Supreme Court Slows Obamacare’s Abortion Agenda

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The Supreme Court waited until the last day of its term to issue its highly anticipated opinion in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties.

The narrow 5-4 decision negates the “contraceptive mandate” of the Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations issued to implement the Affordable Care Act (i.e., Obamacare). Heretofore, these regulations required the owners of so-called “closely held” business enterprises to include insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs and devices, even when that kind of coverage violated their religious convictions. The holding is an important victory for religious liberty and a blow to pro-choice advocates who painted opposition to the mandate as a women’s rights issue.

Justice Samuel Alito delivered the opinion of the high court with his usual clarity. The court’s majority relied upon the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which Congress passed in 1993 and which President Clinton signed into law. The RFRA requires the Supreme Court to use a particular three-point approach to religious liberty cases involving the federal government. If federal governmental action: 1) substantially burdens the free exercise of religions; 2) and its purpose is not compelling, or; 3) if it fails to use the least restrictive means to its end, then the RFRA brands it illegal. Justice Alito’s opinion worked its way through the requirements of the RFRA.

The court first found that the federal contraceptive mandate imposed a “substantial burden” on the religious exercise of the two families, the Hahns and the Greens, owners of the companies in question. If they refused to comply with the HHS contraceptive fiat, they faced fines for “as much as $1.3 million per day, or about $475 million per year.” It was either pay up or forfeit one’s religious beliefs. Alito said: “If these consequences do not amount to a substantial burden, it is hard to see what would.”

Next, the court assumed without deciding that the government may have had a “compelling interest” in issuing the regulations. It stresses that it was “unnecessary to adjudicate this issue.”

Thirdly, since the federal government had “already devised and implemented a system that seeks to respect the religious liberty of religious non-profit corporations while insuring employee access to contraceptives,” President Obama and his HHS had a “less restrictive means” of achieving their end; but they failed to make it available to for-profit enterprises owned and operated by persons with religious convictions. Therefore, said the majority, “The contraceptive mandate, as applied to closely held corporations, violates the RFRA.”

Justice Alito cogently refutes one of the central claims of the government’s opposition to Hobby Lobby and Conestoga. That assertion was that corporations do not have free exercise of religion rights. First, Alito explained that the language of the RFRA refers to the religious liberty of “persons” being protected from federal proscription. Federal law unambiguously includes “corporations” in the definition of “persons.” Secondly, “protecting the free exercise rights of corporations like Hobby Lobby, [and] Conestoga … protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control these companies.”

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Watch: Feminist Leader Gets Owned Over Hobby Lobby Ruling

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Appearing on Hannity Tuesday night, The Blaze’s Dana Loesch and Patricia Ireland (a leader in the feminist movement and former president of the National organization for Women) clashed hard over the decision of the Hobby Lobby case.

The two were at opposite ends early and often, beginning when Ireland claimed that Hobby Lobby was denying women basic health care needs.

Loesch interrupted by reminding Ireland that Hobby Lobby was already providing 16 of the 20 forms of contraception well before they were even mandated by Obamacare.

“They were providing birth control to their employees, who they pay way above the minimum wage by the way and gave Sundays off, they were doing this before Obamacare was even a thought,” Loesch said. “Women who work for Hobby Lobby, they still have access to birth control as provided by Hobby Lobby.”

Hobby Lobby only rejects being forced by government to provide 4 types of emergency contraception such as Plan B, also known as the “morning after pill,” which is believed to be similar to abortion.

When asked why she couldn’t respect the family-owned business’ religious beliefs, Ireland said she doesn’t believe “the commercial business has religious views.”

Ireland went on to say, “a woman’s right under a federal law to health coverage shouldn’t be denied based on the corporation owner’s views.”

Close to seething at this point, Loesch couldn’t hold back, “I’m sure Patricia [Ireland] is an educated woman, but it does women a disservice when we have women speaking out on this topic and they don’t seem to understand the facts at hand — so let me set something straight here,” she began.

“I understand completely the facts; I just disagree with your conclusions,” Ireland interrupted.

“No, apparently you don’t, so I’m going to educate you,” Loesch continued.

She reminded Ireland that under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, business would have to prove to the government that their religious beliefs and First Amendment rights are being restricted or violated.

“The hypothetical slippery slope, ridiculous argument that, ‘Well they could just deny all health care,’ [that Ireland was arguing] wouldn’t actually be supported by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. So it’s a bunk, fallacious argument that we are wasting time discussing.”

At this point, Hannity was forced to end the segment, denying either the chance to continue despite each party having a lot more to say and becoming all the more embattled.

Perhaps this is an analogy that can explain the logic of Ireland and others like her:

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Scope For Conscience

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The major media’s account of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case was typical of the way the case has been misreported from the start. The New York Times headline read, “Supreme Court Rejects Contraceptives Mandate for Some Corporations.” Politico led with “SCOTUS sides with Hobby Lobby on birth control.” Others were similar.

