Tuesday, July 1, 2014

All Around the Web - Hobby Lobby SCOTUS Case

Read the decision here.

Russell Moore - Why Hobby Lobby Matters
This is as close as a Southern Baptist gets to dancing in the streets for joy. The Supreme Court just handed down the Hobby Lobby case, and ruled that the government cannot force closely-held corporations to violate their religious beliefs in the purchasing of abortion-causing drugs.

The ruling isn’t just a win for evangelicals, like the Southern Baptist Greens. It’s a win for everyone. Here’s why. A government that can pave over the consciences of the Greens can steamroll over any dissent anywhere. Whether you agree or disagree with us about abortion, every American should want to see a government that is not powerful enough to set itself up as a god over the conscience.

As Christians, we believe in obeying the law and honoring our government authorities (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet 2:13-17). But Jesus taught us to render unto Caesar what belongs to him, and to God what belongs to him. Our consciences are not held in a blind trust when we leave our church buildings on Sunday.

Albert Mohler - The Briefing Special Edition: Supreme Court Ruling on Hobby Lobby Case
This special edition of The Briefing is released in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case.

Today’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case represents a huge win for religious liberty in America, and the 5-4 decision will now stand as a landmark case that will reshape the religious liberty debate for generations to come. At the same time, the deeply divided court also revealed in startling clarity its own internal debates over religious liberty

Albert Mohler - The Hobby Lobby Decision: A Big Win for Religious Liberty — and a Very Revealing Divide on the Court
Today’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case represents a huge win for religious liberty in America, and the 5-4 decision will now stand as a landmark case that will reshape the religious liberty debate for generations to come. At the same time, the deeply divided court also revealed in startling clarity its own internal debates over religious liberty — and that division of understanding at the nation’s highest court is very disturbing indeed.

Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito declared that the Obama Administration had profoundly failed to meet the demands of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act [RFRA] and, more importantly, the demands of the U. S. Constitution. By mandating that corporations provide all forms of contraception or birth control for all female employees at no cost, the government had burdened the consciences of the Christian owners of Hobby Lobby, Mardel, and Conestoga Wood, the three corporations involved in the decision.

The Court restricted its decision to “closely held” private corporations. Hobby Lobby and Mardel are owned and operated by the family of David Green, who with his wife Barbara, began the company in their own home. Though much smaller than Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Wood is also a privately held corporation. The Green family is a bulwark of evangelical Christian conviction and generosity. The company pays its employees about twice the minimum wage, closes on Sundays, and references the Christian gospel in advertising. All along the way, the Green family makes clear that they are driven by Christian convictions in their corporate policies.

National Journal - The Supreme Court Just Dealt a Devastating Blow to Public Unions
The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision on Monday that mandatory public union dues violate some members' First Amendment rights.

In the ruling on Harris v. Quinn, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the precedent that had upheld the state of Illinois' right to require membership dues was shaky.

The issue at hand in Harris v. Quinn involves Pamela Harris, a home caregiver in Illinois who takes care of her disabled son. Harris is among home caregivers who have decided not to unionize through the Service Employees International Union, opting instead to bargain directly with the Medicaid recipients who decide how much money to allocate to their caregivers.
In the ruling, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the precedent that had upheld the state of Illinois' right to require membership dues was shaky. The court's precedent on public unions, a 1977 case called Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, found that non-union members may be required to pay membership dues in exchange for collective bargaining.

Associated PressJustices: Can't make employers cover contraception 
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that some corporations can hold religious objections that allow them to opt out of the new health law requirement that they cover contraceptives for women.

The justices' 5-4 decision is the first time that the high court has ruled that profit-seeking businesses can hold religious views under federal law. And it means the Obama administration must search for a different way of providing free contraception to women who are covered under objecting companies' health insurance plans.

Contraception is among a range of preventive services that must be provided at no extra charge under the health care law that President Barack Obama signed in 2010 and the Supreme Court upheld two years later.

Real Clear Politics - WH's Earnest on Hobby Lobby: We Are Looking For Some Action That Would "Mitigate" This Problem

Real Clear Politics - WH's Earnest on Hobby Lobby: "The Constitutional Lawyer In The Oval Office Disagrees"

Eric MetaxasHobby Lobby a Win for Religious Freedom
Yesterday the Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Products. By a 5-4 vote, the Court upheld Hobby Lobby’s and Conestoga Wood Product’s challenge to the so-called “Contraceptive mandate.”

