Republicans are cheering the Supreme Court’s decision in favor of Hobby Lobby Monday, ruling that for-profit corporations do not have to provide contraception as part of their insurance coverage.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said the ruling “formally recognized what the overwhelming majority of Americans already know to be true: that religious liberty is a good thing,” while Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said that “The fact that Americans had to bring this case in the first place reveals once again just how intrusive ObamaCare is.” (RELATED: Hobby Lobby Requests Supreme Court Take Up Obamacare Birth Control Mandate Case)
The court ruled that the contraception mandate violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which prohibits the government from “substantially burden[ing] a person’s exercise of religion.” Today’s decision makes clear that the act applies to what are known as “closely-held” corporations–a corporation 50 percent of whose stock is owned by five or fewer people. HHS had argued that the act did not apply to any for-profit corporations–which, as Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion explained, meant that business owners would have to decide whether to “give up the right to seek judicial protection of their religious liberty or forgo the benefits of operating as corporations.”
Senator Ted Cruz called it “a landmark victory for religious liberty” and expressed hope that the courts will soon give non-profits, like the Catholic religious order the Little Sisters of the Poor, similar protections. The Little Sisters, whose primary work is caring for the elderly poor, have also filed a lawsuit against the government over the contraception mandate. (RELATED: Obamacare Could Drive Little Sisters Of The Poor Out Of The US)
Speaker of the House John Boehner pointed out that “The plaintiffs in the HHS Mandate cases before the court based their claims on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which passed Congress nearly unanimously in 1993. RFRA is a critical check on federal power and enjoys support across the ideological spectrum.”
“It’s time that five men on the Supreme Court stop deciding what happens to women,” tweeted Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who later released a statement saying “Today’s decision jeopardizes women’s access to essential health care.” Despite the Monday ruling, contraception is still legal and available for purchase throughout the country.
Hobby Lobby brought the case not because they oppose contraception, but because they oppose so-called “morning after pills” that may act as abortifacents.
“This decision takes money out of the pockets of women and their families and allows for-profit employers to deny access to certain health care benefits based on their personal beliefs,” said Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schulz. Today’s ruling does not allow corporations to fire employees for using contraception, or grant them the freedom to interrogate their employees about their sex lives.