Monday, 30 June 2014 15:00

Supreme Court Rules for Religious Liberty in Hobby Lobby Case

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In a 5-4 decision Monday June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that some for-profit companies can cite religious convictions to opt out of the contraception mandate that would have required all businesses to provide free contraceptives — including those that can cause abortion — to their employees. The decision represents a huge blow to President Obama's “Affordable Health Care” law, and a victory for scores of businesses that have claimed that the mandate would require them to violate their belief that all life is sacred.

The ruling came in favor of two family-held companies — Hobby Lobby, owned by the Green family, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, owned by the Hahn family — both of whom had said that the mandate would represent an unacceptable moral obstacle to their businesses. Both companies faced millions of dollars in fines for refusing to make available abortion-inducing contraceptive drugs to their employees. Hobby Lobby and another company owned by the Greens faced as much as $1.3 million in fines for CEO David Green's resolute refusal to bow to the mandate. “This legal challenge has always remained about one thing and one thing only,” said Green when his company first filed suit to stop the mandate — “the right of our family businesses to live out our sincere and deeply held religious convictions as guaranteed by the law and the Constitution.”

Five Supreme Court justices sided with the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga owners, citing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to reject the efforts of the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to force the owners of the Christian-based businesses to violate their consciences in order to fulfill the requirements of the mandate.

“In holding that the HHS mandate is unlawful, we reject HHS’s argument that the owners of the companies forfeited all RFRA protection when they decided to organize their businesses as corporations rather than sole proprietorships or general partnerships,” wrote Justice Alito for the majority in the two cases. “The plain terms of RFRA make it perfectly clear that Congress did not discriminate in this way against men and women who wish to run their businesses as for-profit corporations in the manner required by their religious beliefs.”

Alito wrote that the RFRA “applies to regulations that govern the activities of closely held for profit corporations like Conestoga and Hobby Lobby,” noting that the “HHS contraceptive mandate substantially burdens the exercise of religion.”

In a concurring opinion Justice Kennedy wrote: “Among the reasons the United States is so open, so tolerant, and so free is that no person may be restricted or demeaned by government in exercising his or her religion.”

Alito emphasized, however, that the decision is not overarching, but limited only to the contraceptive mandate issue. “Our decision should not be understood to hold that an insurance-coverage mandate must necessarily fail if it conflicts with an employer's religious beliefs,” he wrote.


In a dissenting opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Stephen Breyer — insisted that the government has a “compelling interest” to force companies to provide free birth control. “Those interests are concrete, specific, and demonstrated by a wealth of empirical evidence,” she wrote. “To recapitulate, the mandated contraception coverage enables women to avoid the health problems unintended pregnancies may visit on them and their children.”

In a separate dissent Justice Elena Kagan wrote, “Congress has made a judgment and Congress has given a statutory entitlement and that entitlement is to women and includes contraceptive coverage, and when an employer says, 'No, I don't want to give that,' that woman is quite directly, quite tangibly harmed.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest complained that the decision “jeopardizes the health of women who are employed by these companies,” but insisted that the Obama administration would respect the ruling. He added that “we will work with Congress to make sure that any women affected by this decision will still have the same coverage of vital health services as everyone else.”

Predictably, Cecile Richards of abortion giant Planned Parenthood expressed her outrage at the High Court's decision, accusing it of ruling “against American women and families, giving bosses the right to discriminate against women and deny their employees access to birth control coverage. This is a deeply disappointing and troubling ruling that will prevent some women, especially those working hourly-wage jobs and struggling to make ends meet, from getting birth control.”

As for the victors, Lori Windham, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represented Hobby Lobby and the Green family in the case, called the ruling “a landmark decision for religious freedom. The Supreme Court recognized that Americans do not lose their religious freedom when they run a family business. This ruling will protect people of all faiths. The Court’s reasoning was clear, and it should have been clear to the government. You can’t argue there are no alternative means when your agency is busy creating alternative means for other people.”

In a statement for the Green family, Hobby Lobby co-founder Barbara Green said that her family was “overjoyed by the Supreme Court’s decision. Today the nation’s highest court has re-affirmed the vital importance of religious liberty as one of our country’s founding principles. The Court’s decision is a victory, not just for our family business, but for all who seek to live out their faith. We are grateful to God and to those who have supported us on this difficult journey.”