Let me summarize what happened and tomorrow on BreakPoint, John Stonestreet will look more deeply at the decision.

So the principal issue in the case was whether certain for-profit businesses have a right to the free exercise of religion under the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. RFRA, as the act is dubbed, acknowledges that a governmental action that ostensibly has nothing to do with religion and is neutral on its face can nonetheless burden the free exercise of religion.

But, RFRA requires that any action that imposes such a burden must serve a “compelling governmental interest,” and must do so in the least restrictive way possible. And that is critical.

National Journal - Ginsburg: 'Radical' Hobby Lobby Ruling May Create 'Havoc'
The Supreme Court on Monday weakened Obamacare's controversial contraception mandate, ruling 5-4 that some employers cannot be forced to cover birth control as part of their health-insurance plans. The majority opinion, written by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, said such a mandate infringes on religious freedom, and thereby can be waived by certain business owners.

But in a blistering dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, joined by Justice Sotomayor, lambasted the majority opinion—delivered by five male justices—as "a decision of startling breadth" that would allow corporations to "opt out of any law … they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs."

The majority view "demands accommodation of a for-profit corporation's religious beliefs no matter the impact that accommodation may have on third parties who do not share the corporation owners' religious faith—in these cases, thousands of women employed by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga or dependents of persons those corporations employ" wrote Ginsburg, a stalwart member of the Court's liberal wing.

She continued: "Persuaded that Congress enacted the RFRA to serve a far less radical purpose, and mindful of the havoc the Court's judgment can introduce, I dissent."

Denny Burk - Grateful but Sobered by the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby Verdict
I have said before, and I will say it again that Obamacare’s contraception mandate forces one of the most egregious violations of religious liberty in our nation’s history. It forces pro-life business owners to pay for insurance plans that cover abortion-inducing birth control methods. For this reason, there was much at stake today in the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision.

That is why I breathed a sigh of relief when the Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby earlier today. In a narrow decision (5-4), the Court ruled that the federal government cannot run roughshod over the religious liberty of its citizens. In short, the Court found that the government must find the least restrictive means possible to advance the government’s compelling interest in providing free contraception to women. The Court’s majority said that the contraception mandate is in no way the “least restrictive means.” Not by a longshot. Because of this, the mandate runs afoul of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (1993). And so the Court found that Hobby Lobby does not have to submit to this unjust and coercive mandate embedded in Obamacare.

I cannot overstate how grateful I am for this decision. The Court’s ruling today will have ripple effects for generations to come. Some of the initial analysis after the decision focused on the blow this decision delivers to President Obama’s administration. I agree with that assessment, but that is small potatoes compared to the bigger picture. This decision is much bigger than the politics of the moment. Long after President Obama is gone, this decision will still be seen as a landmark case protecting a robust definition of religious freedom. And if this broad definition is unclear to some, it is not unclear to Justice Kennedy who wrote an opinion concurring with the majority.

Trevin Wax - The Supreme Court Agrees with Hobby Lobby, But Your Neighbor Probably Doesn’t
The long-awaited verdict from the Supreme Court regarding Hobby Lobby’s challenge to the Health and Human Services mandate to provide emergency contraceptives is in. The Court sided with the Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby, who claimed that because four of the required contraceptives are abortion-inducing drugs, paying for them would cause them to compromise their religious convictions.

Religious people who want to engage in business according to their most cherished values and principles breathed a sigh of relief at the ruling. But let’s remember that, while Christian business owners saw a favorable ruling from the Court, public opinion on this case hasn’t followed suit. As of last weekend:
A majority of Americans oppose letting employers, based on their religious views, exclude certain contraceptives from workers’ insurance coverage… The poll asked whether employers should be able to choose what forms of contraceptives their health plans provide based on their religious beliefs. Of those responding, 53 percent disagreed and 35 percent agreed. Of those surveyed, 12 percent said they did not know.

Real Clear Politics - Hillary Likens Abuse Of Women In "Unstable, Anti-Democratic" Countries To Hobby Lobby Decision

Denny Burk - Correcting the Record in light of Sec. Hillary Clinton’s false statements
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton weighed-in on the Hobby Lobby decision yesterday (see above), and her analysis is so egregiously in error that I could not let it pass without some comment.
She claims first of all that this is the first time that the Supreme Court has found that a corporation has religious freedom and thus that employers can impose their religious beliefs on employees. Now this is a curious characterization of yesterday’s opinion. Religious freedom does not give anyone—individual or corporate—the right to impose one’s beliefs upon someone else. Yet Clinton speaks as if the right of individuals to “impose their beliefs” has now been given to corporations. What a gross mischaracterization of our first freedom.

