Hobby Lobby hypocrisy: 401k plan invests in contraception

HobbyLobbyEverydayThe story by Molly Redden in Mother Jones, “Hobby Lobby’s Hypocrisy: The Company’s Retirement Plan Invests in Contraception Manufacturers,” is absolutely worth a few minutes of your time. In short: three-quarters of the Hobby Lobby retirement plan investments are in funds that invest in pharmaceutical companies that produce contraceptive devices that Hobby Lobby’s owners object to having covered by their insurance plans:

Documents filed with the Department of Labor and dated December 2012—three months after the company’s owners filed their lawsuit—show that the Hobby Lobby 401(k) employee retirement plan held more than $73 million in mutual funds with investments in companies that produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs commonly used in abortions. Hobby Lobby makes large matching contributions to this company-sponsored 401(k).

Several of the mutual funds in Hobby Lobby’s retirement plan have holdings in companies that manufacture the specific drugs and devices that the Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, is fighting to keep out of Hobby Lobby’s health care policies: the emergency contraceptive pills Plan B and Ella, and copper and hormonal intrauterine devices.

The Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby, have gone to the Supreme Court to fight the Affordable Care Act requirement that requires employers to provide insurance that covers contraception. Redden’s article raises questions about the depth and sincerity of those beliefs. Rick Ungar of Forbes magazine perhaps sums it up best:

But to now discover that these people are seeking to avoid their obligation under the law to provide their employees with a contraceptive benefit at the same time they are allowing their 401(k) to invest in—and profit from—these very products is, in my view, completely unforgivable. . . .

While I may not agree with the legal position Hobby Lobby has taken in their lawsuit, I always stand in admiration of those willing to fight for their constitutional rights when they believe they are being taken.

Hobby Lobby is entitled to no such admiration—only contempt. You simply can’t say that you will give your all in defense of your closely held beliefs when it suits you while seeking to make money in violation of those beliefs. You also cannot pretend you were simply negligent in learning what investments you hold if you are going to hold yourself out as an example of righteousness.

Of course this article appears after the case was argued before the Supreme Court and it may not have any official impact on the deliberations that have yet to take place. But it does make one wonder what questions may be raised in the minds of some justices about the Green’s “sincerely held beliefs.”

Crossposted on Scholars and Rogues: http://bit.ly/1pUR2y2

Comments are closed.