CNN's Costello Thinks Hobby Lobby 'Imposing Its Will' on Employees

The owners of Hobby Lobby Stores object on religious grounds to the HHS mandate that they cover abortion-inducing drugs for employees, but CNN's Carol Costello thinks the objection itself is an imposition of will.

"So isn't Hobby Lobby imposing its will on those workers?" she asked on Wednesday. "I think that when it's left up to companies to decide which drug is right for women, then actually you're making the decision for them as much as the government is," she added later.

Costello sighed loudly before trying to paint Hobby Lobby owners as hypocrites. "Hobby Lobby says the government is forcing the company to follow a law against its own beliefs. There are likely some Hobby Lobby employees who, one, don't feel that these pills cause abortions, because there's controversy about that. And, two, want access to them," she argued.

The Becket Fund's Kyle Duncan swatted that argument down. "Hobby Lobby is not the government. Hobby Lobby can't force its employees not to take drugs or to take drugs or to do anything. All Hobby Lobby can do is say look, this is how we're going to run our business," he stated.         

"Hobby Lobby's employees are free to do what they want with their doctors and to purchase whatever drugs they like, to do whatever they want. But the Greens are simply asking for the same kind of freedom," he continued.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on CNN Newsroom on November 28 at 9:38 a.m. EST, is as follows:

CAROL COSTELLO: Well, consider this. Hobby Lobby says the government is forcing the company to follow a law against its own beliefs. There are likely some Hobby Lobby employees who, one, don't feel that these pills cause abortions, because there's controversy about that. And, two, want access to them. So isn't Hobby Lobby imposing its will on those workers?

KYLE DUNCAN: Well, no Carol, they're not. Because Hobby Lobby is not the government. Hobby Lobby can't force its employees not to take drugs or to take drugs or to do anything. All Hobby Lobby can do is say look, this is how we're going to run our business. These are the kind of benefits we're going to provide. They provide generous and comprehensive benefits and they just want to not be forced to pay for this small subset of drugs. They don't want to control their employees.

Hobby Lobby and the Green family are well aware that there are thousands of women who work for Hobby Lobby, because Hobby Lobby provides them with good jobs, and that millions of women around the country shop at Hobby Lobby. So Hobby Lobby does not see this in any way as an access question. Access to contraceptives in our society today is widespread. And nobody really denies that. This is a conscience issue, however. This is the same kind of conscience issue that's presented when someone, for instance, doesn't want to participate in a war, doesn't want to participate in the death penalty, doesn't want to, for instance, swear an oath. We have a long tradition in American law of exempting people, of excusing people from requirements like this that would cause them to violate their conscience. And all the Green family is asking for is to be excused from this one small subset of drugs. They don't want to impose anything on anybody. They just don't want to be forced to violate their conscience or have to pay millions of dollars in fines that would cripple the family business.

COSTELLO: I think – and this will be the last question. I think that when it's left up to companies to decide which drug is right for women, then actually you're making the decision for them as much as the government is.

DUNCAN: Hobby Lobby's employees are free to do what they want with their doctors and to purchase whatever drugs they like, to do whatever they want. But the Greens are simply asking for the same kind of freedom. One big theme in this lawsuit is that religious freedom is for everybody. What the government seems to be saying here is that religious freedom may be for churches, houses of worship and religious groups like that, but not for people who are in business, who run a family business, who are out to make a living.

So, imagine the kosher butcher for example, who is out there, he's in business, or she's in business, and she's running a business that's got an obvious religious component to it. Hobby Lobby does the same thing. Hobby Lobby, for instance, closes on Sundays. They lose millions of dollars a year, they close on Sundays to give their employees a day of rest. This is a religious conviction. They take out adds every Christmas and Easter that are evangelical ads. This is a religious exercise. They provide their employees with spiritual counseling if they want it, with all sorts of things like that. So all they're asking to do is not to have their conscience violated in this way.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014