Praise God. The prayers of many saints have been answered.
In a victory for religious freedom, the Supreme Court ruled today 5-4 in favor of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. in the case Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (formerly named Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby). The case was the strongest legal challenge to Obamacare since 2012.
Justice Alito authored the majority opinion, and Justice Kennedy wrote a concurring opinion. Justice Ginsburg wrote the dissent, joined by Justices Sotomayor, Breyer, and Kagan.
The lawsuit name was updated following the retirement of Kathleen Sebelius and the hiring of Sylvia Matthews Burwell.
Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. both claimed that the mandate violated their religious freedom. Both companies believe that certain forms of contraception induce abortion, which violates the religious convictions of their owners.
This story will be updated.
Here are some highlights from SCOTUSblog.com:
Closely held corporations cannot be required to provide contraception coverage.
RFRA applies to regulations that govern the activities of closely held for-profit corporations like Conestoga, HL and Mardel.
The Court says that the government has failed to show that the mandate is the least restrictive means of advancing its interest in guaranteeing cost-free access to birth control.
Justice Kennedy’s concurring opinion says that the government could pay for the coverage itself, so that women receive it.
Here is a further attempt at qualification: This decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to mean that all insurance mandates, that is for blood transfusions or vaccinations, necessarily fail if they conflict with an employer’s religious beliefs.
Here is more qualification: It does not provide a shield for employers who might cloak illegal discrimination as a religious practice.
The Court says that RFRA requires the Govt to provide closely-held corporate objectors the same accommodation it already provides nonprofit organization objectors.
To be clear: the Court holds that corporations (including for-profit corporations) are “persons” for purposes of RFRA. The additional question was whether corporations can have a religious “belief” within the meaning of RFRA. On that question, the Court limits its holding to closely held corporations, leaving for another day whether larger, publicly traded corporations have religious beliefs.
The implications of this victory for freedom cannot be overemphasized as the decision holds essentially that First Amendment religious liberties are applicable to corporations. It protects those with pro-life views from being forced by the government to be complicit in (pay for or provide) abortion homicide procedures, whether chemical or surgical.
There will be much analysis to follow and it remains unclear, but this bodes somewhat well for religious liberty in the context of how Christian business owners who sincerely hold to the biblical view of sexual morality may (or may not) “associate” with others who are engaged in the counter-biblical “LGBT” lifestyle or other forms of sexual immorality.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has issued a statement:
This decision protects the religious freedom that is guaranteed to all Americans by the First Amendment, and we’re grateful the Court ruled on the side of liberty. The central issue of this case was whether the federal government can coerce Americans to violate their deeply held religious beliefs, and thankfully the Court has upheld the proper limits on the government’s power.
The fact that Americans had to bring this case in the first place reveals once again just how intrusive ObamaCare is. It’s a misguided one-size-fits-all policy that not only failed to fix our healthcare system but has trampled on our Constitutional rights. Americans deserve a healthcare system that allows them to make the right choices for themselves, gives them more freedom, and comes nowhere close to encroaching on our First Amendment rights.
Update: Hobby Lobby owners David and Barbara Green celebrate victory…
Update No. 2: Christians and other pro-lifers celebrate in front to Supreme Court building…
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.