WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court handed down two historic rulings today ruling against Obama’s abortion pill mandate, upholding the right of Christian business owners to refuse to provide contraception drugs that may cause abortion to employees in a 5-4 decision.
What will go down in history as two of the most important rulings that will affect Christian business owners and their businesses for many years to come was decided today in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Burwell where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that government cannot force owners of closely-owned corporations to provide contraceptive drugs to employees if they hold religious beliefs that oppose them.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the main dissent.
In the 5-4 decision, the majority of the justices ruled that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act applies to privately-owned businesses, such as Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties which argued against the mandate.
“As applied to closely held corporations the HHS regulations imposing the contraceptive mandate violate RFRA,” the court held.
Alito wrote that “RFRA applies to regulations that govern the activities of closely held for profit corporations like Conestoga and Hobby Lobby,” and “[t]he HHS contraceptive mandate substantially burdens the exercise of religion.”
“The Government has failed to show that the contraceptive mandate is the least restrict means of furthering that interest,” according to the majority opinion.
Hobby Lobby, which is owned by the Green family, brought their challenge against the mandate in September of 2012 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.
The Greens, who identify themselves as evangelical Christians, provide most of the mandated contraceptives under the HHS mandate, but opposed the provision of having to provide the “morning after” and “week after” pills to employees. The mandate of these abortion-inducing drugs resulted in the legal challenge, which made its way to the nation’s highest court.
Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation, the plaintiff in the second case that was before the court, filed suit in December 2012 against the mandate, stating that it has never provided insurance coverage for medications that induce abortions, and doesn’t plan on doing so. It explained that terminating a life after conception violates its sincerely-held Mennonite beliefs, stating that it “is an intrinsic evil and a sin against God.”
The full ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. can be read here.