by Steve Ertelt
The Supreme Court ruled today that the Christian-run Hobby Lobby doesn’t have to obey the HHS mandate that is a part of Obamacare that requires businesses to pay for abortion causing drugs in their employee health care plans.
The Obama administration was attempting to make Hobby Lobby and thousands of pro-life businesses and organizations comply with the HHS mandate that compels religious companies to pay for birth control and abortion-causing drugs for their employees. However, the U.S. Supreme Court today issued a favorable ruling in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., a landmark case addressing the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of business owners to operate their family companies without violating their deeply held religious convictions.
Writing for the 5-4 majority, Justice SamuelAlito handed down the decision for the high court, saying, “The Supreme Court holds government can’t require closely held corporations with religious owners to provide contraception coverage.”
“HHS’s contraception mandate substantially burdens the exercise of religion,” the decision reads, adding that the “decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to mean that all insurance mandates.” The opinion said the “plain terms of Religious Freedom Restoration Act” are “perfectly clear.”
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a concurring opinion saying that government itself could provide the coverage for contraception and the abortion-causing drugs if a company declines to do so.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a dissent that claims the decision is “of startling breadth,” a claim the majority denies. The major decision indicates it applies to the abortion mandate, not blood transfusions or other practices to which people may have religious objections.
The Hobby Lobby decision only applies to companies, including Conestoga Wood Specialties, which had a companion case pending before the Supreme Court. Non-profit groups like Priests for Life and Little Sisters are still waiting for a ruling about their right to opt out of the mandate.
The Obama administration said it was confident it would prevail, saying, “We believe this requirement is lawful…and are confident the Supreme Court will agree.”
Responding to the decision, Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel David
Cortman told LifeNews: “Americans don’t surrender their freedom by opening a family business. In its decision today, the Supreme Court affirmed that all Americans, including family business owners, must be free to live and work consistently with their beliefs without fear of punishment by the government. In a free and diverse society, we respect the freedom to live out our convictions. For the Hahns and the Greens, that means not being forced to participate in distributing potentially life-terminating drugs and devices.”
In July, a federal court granted Hobby Lobby a preliminary injunction against the HHS abortion-drug mandate. The injunction prevented the Obama administration from enforcing the mandate against the Christian company, but the Obama administration appealed that ruling. Hobby Lobby could have paid as much as $1.3 million each day in fines for refusing to pay for birth control or abortion-causing drugs under the mandate.
After the appeals court ruling, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton issued a preliminary injunction and stayed the case until Oct. 1 to give the Obama administration time to appeal the decision.