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The nation’s high court made a bold statement Monday with its 5-4 ruling in favor of religious freedom: Christian business owners still have the right to live out their faith. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Obama administration cannot force Hobby Lobby — or any closely held business — to offer possible abortifacients in employee health plans.
News outlets, though, continue to claim the case was all about “contraception.” Focus on the Family Judicial Analyst Bruce Hausknecht explains why that is misleading.
“Don’t buy the hype that this case is about contraceptives or even abortion,” he explained. “Those are talking points from the Left that serve only to distract from what is really going on.”
In Monday’s majority opinion, Justice Alito was very clear about the issue at hand: The Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA).
In holding that the HHS mandate is unlawful, we reject HHS’s argument that the owners of the companies forfeited all RFRA protection when they decided to organize their businesses as corporations rather than sole proprietorships or general partnerships.
Monday’s ruling is “fundamentally about religious freedom,” Hausknecht said.
“This is about whether the government can coerce an employer and its owners, who are people of faith, to violate their conscience in order to comply with a law. The Supreme Court quite reasonably pointed out that the federal government had alternatives available to it to accomplish its policy goals that didn’t trample on the rights of religious business owners. What is so unreasonable about that conclusion?”
While many recognize the ruling as a major victory for our First Amendment rights, others are falsely claiming the decision is a “war on women.”
Carly Fiorina, chairman of Unlocking Potential Project and former CEO of Hewlett Packard, said on Fox News we must combat these claims with facts.
The notion that this decision “intervenes between us and our doctors — it’s a lie,” she said. “This is propaganda — this is not political debate.”
These cases now return to the trial courts. Hausknecht said the Supreme Court decision gives Conestoga Wood and Hobby Lobby “a leg up.”
“Those courts,” he said, “are probably going to rule in their favor.”
Pictured above: Focus on the Family Judicial Analyst Bruce Hausknecht
Justices who ruled in favor of the families: Alito, Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia and Thomas.
Justices who dissented: Breyer, Ginsberg, Kagan and Sotomayor. _______________________________________________________________________
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the decision in Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Burwell and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores.
Watch “Hobby Lobby: A Family Business.”
Read the complaint in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius.
Watch “Conestoga Wood Specialties.
Read the complaint in Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius.
Six more religious groups were granted relief from the HHS mandate, following the Supreme Court ruling Monday in favor of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties.
Two federal courts issued decisions involving Eternal Word Television Network and five Catholic institutions in Wyoming. The groups object to the HHS mandate in Obamacare. It would have required them to provide possible abortion-causing drugs in their company health plans. The move comes just in time to save them from paying crippling fines that would have begun today.
“Thanks to the courts’ decisions, Eternal Word can now freely practice what they preach,” said Lori Windham, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “The death knell is sounding for the HHS mandate.”
“The ruling in Hobby Lobby, and then these two rulings in quick succession, show that the HHS mandate is on its last legs when it comes to religious non-profits,” Windham said. “The sad part is that it has taken almost three years of litigation to get to a result the administration should have supported in the first place, because it is the right thing to do. Government shouldn’t be in the business of forcing nuns to violate their religious convictions.”
The nation’s high court agreed today to review a case involving an Arizona church that wants to post signs outside its building.
An ordinance in the town of Gilbert, a suburb of Phoenix, allows local governments to impose stricter regulations on temporary church signs than on other temporary, non-commercial signs.
“No law should treat the speech of churches worse than the speech of other similar speakers,” said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel David Cortman. “Towns cannot apply stricter rules to church signs when it doesn’t apply them to ideological, political, and other non-commercial signs.”
The ordinance sets the following regulations:
- Political signs may be up to 32 square feet, displayed for many months and unlimited in number
- Ideological signs can up to 20 square feet, displayed indefinitely and unlimited in number
- Church signs can only be six square feet, displayed for no more than 14 hours and limited to four per property
ADF is asking the Supreme Court to reverse a federal appeals court decision. The 9th Circuit ruled 2-1 in favor of the ordinance.
In a dissent accompanying the ruling, Circuit Judge Paul Watford underscored the discrepancies among the sign regulations:
What we are left with, then, is Gilbert’s apparent determination that ‘ideological’ and ‘political’ speech is categorically more valuable, and therefore entitled to greater protection from regulation, than speech promoting events sponsored by non-profit organizations. That is precisely the value judgment that the First and Fourteenth Amendments forbid Gilbert to make.”
The appeals court decision “is out of step with the Constitution and the decisions of other circuits,” Cortman said. “We hope the Supreme Court will reverse the 9th Circuit’s decision.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the ADF’s brief filed with U.S. Supreme Court in Reed v. Town of Gilbert.
A 5-4 decision at the U.S. Supreme Court confirms family owned corporations have religious rights. Kim Trobee and Bruce Hausknecht discuss the Hobby Lobby decision.
