OKLAHOMA CITY – A controversial case between the federal government and Oklahoma retailer Hobby Lobby has been decided upon.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling over whether the Christian-based company is required to provide contraception to their employees under the new healthcare law, even if it violates their religious beliefs.
The justices voted 5-4 in favor of Hobby Lobby.
The justices decided “closely held corporations with religious owners” can be exempt from the act’s requirements.
However, they say the ruling does not affect other types of medication, like vaccines, and it also should not be considered an out for several other companies.
Experts say the decision also prevent itself from being used for discriminatory purposes.
In the ruling, the Supreme Court decided that certain companies have the right to religious freedom.
Hobby Lobby said it does not want to provide their employees Plan B, or the “morning after” pill, which the company’s owners say is the same as abortion.
They stood before the U.S. Supreme Court defending religious freedom against what they see as a government intrusion.
“Religious liberty ranks first among our cherished freedoms, and this Court ruling affirms and recognizes this God-given freedom. Hobby Lobby and the Green Family represent the very best of Christian-owned businesses. Their courage to stand for life and religious liberty has been rewarded, for which we rejoice,” said Dr. Anthony Jordan, executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
Sen. Jim Inhofe released the following statement:
“The Green family has built a successful business based on principles that are rooted in their deeply held faith. Today the Supreme Court ruled to protect those principles and the religious liberties of private employers. ObamaCare’s mandate that employers provide abortion inducing drugs to employees violated the conscience of the Greens. Instead of succumbing to enormous financial penalties for failing to comply, the Green family stood strong in their faith and successfully fought against the intrusions of the federal government and preserved their right to religious freedom.”
“The Court’s opinion affirmed that the President cannot tell individuals with sincere religious beliefs they can only practice their faith in the privacy of their home but not in other areas of their life. In addition to the religious liberty victory, this decision also limits this Administration’s capacity to fine faith-based companies out of existence for failing to comport with the President’s beliefs. Since the case centers around companies with greater than fifty employees, it would have created an arbitrary change in citizen rights and companies who grow past fifty people. The Court rejected the argument that if your company grows past fifty people, you lose your religious freedom,” said Rep. Lankford.
“Religious liberty is one of the principles this nation was founded upon. It is a freedom woven into the fabric of this country and expressly outlined in our Bill of Rights. The Supreme Court acted today to protect religious liberty and defend our citizens from an overreaching, overbearing federal government. I congratulate Hobby Lobby, a great Oklahoma company, for successfully standing up to the powers that be in Washington and working to protect the freedoms enjoyed by all Americans,” said Gov. Mary Fallin.
“Today we celebrate with the Green family, who led a brave and courageous charge to preserve religious freedom for all Americans,” said Congressman Tom Cole. “Hobby Lobby has long been known in Oklahoma and across the country for incorporating faith when running its many stores and businesses. Despite an unfair and unconstitutional mandate from the Administration, the Greens continued to live out and stand firm in their faith by fighting for their right to practice it in every aspect of their lives, including how they run their private business. I am pleased that the Supreme Court recognized that private business owners cannot be compelled by the federal government to offer those forms of birth control that terminate life when it violates their religious convictions. This decision is not only a victory for the Green family but all Americans who desire for our unique freedoms to continue as our Founders intended.”
“Our family is 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,” said Barbara Green, Hobby Lobby co-founder.
Not everyone was pleased with the decision.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg disagreed and said so when writing her dissent.
“In a decision of startling breadth, the Court holds that commercial enterprises, including corporations, along with partnerships and sole proprietorships, can opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs. In the Court’s view, RFRA demands accommodation of a for-profit corporation’s religious beliefs no matter the impact that accommodation may have on third parties who do not share the corporation owners’ religious faith- in these cases, thousands of women employed by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga or dependents of persons those corporations employ.”
“The distinction between a community made up of believers in the same religion and one embracing persons of diverse beliefs, clear as it is, constantly escapes the Court’s attention,” she wrote. “One can only wonder why the Court shuts this key difference from sight.”
“We regret that a majority of justices once again saw corporations as persons with the rights of individuals, seemingly deciding in this case that corporations can kneel and worship. While respect for and protection of religious liberty is a fundamental American value, it is unfortunate a majority of justices have downplayed access to health care and disregarded employees religious views in favor of those of a corporation,” said Martha Skeeters, President of the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice. “This decision not only obstructs women employees’ access to a full range of affordable birth control, but also threatens all employees with potential limitations on health care such as Scientologists refusing to cover psychiatry or Jehovah’s Witnesses refusing to cover surgery with blood transfusions. This decision also raises the spectre of civil rights abuses where, for example, employers might refuse to hire from some groups because they regard divorce, or IVF treatments or gay marriage as sinful. We are deeply concerned about the ramifications of this decision.”
Previously, the Obama administration allowed exemptions for churches and some religiously-affiliated groups, like church-run hospitals and charities to have a third-party provide coverage.
Hobby Lobby is a private company, and legal experts say if it gets an exemption, the ruling could have widespread implications on how the Affordable Care Act is enforced.
The decision could also have a ripple effect, putting the government in a position of having to accommodate religious beliefs across the board, not just healthcare.
The decision caused a ripple effect on social media.