June 30, 2014 is a day that was long anticipated and will be long remembered. On this monumental day, the Supreme Court of the United States passed a decision that favored the preservation of religious liberty and personal conviction with its decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.
The case finds its roots back in 2010, when President Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more commonly referred to as Obamacare. One of many concerns with the new law was the mandate from the Obama administration’s Health and Human Services Department, which would force employers to provide health insurance plans that include life-terminating drugs and devices. Severe fines would be imposed should an employer fail to provide such coverage, even if providing such things were against the employer’s beliefs.
Enter Hobby Lobby, the well-known craft store chain owned by the Green family, who operate their business in accordance with their personal convictions. Concerned over the employer mandate being inconsistent with their faith, the Green family entered the national spotlight. In September of 2012, Hobby Lobby filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma over the mandate that included four specific potentially life-terminating drugs and devices. Hobby Lobby was among one of several other businesses suing the Health and Human Services Department regarding the contraception controversy.
Originally known as Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, the case made its long trek through the court system. In March of 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments to determine whether “the government had the power to force family business owners to act against their faith solely on their companies’ form of organization.”
The ink had barely dried on the Court’s 5-4 decision before pro-abortion groups condemned the ruling. Cecile Richards and Sandra Fluke both weighed in via Twitter, encouraging their respective audiences to #JoinTheDissent, using Justice Ginsburg as their beacon of hope. Ginsburg, who claims that the decision is one of “startling breadth,” further laments that “legions of women” will be denied access to contraceptives.
The decision is anything but startling and should be perceived as a victory for all American citizens. Defending religious freedom is in no way an attack on women or their access to contraceptives. Justice Alito in his majority opinion writes, “The plain terms of RFRA [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993] make it perfectly clear that congress did not discriminate in this way against men and women who wish to run their businesses as for-profit corporations in the manner required by their religious beliefs.”
Ultimately, the Court concluded that enforcing the HHS mandate is unlawful in light of RFRA. This decision demonstrates the simple truth that makes America the great nation it is. We are a country founded on liberty, and the roots of truth affirm these principles.
Barbara Green, co-founder of Hobby Lobby expressed her joy with ruling when she said:
Our family is overjoyed by the Supreme Court’s decision. Today the nation’s highest court has re-affirmed the vital importance of religious liberty as one of our country’s founding principles. The Court’s decision is a victory, not just for our family business, but for all who seek to live out their faith. We are grateful to God and to those who have supported us on this difficult journey.