Republicans on the Hill cheered the 5-4 Supreme Court decision in favor of Hobby Lobby, particularly as they try to chip away at President Obama’s healthcare law, but Democrats said it steeled their resolve to press on.
“Today’s Supreme Court decision makes clear that the Obama administration cannot trample on the religious freedoms that Americans hold dear,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said. “Obamacare is the single worst piece of legislation to pass in the last 50 years, and I was glad to see the Supreme Court agree that this particular Obamacare mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).”
Fifteen current members of Congress, including McConnell, voted for RFRA in 1993.
The court found that privately held companies, such as family-owned Hobby Lobby, do not have to provide contraceptives to employees that violate the owners’ religious beliefs.
“Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court is an important victory to protect Americans’ fundamental right of religious freedom,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who authored the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act” and filed an amicus brief in support of Hobby Lobby. “Americans should not be forced to choose between giving up their business for their faith or giving up their faith for their business. I applaud the Court’s decision today, which simply affirms the fundamental religious freedom that Americans have enjoyed for more than 220 years.”
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) called the ruling “another blow against the Obama Administration’s unprecedented overreach into the lives of Americans.”
“The Justices made it clear that the Administration does not have the power to force religious leaders and organizations in our country to replace their own moral standards with Washington’s one-size-fits-all mandate,” Barrasso said.
“The Supreme Court’s decision is also another reminder that the President’s health care law was poorly written and continues to hurt more people than it helps.”
Democrats, though, were slower to react, lambasting the decision while weighing how the high court ruling could affect legislative efforts going forward.
“It is no surprise that Republicans have sided against women on this issue as they have consistently opposed a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions. Republicans have also blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would bring us closer to the promise of equal pay for women,” said Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.). “In the wake of this dangerous precedent set by the Supreme Court, Democrats in Congress will continue to fight on the issues of importance to women and their families.”
“While the First Amendment protects the rights of an individual to freely practice his or her religion, I fundamentally disagree with the idea that a for-profit corporation is capable of religious belief. Hobby Lobby is a nationwide chain employing more than 13,000 full-time employees and earning more than $2 billion in annual revenue. It is organized as a for-profit corporation and its owners receive all of the benefits that go along with that structure,” said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.).
“The argument that such a business – as opposed to its owners – has religious beliefs is an unfortunate, if predictable, consequence of the decision in Citizens United v. FEC. The Court has decided that the religious beliefs of a corporation’s owners are more important than those of the vast majority of Americans who see no conflict between their religion and safe, legal methods of contraception,” Coons continued.
“Decisions about a woman’s health care should be made in a doctor’s office, not in a boardroom. If certain contraceptive options violate a woman’s personal religious beliefs, she is free not to pursue those options, but her employer should not be allowed to make that decision for her.”