In a press release the Becket Fund predicted that the decision would also have “important implications for over 50 pending lawsuits brought by non-profit religious organizations, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, which are also challenging the mandate. In two different respects, the Supreme Court strongly signaled that the mandate may be struck down in those cases too. First, it rejected the government’s argument that there was no burden on the Greens' religious exercise because only third parties use the drugs. Second, it held that the government could simply pay for contraception coverage with its own funds, rather than requiring private employers to do so.”

David Cortman, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, which assisted in representing the Hahn family and Conestoga Wood Specialties, said after the ruling that “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 according to their beliefs without fear of government punishment. In a free and diverse society, we respect the freedom to live out our convictions.”

Among the Christian, pro-life, and pro-family leaders applauding the ruling was Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List, who called the ruling a “great victory for religious liberty.... In living out our religious convictions, there are certain things we must not do. This is why we are at a watershed moment. Religious people will no longer be ordered to take action that our religion says we must not take.”

In a statement Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said that the High Court had delivered “one of the most significant victories for religious freedom in our generation. We are thankful the Supreme Court agreed that the government went too far by mandating that family business owners must violate their consciences under threat of crippling fines.”


And Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission called the ruling “exhilarating,” declaring that “as a Baptist I am encouraged that our ancestors' struggle for the First Amendment has been vindicated. This is as close as a Southern Baptist gets to dancing in the streets with joy.”

Photo: AP Images

8 comments

  • Comment Link Terry Wednesday, 02 July 2014 19:26 posted by Terry

    it is interesting that this infanticide issue goes back to the Illuminati who also supported killing infants before birth. Licentiousness results in uninvited pregnancies which in turn leads to infanticide to eliminate the result. The pagan God Molech in the Old Testament (Leviticus I believe) was appeased by child sacrifice in the morally loose Assyrian society.

    Our present day society is promoting the same kind of immorality and condoning the same solution. The present direction is leading quickly to societal decay and eventual collapse.

  • Comment Link Terry Wednesday, 02 July 2014 19:15 posted by Terry

    Well, Mr. Dalene with an attitude like that towards most people I supposed you fancy yourself as judge and jury over us all. Thought that was God's place but apparently like Satan you have usurped the role like the Illuminati who also supported killing infants before birth.

    Interesting distinction Mr. Weiland. Rhetoric is very important and always frames any issue the self appointed ruling elite deems important. I will pay attention to that when addressing the issue in the future like the name of the act itself- Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act that favors infanticide and euthanasia and assisted suicide. Not much protection for the patient there it seems.

    Just beginning to read your book on the bible and Constitution. The provocative beginning has my attention so far. Interested to see where it leads.

  • Comment Link Nora Tuesday, 01 July 2014 17:44 posted by Nora

    This was a good decision and one that transcends religious dogma and doctrine. I applaud Hobby Lobby for having the courage of their convictions and seeing this all the way to a correct ruling. The opposing judges are truly psychopaths.

  • Comment Link Ted R. Weiland Tuesday, 01 July 2014 07:49 posted by Ted R. Weiland

    Terry, thanks for visiting our site. I hope the ebook proves to be a blessing to your Biblical studies.

    Following is what I consider the most potent Biblical proof against infanticide (wrongly termed abortion):

    The battle against this atrocity begins with identifying it correctly. By calling it "abortion," we've already acquiesced to the opposition's terminology. Look up "abortion" and "miscarriage" in any dictionary. A miscarriage is an abortion. What doctors (and parents) do to infants in the womb is infanticide. Had Roe v. Wade been waged over infanticide rather than abortion, it would have never made it to the court room. In fact, by employing the word "abortion," Roe v. Wade was won before it ever got to court.

    The Greek word "brephos" employed in the New Testament for infants already born is the same word used for infants in the womb (Luke 2:12 and Luke 1:41), without specifying the precise moment they became a "brephos." Therefore, our only option is to then accept that they became such at conception. Thus, intentionally killing a brephos at any point is "brephocide" or, more properly, infanticide.

    The point being, we Christians need to stop using the non-Christians' watered-down, politically correct terms such as "abortion" and "gay." It's infanticide and sodomy. There is no power in the former terms against evil and our first mistake is in acquiescing to the ungodly's terminology.

