As the United States Supreme Court reached and announced their decision that corporations can hold religious objections that allow them to opt out of the Obamacare requirement that they cover contraceptives; Oklahoma elected officials are reacting with strong support. Statements from Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe, Rep. James Lankford and Governor Mary Fallin follow:
Attorney General Scott Pruitt says ruling a pivotal victory
Attorney General Scott Pruitt commented on today’s historic ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. saying the ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby was a pivotal victory for religious liberty in America.
“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a pivotal victory for religious liberty. This ruling reaffirms the principle that America is a nation that recognizes first among our unalienable rights is the right to freely exercise our faith. I am thankful the Green family courageously stood up for their beliefs in the face of severe penalty from the federal government. I am humbled to have supported the Green family throughout this arduous process and congratulate them on today’s victory,” Attorney General Pruitt said.
“The founders understood our freedoms emanate from our Creator and not our government, and therefore cannot be curtailed or managed by government. The founders established a Constitution to protect Americans’ religious freedom from an intrusive federal government. Today’s ruling solidifies the principle that our religion is not a silent practice confined to the four walls of a church, but it is an opportunity to live out our faith in the public square,” Attorney General Pruitt said.
The state of Oklahoma supported Hobby Lobby during each stage of this lawsuit, filing friend of the court briefs supporting the Green family’s challenge of the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act. Click here to read Oklahoma’s brief filed at the Supreme Court supporting Hobby Lobby. Click here to read the Supreme Court’s opinion, which cites and quotes Oklahoma’s amicus brief (page 25).
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) statement on Hobby Lobby Ruling:
“The Green family has built a successful business based on principles that are rooted in their deeply held faith. Today the Supreme Court ruled to protect those principles and the religious liberties of private employers. ObamaCare’s mandate that employers provide abortion inducing drugs to employees violated the conscience of the Greens. Instead of succumbing to enormous financial penalties for failing to comply, the Green family stood strong in their faith and successfully fought against the intrusions of the federal government and preserved their right to religious freedom.”
On Jan. 27, 2014, Inhofe joined Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and 13 Members of Congress in filing a legal brief with the Supreme Court arguing that a federal mandate requiring that women’s contraception, including abortifacient drugs, be covered by all health insurance plans violates the RFRA.
U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) Statement on Hobby Lobby Ruling:
The Supreme Court’s decision today is a victory for all Americans. The Court wisely affirmed that it is wrong for the government to violate the freedom of conscience and religious liberties of American citizens. Religious freedom is the foundation of all of our rights and that foundation was strengthened by today’s ruling.
Hobby Lobby’s success has always been based on its owners – the Green family’s – work ethic and character, which are informed by their religious beliefs. Hobby Lobby is closed on Sunday, they pay their employees a livable wage, they provide health insurance for their employees, and they support numerous charities across the nation. I am pleased the Supreme Court sent a message to other business owners and entrepreneurs across America that they don’t have to surrender their Constitutional rights when opening a business.
Finally, this case was not about access to birth control, but government coercion. Hobby Lobby, which employs thousands of Americans across the country, provides its employees with quality health care insurance, including coverage for nearly all FDA approved contraceptives. This case was about the federal government forcing Hobby Lobby’s owners to choose between paying for life-ending drugs and devices and violating their beliefs, or crippling their business. I’m pleased the Court ruled in favor of freedom.
Representative James Lankford (R-Okla.): Religious Freedom preserved
“The court’s decision today in favor of Hobby Lobby affirms every Americans’ constitutional right to religious liberty. In a time when our constitutional liberties are under attack, today’s decision represents a significant victory to preserve those rights,” said Lankford. “I applaud Hobby Lobby and its owners for tenaciously pursuing protection of religious liberty on behalf of themselves, their employees and all Americans.
“The Court’s opinion affirmed that the President cannot tell individuals with sincere religious beliefs they can only practice their faith in the privacy of their home but not in other areas of their life. In addition to the religious liberty victory, this decision also limits this Administration’s capacity to fine faith-based companies out of existence for failing to comport with the President’s beliefs. Since the case centers around companies with greater than fifty employees, it would have created an arbitrary change in citizen rights and companies who grow past fifty people. The Court rejected the argument that if your company grows past fifty people, you lose your religious freedom.”
Obamacare’s individual mandate required Hobby Lobby to provide free coverage, including drugs that can cause abortions, in their employer-sponsored health plans or face fines of $36,500 per employee per year. Obamacare would have forced Hobby Lobby to decide between complying with rules that violated their beliefs or drop healthcare coverage for all employees and direct them to the Obamacare exchanges, for which Hobby Lobby would have been fined $2,000 per employee per year.
“People of faith should never be compelled by the federal government to choose between practicing their faith and participating in the market,” continued Lankford. “As Americans, we pride ourselves on empowering any individual, regardless of faith, to live the American dream. We should not allow secularism to dictate the free practice of religion.
“Hobby Lobby never argued against the ability for women to access contraceptives; they simply do not believe in being forced by the federal government to cover abortifacients. Today’s decision merely protects a closely held corporation like Hobby Lobby from being forced to pay for drugs that could cause abortions that go against their Christian beliefs.
“When Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in 1993, they rightfully reaffirmed religious liberty for all Americans. The day-to-day operation of a closely held company should not include losing any of their enumerated rights to liberty. In a time when so many things in Washington diminish hope for our nation’s future, this ruling is a breath of fresh air,” concluded Lankford.
Governor Fallin also issued a statement on the Hobby Lobby case:
“Religious liberty is one of the principles this nation was founded upon. It is a freedom woven into the fabric of this country and expressly outlined in our Bill of Rights. The Supreme Court acted today to protect religious liberty and defend our citizens from an overreaching, overbearing federal government.
“I congratulate Hobby Lobby, a great Oklahoma company, for successfully standing up to the powers that be in Washington and working to protect the freedoms enjoyed by all Americans.”