Religious Freedom Advocates: ‘Justice Has Prevailed’ in Hobby Lobby Case
(CNSNews.com) – The Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case was met with relief and elation by advocates of religious freedom, who hailed the 5-to-4 decision as an important victory for business owners’ First Amendment rights while lamenting its limitations.
“Justice has prevailed,” said Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), in a joint statement with Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, chairman of the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, lauding the court’s decision.
“It’s a great day for the religious freedom of family businesses.”
But the bishops said that they will not rest until there is a fulll restoration of all Americans' religious freedom.
“Now is the time to redouble our efforts to build a culture that fully respects religious freedom,” the bishops added, noting that the ruling “did not decide whether the so-called ‘accommodation’ violates [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act] RFRA when applied to our charities, hospitals and schools, so many of which have challenged it as a burden on their religious exercise.”
Conservative members of Congress were also pleased with the ruling.
“I am extremely encouraged by today’s Supreme Court decision to uphold the religious liberty rights of the Green family of Hobby Lobby,” Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) said in a statement issued shortly after the ruling was released.
“At its core, today’s decision was about the right of individual and family business owners to be free from government mandates that force them to deny their sincerely-held religious beliefs. America was founded on the principle of religious freedom, and there is nothing more fundamental than the First Amendment. This decision represents a tremendous victory for the basic constitutional rights of every American.”
Others praised the court for curbing the federal government’s overreach and restoring freedom of conscience rights that were being denied under the HHS contraceptive mandate.
“This lawsuit has wrongfully been depicted as a conflict between religious employers and women, but the real question before the Court was whether there are limits to what government can compel from its citizens and if we are still a country that believes in freedom of conscience,” said Hadley Heath Manning, director of health policy at the Independent Women’s Forum.
"The mandate served only that group of women who support the president's radical pro-abortion agenda, an agenda that would sacrifice our constitutional right to the free exercise of religion at the altar of so-called reproductive rights,” pointed out Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America (CWA).
“It clearly works against those free-thinking women CWA represents who reject society's imposed feminist values for the freedom envisioned by our founding principles of liberty and justice for all.”
"The Justices have done the country a great service today by staying true to those principles and preserving religious liberty for all, including the women represented by the other side,” Nance said.
"The government requirement that businesses provide contraception coverage never had a constitutional leg to stand on, and yet the government continued to claim power it doesn’t have and to target people of faith. Today’s decision confirms what’s been true all along: business owners do not need to check their faith at their company doors,” said Tim Wildmon, president of American Family Association (AFA).
Twila Brase, co-founder and president of the Citizens Council for Health Freedom (CCHF), noted that religious business owners are not the only ones whose freedoms have been trampled upon by Obamacare.
“Our government has worked to force everyone to do something politicians think is best regardless of conscientious beliefs,” Brase said. “Today’s decision has given back freedom to a certain group when it comes to the contraception mandate."
“But Obamacare has essentially trampled over the freedoms of all Americans, including those who want to be free from government health care altogether. That will be the next step to fight for. And that, of course, will require repealing the law," Brase said.
Religious leaders called the ruling “a huge victory,” not only for business owners who want to practice their faith, but also for the unborn.
“This is a rebuke to the Obama administration's extremist argument that the government can force employers to choose between their faith and crippling fines. Our First Freedom stands tall, and Americans can go on with their business without fear of government bullies targeting them for their faith," said Ashley McGuire, senior fellow at The Catholic Association.
The ruling “sends an unmistakable message to the Obama administration that it cannot continue to run roughshod over the religious liberty rights of Americans,” agreed Catholic League president Bill Donohue.
“This decision will further disable ObamaCare: Over 100 million are already exempt, and now we can add ‘Hobby Lobby’ type businesses to the list. Not for nothing does Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg fear that this ruling may cause ‘havoc’ to ObamaCare. Hope she's right,” Donohue added.
“This case marks a huge victory for religious liberty and rights of conscience,” said Dr. Alex McFarland, director of the Center for Christian Worldview at North Greenville University.
“But it’s also important to understand that this is also a win for the rights of the unborn. To require companies to pay for access to abortion-inducing drugs, which is what the Obamacare contraception mandate does, is forcing companies to put their money into the philosophy that says killing the unborn is acceptable and desirable,” McFarland said.
But not everybody was happy with the court’s decision.
“NARAL’s message has always been clear: bosses who want control over their employees' personal medical decisions are offensive, out of touch, and out of bounds, and so is this ruling,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue.
“We call upon Congress to right this wrong, and we will work tirelessly with our allies and member activists to make sure that the people who would stand between a woman and her doctor are held accountable," she said.
“This is not a decision that advances religious freedom – it is a decision that enshrines religious privilege over and above employee well-being,” claimed Ronald Lindsay, president and CEO of the Center For Inquiry (CFI), which filed an amicus brief in support of the contraceptive mandate.
“Today’s Court decision by five men sets an outrageous precedent, putting women’s health at risk by singling out women’s health care for discrimination,” agreed Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of UltraViolet.
“This ruling is startling in its sweeping implications-- and imperils women’s access to comprehensive health care. We urge President Obama and Congress to take action to immediately remedy this injustice,” she said.