Supreme Court Strikes Down Obamacare Abortion Pill Rule as Violation of Religious Liberty
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that a key regulation in President Barack Obama’s signature health care legislation is illegal as applied to millions of Americans of faith, as well as their businesses or organizations.
In Obamacare’s second round before the nation’s highest court, Justice Samuel Alito wrote the opinion in the 5-to-4 rebuke of the Obama administration for violating the individual rights of American citizens, holding the so-called HHS Abortion Pill Mandate violates religious liberty protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA).
Obama’s beleaguered Affordable Care Act includes a requirement that all employers offering insurance must make “preventive care” part of their healthcare package. The White House decided that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would issue a regulation declaring “preventive care” includes numerous forms of birth control, including at least four that cause abortions in pregnant women.
Two Christian-owned companies—home retail giant Hobby Lobby and a much smaller business, Conestoga Wood Specialties—filed suit. Hobby Lobby is owned by the Green family, who are Evangelical. Conestoga Wood Specialties is owned by the Hahn family, who are Mennonite.
Employers who provide healthcare without the abortion-pill coverage face a fine of $100 per employee, per day (meaning $36,500 per year for each worker). For Hobby Lobby, that would mean a penalty of $1.4 million per day, or approximately $500 million per year.
Because the Court held that this regulation violates a federal law, it did not need to reach the larger question of whether this Obamacare mandate also violates Americans’ First Amendment right to freely exercise their religion.
This was Obamacare’s second round before the nation’s highest court. The stakes in this case were enormous in that, had the Court gone the other way, it would have marked the first time in history that the American government told its citizens that they must either surrender their religious beliefs or be forced into insolvency and possibly bankruptcy.
The first permanent residents who settled the United States came here for religious liberty, specifically to live their lives and conduct their business and public affairs consistent with their religious conscience. That principle appears to have been central to the justices’ deciding this case.
Breitbart News will post a full analysis of the Supreme Court’s opinion later today, but the political ramifications seem clear regardless of the legal dimension.
This case has immediate implications for the 2016 election. It was a 5-to-4 decision. Two of the justices in the majority are 79-years old (Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy) and one justice in dissent is 81 (Ruth Bader Ginsburg).
Assuming all three justices continue in office for the next two years, the next president will likely replace all three—and with it usher in a new era for the United States, one way or the other.
This case is one of the most important cases that will be heard by the Supreme Court for some time to come. At the crux of the case is the question “Can the government force a company to do something that is at odds with the owners’ fundamental religious belief system?” Personal religious freedom must be protected, and the owners of Hobby Lobby have been on the front lines of this fight for some time now. It is time to pray, folks… Pray that members of the court are given the strength and wisdom to do the right thing. – Tom O’Halloran
By David Green, the founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.
When my family and I started our company 40 years ago, we were working out of a garage on a $600 bank loan, assembling miniature picture frames. Our first retail store wasn’t much bigger than most people’s living rooms, but we had faith that we would succeed if we lived and worked according to God’s word.
From there, Hobby Lobby has become one of the nation’s largest arts and crafts retailers, with more than 500 locations in 41 states. Our children grew up into fine business leaders, and today we run Hobby Lobby together, as a family.
We’re Christians, and we run our business on Christian principles. I’ve always said that the first two goals of our business are (1) to run our business in harmony with God’s laws, and (2) to focus on people more than money. And that’s what we’ve tried to do. We close early so our employees can see their families at night. We keep our stores closed on Sundays, one of the week’s biggest shopping days, so that our workers and their families can enjoy a day of rest.
We believe that it is by God’s grace that Hobby Lobby has endured, and he has blessed us and our employees. We’ve not only added jobs in a weak economy, we’ve raised wages for the past four years in a row. Our full-time employees start at 80% above minimum wage.
But now, our government threatens to change all of that.
A new government healthcare mandate says that our family business MUST provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance. Being Christians, we don’t pay for drugs that might cause abortions, which means that we don’t cover emergency contraception, the morning-after pill or the week-after pill. We believe doing so might end a life after the moment of conception, something that is contrary to our most important beliefs.
It goes against the Biblical principles on which we have run this company since day one.
If we refuse to comply, we could face $1.3 million PER DAY in government fines.
Our government threatens to fine job creators in a bad economy.
Our government threatens to fine a company that’s raised wages four years running.
Our government threatens to fine a family for running its business according to its beliefs. It’s not right. I know people will say we ought to follow the rules; that it’s the same for everybody. But that’s not true.
The government has exempted thousands of companies from this mandate, for reasons of convenience or cost. But it won’t exempt them for reasons of religious belief.
So, Hobby Lobby and my family are forced to make a choice. With great reluctance, we filed a lawsuit today, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, asking a federal court to stop this mandate before it hurts our business. We don’t like to go running into court, but we no longer have a choice. We believe people are more important than the bottom line and that honoring God is more important than turning a profit.
My family has lived the American dream. We want to continue growing our company and providing great jobs for thousands of employees, but the government is going to make that much more difficult.
The government is forcing us to choose between following our faith and following the law. I say that’s a choice no American and no American business should have to make.
The government cannot force you to follow laws that go against your fundamental religious belief. They have exempted thousands of companies but will not except Christian organizations including the Catholic church.
Since you will not see this in the liberal media, please pass this on to all your contacts.
CEO and Founder of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.
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