Tags: Healthcare Reform | Supreme Court | Hobby Lobby | RNC | birth control | Supreme Court | ruling

RNC Applauds Hobby Lobby Ruling as 'On the Side of Liberty'

By Andrea Billups   |   Monday, 30 Jun 2014 12:33 PM

The Republican National Committee expressed approval Monday morning after the Supreme Court ruled in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case that employers can refuse to pay for insurance coverage for employee contraception.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, in a statement, called the 5-4 ruling a victory for "religious freedom."

"The decision protects the religious freedom that is guaranteed to all Americans by the First Amendment, and we're grateful the court ruled on the side of liberty," Priebus said. "The central issue of this case was whether the federal government can coerce Americans to violate their deeply held religious beliefs, and thankfully the court has upheld the proper limits on the government's power."

Priebus used the court's decision to call out President Barack Obama and his Affordable Care Act, noting that Americans are fearful of the law's intrusion into their private lives.

"The fact that Americans had to bring this case in the first place reveals once again just how intrusive Obamacare is. It's a misguided, one-size-fits-all policy that not only failed to fix our healthcare system but has trampled on our constitutional rights," he said.

"Americans deserve a healthcare system that allows them to make the right choices for themselves, gives them more freedom, and comes nowhere close to encroaching on our First Amendment rights."

Experts noted Monday's much anticipated decision would serve to weaken Obamacare's sweeping reach, the National Journal reported.

Now the ball returns to the court of employers who must decide whether they will use the decision to opt out of such coverage for birth control.

In oral arguments, Justice Elena Kagan noted her fear that such a decision in favor of Hobby Lobby could open a window for companies to use it to opt out of anti-discrimination laws, as well.

"So another employer comes in and that employer says, 'I have a religious objection to sex-discrimination laws.' And then another employer comes in: 'I have a religious objection to minimum-wage laws.' And then another, family leave; and then another, child-labor laws," she noted.

But Justice Samuel Alito, writing in the decision handed down Monday, said the court's ruling narrowed the opt-out to religious views on birth control only.

The American Center for Law and Justice, which had filed amicus briefs in the case, joined the RNC to praise the decision as one that protected "freedom of conscience." The organization is representing 32 individuals and corporations with cases against the government, including two before the Supreme Court.

"The court clearly recognized that closely held corporations enjoy religious liberty rights just as they enjoy rights to free speech," noted ACLU chief counsel Jay Sekulow. "American citizens do not lose their religious freedom when they form a corporation and try to live out their religious values in the conduct of their business.

"Moreover, the court — by holding that closely held corporations cannot be forced to directly subsidize abortion-pills — dealt a severe blow to the Obama administration's ongoing assault on religious liberty and represents a significant setback to the abortion industry."

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