Gary Bauer: Supreme Court Upholds Religious Liberty

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Monday, June 30, 2014

To: Friends & Supporters

From: Gary L. Bauer 


Supreme Court Upholds Religious Liberty 

For the third time in less than two weeks, the Supreme Court has rebuked the Obama Administration for its overreach. Today the court ruled 5-to-4 that Hobby Lobby and other closely held businesses cannot be forced to subsidize abortion-inducing drugs in violation of their deeply held religious beliefs. 

Politico described today’s ruling as “a huge black eye for Obamacare, the administration and its backers,” adding that the justices have reinforced the argument of conservative critics that “[Obamacare] and President Barack Obama are encroaching on Americans’ freedoms.” 

In deciding the case, the Supreme Court first considered whether corporations could even claim, as Hobby Lobby did, that they possessed religious freedom rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Obama Administration effectively argued that business owners had to abandon their religious values at the company door. But the Supreme Court rejected that position 7-to-2.

Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito declared: 

“We doubt that the Congress that enacted [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act] — or, for that matter, [Obamacare] — would have believed it a tolerable result to put family-run businesses to the choice of violating their sincerely held religious beliefs or making all of their employees lose their existing healthcare plans.”


Allow me to “rewind the tape” and remind you of just how extreme the administration’s position was in this case. If religious liberty, as the administration claimed, applies only to churches and not individuals and the businesses they operate, then there really isn’t freedom of religion. If it only means that the government can’t force your wife to have an abortion, but it can force you as an employer to pay for your employees’ abortions, that’s not much of a right. 

But that is exactly the power the Obama Administration claimed it had in this case. Consider this exchange during oral arguments between Justice Anthony Kennedy, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, representing the Obama Administration, and Chief Justice John Roberts: 

JUSTICE KENNEDY: Under your view, a profit corporation … could be forced in principle to pay for abortions. … your reasoning would permit that.

GENERAL VERRILLI: Well, I think that … it would depend on the law and it would depend on the entity. It certainly wouldn’t be true, I think, for religious nonprofits. It certainly wouldn’t be true for a church.

JUSTICE KENNEDY: I’m talking about a profit corporation. You say profit corporations just don’t have any standing to vindicate the religious rights of their shareholders and owners.

GENERAL VERRILLI: Well, I think that if it were for a for­profit corporation and if such a law like that were enacted, then you’re right, under our theory that the for­profit corporation wouldn’t have an ability to sue.But there is no law like that on the books. … [Emphasis added.]

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: I’m sorry… There is no law on the books that does what? …

GENERAL VERRILLI: That requires for­profit corporations to provide abortions.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Isn’t that what we are talking about in terms of their [Hobby Lobby’s] religious beliefs? One of the religious beliefs is that they have to pay for these four methods of contraception that they believe provide abortions. I thought that’s what we had before us.


Just to be clear, this case was not about contraception. The Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, did not object to contraception. An attorney representing the Green family noted that the insurance plan offered to Hobby Lobby employees covers 16 out of 20 forms of contraception — just not the four abortion-inducing methods demanded by Obamacare. And, clearly, the Obama Administration believed it could demand even more. 

While we celebrate this victory, the fact remains that four justices on the Supreme Court, including the two appointed by Obama, evidently share his narrow view of America’s first freedom and were willing to trample the religious liberty of millions of Americans in order to advance their radical pro-abortion agenda.

This narrow decision, with four liberal justices eager to go the wrong way, is a stark reminder to every man and woman of faith that their religious liberty is hanging by a thread. 

It would be a terrible mistake to assume that the battle over religious liberty is over. Quite the contrary. The left and its allies are attacking our values non-stop. Bakers, florists, photographers are being forced to participate in same-sex weddings. That fight is still very much alive and was not addressed in today’s narrow opinion. 

The left has critical mass. The attack on faith is not coming from just big government. Remember how the business community forced Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to veto legislation protecting religious liberty? We must remain vigilant. 



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