That’s not what the case was about, and you’d think that major news organizations might at least get the basic facts straight. The litigants — the Green and Hahn families, owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties respectively — did not have religious objections to contraception. They might have if they were Catholic; but they weren’t, and they didn’t.

The Hahns are Mennonites and the Greens Christians of no particular denomination. Both families provided coverage for contraceptives in their health plans. Hobby Lobby provided coverage for 18 different methods of birth control. What both the Greens and the Hahns objected to were the regulations promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services that would have required them, on pain of severe fines, to cover four more methods, including the morning after pill, that the litigants (and not just they) consider abortifacients.

No matter how many times the press calls this a case about contraception, the truth is that it was about abortion. Neither family could, in conscience, be a party to paying for abortion.

The HHS regulations exempted some corporations from the regulations, including churches, some nonprofits, and the “exclusively religious activities of any religious order.” Religion, the government essentially argued, was something that people do on Sunday mornings or in specifically religious organizations like Catholic Charities. But a for-profit corporation, the government argued, could not possibly “exercise religion.”

Yet, as Justice Samuel Alito argued for the majority, people do not lose their free exercise rights when they form for-profit organizations. “A corporation is simply a form of organization used by human beings to achieve desired ends.” And just because a corporation is organized to earn a profit doesn’t mean that it cannot perform religious or other laudable, nonprofit maximizing goals. Corporations may “take costly pollution-control and energy conservation measures that go beyond what the law requires. A for-profit corporation that operates facilities in other countries may exceed the requirements of local law regarding working conditions and benefits.”

There were good constitutional arguments for ruling that the HHS mandate violates the free exercise clause of the First Amendment. The Constitution itself showed deference to the religious objections of Quakers and Mennonites at the time of adoption to swearing oaths. The Constitution accordingly requires that officeholders “swear or affirm” their oath of office.

But the Supreme Court did not reach constitutional questions because perfectly clear statutes, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, required the government to give the broadest possible scope to the free exercise of religion.

RFRA forbids the government from “substantially burdening” a person’s free exercise of religion, unless the burden is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of achieving that governmental interest.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Amazing: Watch Boys Pray To Stop Abortion During Visit To Planned Parenthood

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How often do you see a cheerful group of forty young men praying the rosary outside Planned Parenthood?

The participants of the 2014 Call to Chivalry Camp put the spirit of Catholic knighthood into practice with a simple yet powerful demonstration on June 11 outside the Planned Parenthood center in Camden, New Jersey. Several boys held a banner, stating: “With God’s grace, our generation will stop abortion.” The honks were continuous in response to a “Honk for Life” sign.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Breaking: Supreme Court Just Announced Its Ruling In Hobby Lobby Case, And It’s Huge

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Striking yet another blow to the troubled ObamaCare law, a majority ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court Monday upheld the contention held by craft store chain Hobby Lobby that part of the healthcare program violates religious liberty. At issue is a mandate requiring employers to provide contraceptives the corporation’s owners believe is tantamount to abortion.

A Pennsylvania furniture company, Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., joined Hobby Lobby in the case. A number of other businesses across the nation have voiced similar concerns, seeking remedy in the court system.

In a 5-4 decision along ideological lines, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the hefty fines – up to $475 million – imposed upon any business that fails to abide by the law amounts to an unjust burden.

“If these consequences do not amount to a substantial burden,” he explained, “it is hard to see what would.”

He did make it clear that the ruling is limited in its scope, allowing businesses to drop only the contraceptive mandate due to religious objection. The decision also applies only to companies owned by a family or small group. In such cases, the court found, the business in question is virtually inseparable from its owners.

The liberal wing of the court, of course, saw the case differently. Writing for the dissenting opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg found that the ruling “discounts the disadvantages religion-based opt outs impose on others, in particular, employees who do not share their employer’s religious beliefs.”

Alito, however, determined there are other ways the Obama administration can ensure women have access to the contested contraceptives. He wrote that the government could pay for such coverage directly or, as with strictly religious organizations, it could allow an unaffiliated company to provide such drugs.

Despite its caveats, advocates of religious freedom celebrated Monday’s ruling.

Others apparently believe Barack Obama will not simply allow this ruling to stand without attempting to supersede it through his exercise of executive power.

On the left, there are plenty of voices describing the decision as detrimental to women’s rights and the rule of law.

Hobby Lobby attorney Adele Keim of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty concluded it is “a great day for religious liberty.”

As the Supreme Court finished its session Monday, the Hobby Lobby ruling came on the heels of several other decisions backing the prevailing conservative opinion. Last week, justices found a number of Obama’s board appointments were invalid as they did not occur during a proper congressional recess, backed the right of pro-life activists to congregate near abortion facilities, and limited authorities’ access to personal information found in suspects’ cell phones.

Photo Credit: DangApricot (Creative Commons)

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom