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Hobby Lobby is heading toward D.C. this year—but it won't be to set up shop for craft-staved Washingtonians. Rather, the evangelical-owned retail craft chain aims to appear before the Supreme Court in 2014.

Days before the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges opened enrollment October 1, the craft-chain giant got an unexpected boost . The government itself appealed to the high court and asked it to hear the case regarding the ACA employer-provided contraception mandate.

That's good news for Hobby Lobby, as well as the plaintiffs in 71 other lawsuits pending against the ACA, says Mark Rienzi, senior legal counsel for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

"When the solicitor general asks a court to take a court in which some federal law has been found invalid, as in the Hobby Lobby case, the court usually takes that," he said. "If they take the case, they're going to have to resolve the religious liberty claim."

According to the government's Hobby Lobby petition, the Supreme Court must decide whether or not a for-profit corporation can "deny its employees the health coverage of contraceptives … based on the religious objections of the corporation's owners."

The move was unusual for the government, which hasn't pushed back in the majority of cases when judges granted injunctions, says Kim Colby, senior counsel for the Christian Legal Society (CLS).

Until the Hobby Lobby case, the government had pushed back only in one particular case, Gilardi v. Sebellius, in order for it to become the "test case for the D.C. Circuit," Religion Clause's Howard Friedman noted earlier this summer.

The government's hopes for Gilardi ...

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October 2013

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