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Supreme Court Ruling for Hobby Lobby is Similar to Arlene's Flowers Lawsuit in Richland

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KENNEWICK, WA - A small group of protesters stood along Canal Drive in Kennewick on Thursday morning, drawing attention to a popular crafts store. The protesters were calling attention to this week's Supreme Court ruling that Hobby Lobby does not have to offer some types of birth control to its employees. It's a case of religious freedoms and it's similar, yet very different, to a local lawsuit against Arlene's Flowers in Richland.

"A company is not a person and so they shouldn't be able to, as a company, trump the rights of the actual real human beings," said protester Jennifer Baker.

The protest, like so many others across the nation, were sparked by a 'day of love' to support Hobby Lobby. People like the group in Kennewick were not feeling the love on Thursday.

"It's very difficult now for poor women to get birth control and it's very important that they get birth control and that they have families on their time schedule. Because if they don't then it just hinders them from advancing even further," said another protester, Margaret Smoot.

The heart of the issue, though, is religious freedoms. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, agreeing that the contraception mandate violates the Federal Religious FreedomRestorationn Act, because it burdens religious liberty without having a compelling reason to do so.

"It would be nice if we could look at this and say, hey well they're a business and they were told they didn't have to do something they didn't want to do, so maybe Arlene's Flowers isn't going to have to do what they don't want to either and unfortunately it's not quite that simple," said Joseph Backholm with the Family Policy Institute of Washington.

It's not that simple because the Hobby Lobby case is federal. Arlene's Flowers is a case in Washington state and while it is an issue of religious freedom, the attorney general claims the Richland shop violated the state's non-discrimination law. 

"The similarities are, in both cases, these are people who just want to make a living but they have values that they want to stand by and they don't believe a price should be placed on their conscience. They don't believe their conscience should be an obstacle to make a living," said Backholm.

Either way, both of these cases will (and have) set a precedent for legal future arguments.

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