"If you make an exemption for the employer, it comes at the expense of the employee," said Alisa Klein, who argued the government's case in a similar contraceptives mandate appeal heard Wednesday in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.
Klein talked about an imaginary Hobby Lobby employee who is told by her doctor she needs a type of intrauterine contraceptive that she is entitled to having covered under the new health care law. But because of her employers' religion, "the next sentence would be, unfortunately you have to pay $500 to $900," Klein argued.
She also compared the Hobby Lobby claim to arguments from pacifists that they shouldn't owe taxes.
"This is much more like a taxpayer saying, 'I don't want to pay into the general treasury because I can identify a subset of government spending that violates my religious belief,'" Klein said.
The 10th Circuit in Denver opted to hear the case before eight active judges, not the typical three-judge panel, indicating the case's importance.
Hobby Lobby calls itself a "biblically founded business" and is closed on Sundays. Founded in 1972, the company now operates more than 500 stores in 41 states and employs more than 13,000 full-time employees who are eligible for health insurance.
The 10th Circuit judges gave no indication when they'd make a decision in the Hobby Lobby case.