True Story of Sam Childers, the 'Real Machine Gun Preacher' to Raise One Million Dollars to Help Children of South Sudan in Current Civil War
Pro-life leaders rejoiced at the Supreme Court decision affirming religious freedom:
“In holding that the HHS mandate is unlawful, we reject HHS’s argument that the owners of the companies forfeited all RFRA protection when they decided to organize their businesses as corporations rather than sole proprietorships or general partnerships.”
“These families’ stand for freedom benefits the many faith-based businesses faced with the same awful choice of deciding between their faith and livelihood. It also vindicates a higher principle, showing that government must tread carefully when it seeks to impose policies contrary to our most cherished rights.”
—Focus on the Family President Jim Daly
“We thank the courageous Hahn and Green families for standing strong. They have had to endure the abuse of the radical abortion lobby and others who say they respect diversity but, in fact, endorse and impose conformity. Their message that women want free abortifacient drugs – and that they value these drugs above religious liberty – is demeaning to all American women and will be rejected by voters nationwide this fall, Americans of faith and conscience have been vindicated and this will be a galvanizing moment for the vast majority of citizens who vehemently objected to this mandate and the elected leaders who thrust it upon us.”
—Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser
“I am proud that our Supreme Court has upheld the fundamental religious liberties of American citizens to engage in the free exercise of their religious beliefs, not only in their houses of worship, but also in their day to day lives, in business as well as at home,” “Our Justices have affirmed that Americans must not be compelled to put aside their religious beliefs and values as a pre-condition to their entering into the sphere of commerce and making a living for themselves and their families.”
—Thomas Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society
“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.”
—Barbara Green, co-founder of Hobby Lobby
“We in the Hahn family want to thank everyone who supported us during this lawsuit. We wholeheartedly affirm what the Supreme Court made clear today – that Americans don’t have to surrender their freedom when they open a family business. As I said at the beginning of this lawsuit, this effort wasn’t just for Conestoga. We took this stand for others as well. The administration has gone too far in disrespecting the freedom of Americans to live out their convictions.”
—Conestoga Wood Specialties President and CEO Anthony Hahn
“Hobby Lobby [and Conestoga Wood Specialities] refused to render to Caesar what belongs to God: their consciences. The Supreme Court agreed.”
—Dr. Russell Moore of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
“This is a much-needed victory for faith freedoms, because this administration continues its assault on the values of the faith community. We are witnessing increasing attempts by the government to coerce the faith community to adopt the government’s viewpoint in matters of conscience.”
—David Stevens, CEO of Christian Medical Association
“Today’s decision is a strong rejection of the Obama’s administration’s faulty argument that Americans’ religious freedom ends when they open a family business. The government cannot unreasonably force Americans to set aside their beliefs simply because they go into business to provide for themselves, their families, and their employees.”
— The Heritage Foundation’s Religious Liberty Policy Analyst Sarah Torre and Senior Legal Policy Analyst Elizabeth Slattery
“Today’s decision is a victory for common-sense as pro-life Americans do not lose their First Amendment freedoms when they open a family business or when they value unborn life.”
—Americans United for Life President Charmaine Yoest
CitizenLink is proud to work with the Pennsylvania Family Instituteand other family policy organizations across the country to stand for marriage, life and religious freedom. Learn more about the one in your state.
Liberty in America was affirmed and protected today as the United States Supreme Court sided with advocates for First Amendment freedoms, and rejected government overreach into the lives of those who own and operate businesses.
Pennsylvania Family Institute (PFI) congratulates the Hahn Family, old-order Mennonites from Lancaster County and the founders and owners of Conestoga Wood Specialties, who challenged the federal government’s contraceptive drug coverage mandate.
“The Hahns made it very clear from the start being forced to provide employee coverage for drugs that can cause an abortion would be a severe violation of their religious faith and conscience,” said Michael Geer, PFI President. “Today’s ruling will permit them to continue to operate their company, continue to provide and care well for their employees, and also maintain the rights of conscience and religious freedom that brought their ancestors to our shores,” added Geer.
Pennsylvania Family Institute’s Independence Law Center initiated the case on behalf of the Hahn family and Conestoga Wood Specialties in December 2012. Despite losses at the Federal District and Appeals Court levels, the Hahns stayed the course, understanding the significant liberty issues that were at stake.
At the Appeals court level, attorneys from the Alliance Defending Freedom joined with the Independence Law Center in supporting Conestoga Wood. At the Supreme Court, the case was combined with a similar challenge brought by Hobby Lobby, and attorneys from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty engaged on behalf of both parties.
The Pennsylvania Family Institute applauds the excellent teamwork and cooperation among the families, companies, organizations and attorneys that brought about today’s decision which affirms and protects our most precious liberties.
“We thank the many friends and supporters of Pennsylvania Family Institute and the Independence Law Center for their prayers and financial support that enables us to vigorously defend liberty,” said Michael Geer. “Your involvement and generosity was key to today’s win and will enable our continued vigilance on behalf of freedom.”
by the Pennsylvania Family Institute
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the Pennsylvania Family Institute.