Court previously struck down part of the federal health care law that required states to expand their Medicaid programs, and he is hopeful the Supreme Court also will block the part of the law that requires private employers to violate their 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.’”