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MORNING EXAMINER: Supreme Court will decide if Obamacare can ignore First Amendment

Those nine black-robed justices on the U.S. Supreme Court have agreed to decide two of the most important cases in the panel's history. (AP Photo)

Those nine black-robed justices on the U.S. Supreme Court have agreed to decide two of the most important cases in the panel's history.

The cases are Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius. Both are centered on the question of whether the federal government can mandate a business to provide a service that conflicts with the owners' religious beliefs.

Both cases arose from Obamacare's birth control mandate, which attorneys for each of the plaintiffs argue violates the First Amendment's bar on Congress making any law respecting religious freedom.

A fundamental issue

The issue here is fundamental: Does any individual have to check his or her religious faith, or lack thereof, at the door when entering the public square, including in the place where he or she earns a living?

Hobby Lobby is being represented by the Beckett Fund, while Conestoga Wood is being represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Hobby Lobby is an Oklahoma City-based retail chain owned by founder David Green and his family, who are Baptists. Conestoga Wood in Lancaster County, PA., is owned by David Hahn and his family, who are Mennonite Christians.

What's at stake?

There are four major concerns involved in these two cases, according to ADF:

* "The freedom to live according to our faith and to honor God in our work.

* "Freedom from the threat of crippling fines for resisting illegal government mandates.

* "Freedom from government intrusion on a family business' private moral decisions.

* "The free and full participation of people of faith in all areas of public life, including the marketplace."

Supreme Court cases don't often get more fundamental than that. The High Court will combine the two cases in one decision that will be announced sometime in 2014.

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