Striking yet another blow to the troubled ObamaCare law, a majority ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court Monday upheld the contention held by craft store chain Hobby Lobby that part of the healthcare program violates religious liberty. At issue is a mandate requiring employers to provide contraceptives the corporation’s owners believe is tantamount to abortion.
A Pennsylvania furniture company, Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., joined Hobby Lobby in the case. A number of other businesses across the nation have voiced similar concerns, seeking remedy in the court system.
In a 5-4 decision along ideological lines, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the hefty fines – up to $475 million – imposed upon any business that fails to abide by the law amounts to an unjust burden.
“If these consequences do not amount to a substantial burden,” he explained, “it is hard to see what would.”
He did make it clear that the ruling is limited in its scope, allowing businesses to drop only the contraceptive mandate due to religious objection. The decision also applies only to companies owned by a family or small group. In such cases, the court found, the business in question is virtually inseparable from its owners.
The liberal wing of the court, of course, saw the case differently. Writing for the dissenting opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg found that the ruling “discounts the disadvantages religion-based opt outs impose on others, in particular, employees who do not share their employer’s religious beliefs.”
Alito, however, determined there are other ways the Obama administration can ensure women have access to the contested contraceptives. He wrote that the government could pay for such coverage directly or, as with strictly religious organizations, it could allow an unaffiliated company to provide such drugs.
Despite its caveats, advocates of religious freedom celebrated Monday’s ruling.
— Rep. Mike Kelly (@MikeKellyPA) June 30, 2014
Others apparently believe Barack Obama will not simply allow this ruling to stand without attempting to supersede it through his exercise of executive power.
On the left, there are plenty of voices describing the decision as detrimental to women’s rights and the rule of law.
It’s time that five men on the Supreme Court stop deciding what happens to women.
— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) June 30, 2014
Hobby Lobby attorney Adele Keim of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty concluded it is “a great day for religious liberty.”
As the Supreme Court finished its session Monday, the Hobby Lobby ruling came on the heels of several other decisions backing the prevailing conservative opinion. Last week, justices found a number of Obama’s board appointments were invalid as they did not occur during a proper congressional recess, backed the right of pro-life activists to congregate near abortion facilities, and limited authorities’ access to personal information found in suspects’ cell phones.
Photo Credit: DangApricot (Creative Commons)