Congressman Jim Bridenstine on the Hobby Lobby Decision
Washington, DC, June 30, 2014 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
This is a great day for religious liberty in America. The Supreme Court has ruled, although more narrowly than many would prefer, that closely held companies do not have to leave their deeply held religious convictions at the door of their businesses. I celebrate with the Green and Hahn families and offer my sincere appreciation for standing on their beliefs.
The Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods cases considered before the Supreme Court are all about fundamental First Amendment rights: Do citizens have the right to enter into business without abandoning their faith?
Both of these family-owned businesses started small. They have grown over the years without abandoning their deeply held convictions about how to interact with their employees while making a living and serving their communities. Then Obamacare forced them into a difficult decision.
The "HHS mandate" would require them to provide certain drugs and services that are readily available elsewhere, should their employees choose to use them. The problem is that a small number of these drugs and services violate the values of these employers, so they choose not to provide them as part of their employee benefits. The business owners are not denying their employees the right to make their own personal choices about whether to use these particular drugs and services. These families are simply choosing that their company will not provide the drugs and services. The Court has affirmed that family owned, "closely held" corporations have the right to make that choice.
This is a fundamental religious liberty concern not confined to any one group. Numerous members of widely diverse religious communities have sued over whether HHS can mandate that people must abandon the free exercise of religious convictions in order to operate a business in America today. While over half of Americans disapprove of Obamacare overall, even more oppose the HHS mandate.
The Obamacare fine for companies that do not provide insurance at all is $2,000 per year per employee. But companies like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga, which provide excellent healthcare coverage, would have been fined $36,500 per year per employee over a very small number of products the families find objectionable. The "Fine on Faith was $100 per employee per day. This would have amounted to approximately half a billion dollars per year for Hobby Lobby."
The irony is that the Obama Administration has chosen to exempt hundreds of thousands of others on purely secular grounds, but they chose to fight the Green and Hahn families all the way to the Supreme Court.
I believe the majority of the Court has made the correct judgment in upholding this fundamental constitutional right.
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