ACRU: Hobby Lobby Ruling Is a 'Win for Religious Liberty'

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ObamaCare's abortifacient mandate violated Religious Freedom Restoration Act, ACRU's brief said.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 30, 2014) ---- In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld Hobby Lobby's constitutional right not to be forced to violate the conscience of the company's Christian owners.

"The ObamaCare order would have imposed ruinous fines on Hobby Lobby and other companies merely because the owners refused to violate their religious beliefs by paying for abortion drugs," said Susan A. Carleson, American Civil Rights Union Chairman. "This is a win for religious liberty."

"Obama's beleaguered Affordable Care Act includes a requirement that all employers offering insurance must make 'preventive care' part of their healthcare package," ACRU Senior Legal Analyst Ken Klukowski wrote for Breitbart.com. "The White House decided that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would issue a regulation declaring 'preventive care' includes numerous forms of birth control, including at least four that cause abortions in pregnant women.

"Two Christian-owned companies ---- home retail giant Hobby Lobby and a much smaller business, Conestoga Wood Specialties ---- filed suit. Hobby Lobby is owned by the Green family, who are Evangelical. Conestoga Wood Specialties is owned by the Hahn family, who are Mennonite."

In its ruling, the Court essentially agreed with the brief filed by the American Civil Rights Union.

Written by ACRU General Counsel Peter Ferrara, the brief in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., Mardel Stores Inc., David Green, et al. (renamed Burwell v. Hobby Lobby) notes that the Green family's refusal to offer insurance coverage of abortifacients to their employees is protected under the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

The brief asked the Court to affirm a ruling for Hobby Lobby on those grounds by the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

"This [Supreme] Court has long held that individuals have Free Exercise rights with respect to their for-profit businesses," the ACRU brief states. "And RFRA does not say that 'when individuals incorporate' a for-profit business, their 'Free Exercise rights somehow disappear.'" In the Tenth Circuit, "the government identified 'no principled reason why an individual who uses the corporate form in a business must thereby sacrifice the right to the free exercise of religion.'"

RFRA, which Congress enacted in 1993, says "the government 'shall not substantially burden a person's religious exercise' unless that burden satisfies the legal standards of strict scrutiny," a condition that the government has not met, the ACRU brief argues.

The Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby and Mardel, provides a self-funded health insurance plan to its employees. The plans cover 16 contraceptives, but not RU-486, "which can terminate a pregnancy by chemical poisoning of the baby in the womb," or coverage for "Plan B, Ella, and two types of intrauterine devices that can prevent an embryo from implanting in the womb, resulting in death of the embryo," the brief notes.

Under the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), Hobby Lobby faced "fines of $100 a day for each of its 13,000 employees, or at least $1.3 million per day or almost $475 million per year."

"Congress enacted RFRA after more than a century of jurisprudence recognizing that corporations exercise a broad range of constitutional rights," the brief states. "That is why corporations have long been treated as 'persons' under the Equal Protection Clause, the Due Process Clause and section 1983.

"The government Petitioner has failed to offer any compelling interest that would justify the particular substantial burden on religious liberty in this case. There is no showing of how allowing these two corporations' exemptions from four of the 20 contraceptive drugs and devices required by the contraceptive coverage mandate would adversely affect any compelling interest. Nor is there any showing that the contraceptive coverage mandate is the least restrictive means of serving any such compelling interest."

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