In our opinion: Supreme Court upholds meaning and purpose to bipartisan law protecting free exercise of religion
The irony is the Obama administration could have avoided this setback if it had simply extended to businesses a system seeking “to respect the religious liberty of religious nonprofit corporations while ensuring that the employees of these entities have precisely the same access to all FDA-approved contraceptives as employees of companies whose owners have no religious objections to providing such coverage.”
The Obama administration, the court said, “provided no reason why the same system cannot be made available when the owners of for-profit corporations have similar religious objections.”
The Hobby Lobby decision establishes that business owners do not forfeit their right to the free exercise of religion when they form a for-profit business and enter into commerce. Just as it is well established that all entities, including businesses, enjoy constitutional rights such as the freedom of speech, it is now clear that a class of family-owned businesses enjoy the protections of religious liberty. (The court side-stepped the question about whether these protections apply to a publicly-traded company.)
Equally significant is the way that the Hobby Lobby decision underscored the role that religion plays in our nation’s public square. Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the majority, but also concurred with these stirring words: “Freedom means that all persons have the right to believe or strive to believe in a divine creator and a divine law. For those who choose this course, free exercise is essential in preserving their own dignity . It means, too, the right to express those beliefs and to establish one’s religious (or nonreligious) self-definition in the political, civic, and economic life of our larger community.”
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