  • Comment Link Michael Dalene Tuesday, 01 July 2014 00:37 posted by Michael Dalene

    PERSONALLY: I DON'T SEE WERE THIS IS AN ISSUE FOR GOVERNMENT (the injustice System) IN THE FIRST PLACE BEYOND THE FACT THAT ABORTIONS ARE EITHER LEGAL OR ILLEGAL... other than that, WTF is the government to force someone to pay for someone else--- be it an abortion, Healthcare, food, anything or everything--- WHO OR WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT TO BE INVOLVED?

    I have NO RIGHT to tell others How to Live, but at the same time NO ONE has the right to make me pay for the way they and others live!

    I am Pro-Choice and anti-Abortion. I AM NOT GOD NOR DO I PRESUME TO KNOW HIS [Her, ITS, their, Mind(s)] WILL. If you do then you are either very Fortunate (to Know God) or a total F-ing asshole. My money is on the latter!

    No Christian is going to Force their concept of God/religion onto another since doing so violates their Christian Concepts; then again, most Hardcore, church-going, Bible-thumpers are Two-faced 'Pieces-of-Shit' anyway!... of course that isn't saying much either--- most all humans are "Two-faced 'Pieces-of-Shit."

  • Comment Link Michael Dalene Tuesday, 01 July 2014 00:16 posted by Michael Dalene

    *** If a person held a knife to the throats of a woman and a child, would it be "morally right" to say, "Kill the child. She can have another."

    A company can refuse to hire and/or discriminate against smokers, but if a woman wants to self-induce an abortion it is Blessed... WTF ails this nation, its People, and its governments?

    I fail to understand the logic that even permits an expected mother to have an abortion because it risks her life... so far as I'm concerned, if the child can be born (hopefully Healthy) then the child's life should take priority over that of the mother!

  • Comment Link Terry Monday, 30 June 2014 20:39 posted by Terry

    Great news. Christian principles finally win one. Unborn babies may end up winning too. (May being the operative word there since there is so much support towards "woman's choice" as the euphemism goes when it should rightfully be called the Pro Death movement in place of Pro Choice.)

    I found the dissenting judges statements to be disturbing to say the least. Arguing that the government has a "compelling interest" to force companies to provide free birth control. These people are mentally ill.

    What compelling interest should a government have to force the murder of unborn children but to force a form of genocide on the population. A developing child has a heart beat and brain waves by 30 days and the genetic blueprint of a human being at the moment of conception. No woman intentionally aborts prior to 30 days. Is not the determination of human life a heart beat and brain waves? You are killing a living being without regard to the potential life whatsoever. And sick individuals like Sotomeyer, Ginsberg, Kagan (all women) and Stephen Breyer think they should have a compelling reason to kill unborn babies?

    We have a very sick, morally corrupt government and an equally morally corrupt population that has been dumbed down over time to accept the killing of unborn babies as a violation of their freedom. What a twisted view of reality we support.

    Additionally, Planned Parenthood? The largest abortion provider in the world funded with taxpayer money. Their 2011 Fact Sheet reported a record total of 333,964 abortions in ONE year! Taxpayer cost- $542 million in taxpayer funding. Over the past three reported years (2009-2011), Planned Parenthood has performed nearly one million abortions (995,687). http://bit.ly/1k8gUUL And they're complaining about the decision? They are probably really concerned about their profit and loss statements more than the rights of woman to kill their unborn children.

    We certainly live in troubled times with a society decaying from within. Not a good sign. Anyway, the good news is that this is a start. Let's hope it continues in the favor of life over death.

  • Comment Link Ted R. Weiland Monday, 30 June 2014 17:47 posted by Ted R. Weiland

    Praise God for this victory! HOWEVER, ask yourself, HOW did America get to the place where such a case would be tried in the first place, especially with America's true 1600 Christian foundations in mind?

    There has to be a defining moment in history the changed the Christian course of America. That defining point was in 1787 when the late 1700 founders' rejected the 1600 Christian Colonial governments of, by, and for God, based upon His immutable moral law (including Exodus 21:22-23, which, in principle, condemn infanticide) for a humanistic government of, by, and for the people, based upon fickle Enlightenment concepts.

    For what should prove to be an eye-opening contrast between the two governments, see blog article "375 Years Later: Constitution vs. Constitution" at http://www.constitutionmythbusters.org/375-years-later-constitution-vs-constitution/.

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