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Protestors take on Supreme Court ruling outside Duluth Hobby Lobby

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Protestors in support of and against Hobby Lobby gathered in front of the national chain's store in Duluth Thursday to draw attention to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling this week on religious freedom and contraception, Northland's NewsCenter reports.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of a case brought by the Christian-oriented craft store chain, which argued that certain for-profit companies cannot be compelled to pay for specific types of contraceptives for their employees through health plans if those company leaders have religious objections to birth control.

The outcome of the case – in which Hobby Lobby argued that that the Affordable Care Act violates a federal law that protects religious freedom – was met by cheers and jeers by Minnesotans affected by the ruling.

Laura Gapske, who took part in the protest outside Hobby Lobby's Duluth store, urged one customer to show her disdain for the ruling by taking her shopping money elsewhere.

"Her decision was to leave Hobby Lobby this morning and go buy all the camp supplies at Michael's instead – and so, I'm just trying to encourage people to really think about where you're spending your money, and how that affects the company's decisions," Gapske told Northland's NewsCenter.

Spokespeople for the Duluth store wouldn't comment on the protest.

Arielle Schnur kicked off the protest by herself Tuesday in front of the store, and more people joined her as she stretched into Wednesday and Thursday, the Duluth News Tribune said.

On Thursday, the Oklahoma-based retailer announced its plans to expand into the Twin Cities marketplace, including a new Hobby Lobby location in Maplewood near the Maplewood Mall, the Pioneer Press reports.

The 49,000-sqare-foot store will be the second Hobby Lobby in the Twin Cities area, following the Woodbury location that opened in February, the Business Journal said.

The chain said it planned on opening its Maplewood store in late August, and is considering many more Twin Cities locations, including a store in Blaine.

Company spokesman Vince Parker told the Pioneer Press in May that the Twin Cities marketplace "could handle 12-15 Hobby Lobby Stores."

In addition to Duluth and Woodbury, Hobby Lobby's Minnesota stores include locations in Mankato and Rochester.

According to the company's website, Hobby Lobby's first store opened in 1972 and there are currently 576 locations nationwide.

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