iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the U.S. government can’t make certain employers cover contraception.
The ruling says businesses with religious objections can opt out of the requirement to cover birth control for women that’s in President Obama’s health care law.
Several high-profile conservatives possibly eyeing a presidential bid in 2016 praised the Supreme Court’s decision as a victory for religious liberty, while also sharply attacking the Obama administration for executive overreach through his signature legislative achievement.
Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is believed to be seriously considering launching a campaign, said the decision affirms the religious freedom of American families.
“What this decision affirms is that the American belief in freedom of religion still protects the rights of all Americans to live in accordance with their religion, and that these deeply held religious beliefs are more important than the whims and demands of government,” Jindal wrote in a statement.
“The Court has made clear today that the Obama administration’s assault on religious freedom in this case went too far — but this assault will not stop, in our courts, in our schools, and in the halls of power. It will take believers who are willing to risk their fortunes and public ridicule and the modern slings and arrows to stand up for what’s right,” he continued.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, another Republican often mentioned as a possible contender for the GOP nomination, said the decision is a “landmark victory for religious liberty,” also taking aim at the White House.
“The decision affirms that Americans, contrary to what the Obama Administration attempted to impose, have a right to live and work in accordance to their conscience and can’t be forced to surrender their religious freedom once they open a business,” he said. “This ruling is a repudiation of the Obama Administration’s untenable position that people with sincerely held religious beliefs should be forced to comply with an unconstitutional mandate while a parade of waivers, exemptions, and delays are granted for purely commercial and political interests.”
Cruz’s statement struck a similar tone to Sen. Rand Paul, another Republican considered by pundits as a likely contender.
“Today, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of religious freedom by taking a stand with Hobby Lobby. Religious liberty will remain intact and all Americans can stay true to their faith without fear of big government intervention or punishment,” Paul, R-Ky., wrote in a statement. “Our nation was founded on the principle of freedom, and with this decision, America will continue to serve as a safe haven for those looking to exercise religious liberty.”
House Speaker John Boehner, who is not considering a presidential run, trumpeted the ruling as “another defeat for an administration that has repeatedly crossed constitutional lines in pursuit of its Big Government objectives” and said his objective continues to be repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.
“The president’s health care law remains an unworkable mess and a drag on our economy,” Boehner, R-Ohio, noted. “We must repeal it and enact better solutions that start with lowering Americans’ health care costs.”
Democrats, meanwhile, are sharply criticizing the Supreme Court for its decision.
Sen. Patty Murray, who joined 18 other Senate Democrats in filing an amicus brief in support of the government’s position in the case, pledged to find a legislative remedy to counter the court’s decision.
“Since the Supreme Court decided it will not protect women’s access to health care, I will. In the coming days I will work with my colleagues and the Administration to protect this access, regardless of who signs your paycheck,” Murray, D-Wash., wrote in a statement. “Every American deserves to have access to high quality health care coverage and each of us should have the right to make our own medical and religious decisions without being dictated to or limited by our employers.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the decision “an outrageous step against the rights of America’s women,” which she believes could set a precedent to allow for-profit corporations “to pick and choose which laws to obey.”
“This deeply misguided and destructive decision is a serious blow to Americans’ ability to make their own health decisions,” Pelosi, D-Calif., wrote. “One of the primary goals of the Affordable Care Act is ending the decades of inequality endured by America’s women forced to settle for less health care at a higher price. Addressing this gender disparity means comprehensive coverage of the full array of women’s health services, period.”
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, credited the Affordable Care Act with opening access to preventive services to “millions of Americans” but warned the ruling could create an economic burden on women.
“This decision takes money out of the pockets of women and their families and allows for-profit employers to deny access to certain health care benefits based on their personal beliefs. Nearly sixty percent of women who use birth control do so for more than just family planning,” Wasserman Shultz, D-Fla., wrote. “It is no surprise that Republicans have sided against women on this issue as they have consistently opposed a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions.”
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