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Can the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling protect undocumented immigrants?

Posted at 5:12 PM, Feb 15, 2017

A Supreme Court ruling over birth control might complicate President Trump's immigration orders. In the landmark Hobby Lobby case, the court allowed companies to opt out of health care contraceptive mandates for religious reasons.         

But now one Cleveland lawyer says that same ruling can be used to protect undocumented immigrants.

A growing number of religious institutions have stepping up their efforts to protect undocumented immigrants following Trump’s executive order on immigration. "Traditionally, U.S. Immigration has not gone into sensitive places like churches, hospitals or schools to arrest people," said Immigration attorney David Leopold.

But Leopold says a 2014 Supreme Court ruling might make things even trickier for the Trump Administration. "It was a very broad decision defining the rights of people to stand on their religious beliefs,, " said Leopold.

Leopold is referring to Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the landmark case in which the court barred the government from forcing small companies to provide employees with birth contr if it went against their religious beliefs. "It was a decision that came as the result of some very conservative litigating,” said Leopold. 

Leopold believes it might also serve as a legal precedent to protect religious institutions that provide refuge to undocumented immigrants. "Because that is a first amendment right to believe in your religion, and if your religion compels you to protect somebody, it becomes a very interesting question under Hobby Lobby."

As for his client, Leopold says he advises them to always comply with the law.