American Businesses Can Opt Out of Obamacare's Contraceptive Mandate
Thanks be to God. A narrow, very narrow victory for freedom:
(CNSNews.com) - 5-4: Americans Don’t Surrender Their Freedom When They Open a Family Business
The 5-4 opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, says the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) prohibits the government from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion.
But President Obama's Health and Human Services Department, in issuing the contraceptive mandate would have required the families who own Hobby Lobby, Conestoga and Mardel to "engage in conduct that seriously violates their sincere religious belief that life begins at conception.
"If they and their companies refuse to provide contraceptive coverage, they face severe economic consequences: about $475 million per year for Hobby Lobby, $33 million per year for Conestoga, and $15 million per year for Mardel. And if they drop coverage altogether, they could face penalties of roughly $26 million for Hobby Lobby, $1.8 million for Conestoga, and $800,000 for Mardel," the opinion says.
The government failed to show that "it lacks other means of achieving its desired goal without imposing a substantial burden on the exercise of religion."
In a concurring opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy said the government could choose to pay for contraception coverage itself, if it is so determined for women to have such coverage.
The conservative Family Research Council (FRC) called the ruling "one of the most significant victories for religious freedom in our generation."
The government "went too far by mandating that family businesses owners must violate their consciences under threat of crippling fines," said FRC President Tony Perkins in a statement.
"All Americans can be thankful that the Court reaffirmed that freedom of conscience is a long-held American tradition and that the government cannot impose a law on American men and women that forces them to violate their beliefs in order to hold a job, own a business, or purchase health insurance.
"The unfair HHS mandate gave family businesses two non-choices: either violate your deeply held moral beliefs and comply by paying for drugs and services to which you object, or pay crippling fines of up to $100 per day, per employee, for non-compliance. This mandate threatened the jobs, livelihood and healthcare of millions of Americans and forced those who stood up for their conscience, like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, to either comply or be punished.
Sen. David Vitter was among the many Americans hailing the U.S. Supreme Court for reaffirming "the most basic principle upon which our country was founded -- the free exercise of religion."
“This is truly a great day in America," said the Louisiana Republican on Monday, moments after the Supreme Court issued its 5-4 ruling, saying that closely held for-profit companies -- those controlled by a small number of individuals -- do not have to provide contraceptives, sterilization or abortifacients to their employees as required by the Obama administration.
"Obamacare's contraceptive mandate was always unconstitutional, and I'm glad the Supreme Court defended this most fundamental freedom today," said Vitter, who -- along with three other Republican senators -- filed a friend-of-the-court brief challenging the mandate.Perkins expressed the hope that the lower courts will follow the Supreme Court's lead and protect non-profits from the contraception mandate.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called the ruling "another defeat for an administration that has repeatedly crossed constitutional lines in pursuit of its Big Government objectives." Boehner said the Democrats' health care law "remains an unworkable mess and a drag on our economy," and he once again called for its repeal.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called Obamacare "the single worst piece of legislation to pass in the last 50 years," and he said he was glad to see the Supreme Court rule that the regulation requiring free birth control violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).”