Last Modified: Sunday, July 06, 2014 2:45 PM
A recent Supreme Court ruling in favor of the family that owns the Hobby Lobby chain, in their claim that their religious liberties were being infringed upon by the Federal government, shows that “checks and balances” part of the U.S. Constitution still works.
The Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) mandated that companies give employees “free” contraceptives, and specified the specific types that must be offered.
While Hobby Lobby was reportedly willing to give its employees 16 types of contraceptives, it refused to offer four types which it said were abortifacients and could be destructive of embryonic human life. Lawyers for the Christian owners of the Hobby Lobby, argued that the requirement was an infringement on the family’s First Amendment religious liberty rights.
The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case. Sylvia Burwell is the current secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which imposed the contraceptive mandate as part of Obamacare. Justice Samuel Alito read the majority opinion, basing it primarily on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), and held that closely held corporations — usually meaning family owned corporations — have First Amendment religious liberty protections.
RFRA, a 1993 law signed by then President Bill Clinton, protects the people and some businesses from laws which “substantially burden[s] a person’s exercise of religion.” In 2000, RFRA was expanded and in 2006 it was upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court.
In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the court ruled that the HHS contraceptive mandate does, in fact, substantially burden the religious liberty rights of the Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby.
The landmark court case is a classic example of how the “checks and balances” of the Constitution is supposed to work. Each of the three branches of the Federal government, legislative, judicial and executive, is supposed to be a “check and balance” against each of the other branches, as a protection against tyrannical being assumed by one of the other branches.
In this case, it is the judicial branch which slapped down the executive branch for violating constitutional religious liberty rights.
Just the week prior to Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the high court also handed President Obama a stunning 9-0 rebuke when it ruled that his appointments of three persons to the National Labor Relations Board were invalid because the president misused his “recess appointment power.” The president is only allowed to make appointments without Senate approval, when the Senate is in recess. All nine justices voted against the president in that case, even the two he had appointed.
It is reassuring when our Constitution works as it is supposed to. All to often, either the courts, the president or the Congress, act in ways that seem to be out-of-bounds of what the Constitution allows.
Seeing the Constitution work as it is supposed to, should be reassuring to every citizen who cherishes our system of limited, constitutional government.
Posted By: Get real On: 7/7/2014
This case is just a way for big business to chip away at paying healthcare for its employees in the name of "religious freedom." I guarantee you they don't care one way or another about contraception (especially considering it came out that Hobby Lobby actually invested in companies that manufacture said medicine).
Posted By: Gerald Cuvillier On: 7/6/2014
We should not need a bill signed by Bill Clinton if the Constitution is still valid, it should stand on it's own merit.