Furthermore, employees are still free in this country to buy contraceptives and abortifacient drugs. No one is preventing them from doing that. Yesterday, the Court said that they are not free to expect Christians and other people of conscience to pay for them. Hobby Lobby’s desire not to pay for their employees’ contraceptives is hardly “imposing” their religion onto them. Anyone who thinks that it is is either severely confused or cynically dishonest.

Kevin DeYoung - Hobby Lobby and the Liberty of Conscience
he Hobby Lobby case was not ultimately about abortion or contraception. It was about religious liberty more broadly, and, as far as my untrained legal eyes can tell, about three disputed matters in particular.

Here is a good summary of the issues as presented in the Amicus brief filed by Michigan, Ohio and eighteen other states in support of Hobby Lobby, Conestoga, and Mardel:
The threshold question here is whether for-profit, secular businesses may exercise religion and therefore fall within the religious liberty protections of RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed unanimously by the House, 97-3 by the Senate, and signed by President Clinton in 1993]. It is a question that is basic to American democracy. Its answer requires this Court to return to first principles. And the answer is a simple one.

Real Clear Politics - NOW President: We Will Politicize Hobby Lobby Decision

Walshslaw - If RFRA protects for-profit corporations, what’s to stop Jehovah’s Witnesses’ companies from refusing coverage for blood transfusions?

An argument against recognizing RFRA coverage of for-profit corporations that seems to be popping up with some regularity goes like this: Once courts recognize the right of evangelical employers to buy insurance coverage that excludes abortion-causing drugs and devices, or the right of Catholic employers to buy insurance coverage that excludes contraceptives, there is nothing to stop Jehovah’s Witness employers from buying insurance coverage that excludes coverage for blood transfusions. See, e.g., Matthew Boudway at dotCommonweal (“Should an overzealous Jehovah’s Witness be able to get a group plan that excludes coverage for emergency blood transfusions, even if none of his employees are coreligionists?”); Americans United for Separation of Church and State (“The logic of Plaintiffs’ argument would transcend the provision of coverage for contraception. A Jehovah’s Witness could choose to exclude blood transfusions from his company’s health-insurance coverage.”).

This argument obviously appeals to some, or they would not bother making it. But there are several reasons that the argument is weak. And the fact that some advance this argument seriously in reasoned public debate may work against improving mutual understanding of religious liberty.

Bill O'Reily - A big victory for traditional Americans

The Daily Signal - Today the Supreme Court Protected Religious Freedom
You don’t have to agree with Hobby Lobby or share its owners’ opposition to abortion to recognize that the government should not be able to force Americans to set aside their deeply held beliefs simply because they go into business.

Thankfully, the Supreme Court agreed and upheld the right of Americans to live and work according to their convictions in a 5- 4 decision today.

In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the justices ruled the government will not be able to force Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties to provide coverage of four drugs and devices that can end the life of a human embryo.

As Justice Samuel Alito noted in the majority opinion today, there were plenty of other ways for the government to provide the drugs and devices in question to women who wanted them without forcing private family businesses to violate their convictions.

Russell Moore - ERLC President Responds to Hobby Lobby Decision

Canon and Culture - A Postlude to Hobby Lobby
Yesterday morning the front page of Hobby Lobby’s website featured a discount on a four-by-six wooden block emblazoned with the simple declaration: “I Pray for America.” Nothing on the page even indirectly mentioned the Supreme Court’s landmark decision yesterday in Burwell v Hobby Lobby, but with regard to the Green family’s vision for an America that respects religious liberty, it’s hard not to conclude that they have been praying for America and that their prayers have been answered.

I’ve followed the progress of this case with keen interest. Academic professionals who study First Amendment law are watching this case. Christians involved with closely held, religiously motivated family corporations have nervously awaited this ruling. Pastors who watch over the souls of sincere believers who try to live out the dictates of their faith in the workplace have wondered what new realities might dawn upon their flocks because of this ruling. I fit into all three of those categories, so Justice Alito today had my rapt attention.

The academic side of me is thinking about the state of religious liberty in the United States after this ruling. It may be more complicated and nuanced than you think. Four realities come to mind.

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