Several high-profile Republicans possibly eyeing a presidential bid in 2016 praised the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby as a victory for religious liberty while also sharply attacking the Obama administration for executive overreach through his signature legislative achievement.
In an extremely contentious case splitting advocates of religious liberty against women’s rights groups, the Supreme Court ruled today that for-profit corporations with sincerely held religious beliefs are not required to provide a full range of contraceptives free of cost to employees pursuant to the Affordable Care Act.
Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is believed to be considering a campaign for president, said that while he believes the court’s decision affirms religious freedom of American families, “believers” will have to find courage to “stand up for what’s right” as the legal and legislative battle plays out in the coming months and years.
“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.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, another contender for the Republican nomination, said the decision reminded him “why Obamacare is such a flawed law that needs to be entirely repealed and replaced.”
“Obamacare was written and passed with a clear disregard for the reality that millions of Americans are inspired by their faiths in all aspects of their lives, including the way entrepreneurs manage their businesses,” Rubio, R-Fla., wrote. “In America, no one should be forced to violate their religious beliefs if they wish to run a business.”
House Speaker John Boehner also said his objective continues to be repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
“The president’s health care law remains an unworkable mess and a drag on our economy,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “We must repeal it and enact better solutions that start with lowering Americans’ health care costs.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, another Republican often mentioned as a possible candidate in 2016, called the decision is a “landmark victory for religious liberty,” while also condemning the White House for taking executive actions to alter the health care law.
“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.
Cruz’s statement struck a similar tone to Sen. Rand Paul, another Republican considered by pundits as a likely contender.
“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.
Democrats, meanwhile, harshly criticized the Supreme Court for its ruling today.
“This deeply misguided and destructive decision is a serious blow to Americans’ ability to make their own health decisions,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wrote.
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,” Murray, D-Wash., said in a statement. “In the coming days I will work with my colleagues and the administration to protect this access, regardless of who signs your paycheck.”
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, joined with Sandra Fluke, a candidate for California State Senate who gained fame when she was denied the opportunity to testify at a 2012 hearing on the Affordable Care Act’s required inclusion of contraception coverage in health plans. Today, the duo called on Congress to take action “to ensure that women employed by these corporations continue to have affordable access to reproductive healthcare.”
“While we firmly believe that every American should have the ability to practice his or her own faith, we cannot ignore the interests and the health of our nation’s women,” Cummings and Fluke wrote. “The pill and other contraceptives have had a profound impact on the well-being of women, giving them the capacity to make the best decisions about very personal matters for themselves and their families — and today’s decision puts the well-being of many women in jeopardy.”