Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court upheld the right of the owners of Hobby Lobby to practice their religion. Hobby Lobby was threatened with millions of dollars of fines if they did not pay for abortions, but the Supreme Court struck down the HHS mandate. This was a victory for religious freedom and we are all thankful that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the rights of the owners of Hobby Lobby.
However, this battle is not over. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said last Tuesday, "The one thing we’re going to do during this work period, sooner rather than later, is to ensure that women’s lives are not determined by virtue of five white men, this Hobby Lobby decision is outrageous, and we’re going to do something about it. People are going to have to walk down here and vote, and if they vote with the five men on the Supreme Court, I think they’re going to be treated unfavorably come November with the elections." Then, Senator Pat Murray (D) of Washington introduced S.B. 2578 to "repeal" Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby Inc.
Please note that the Supreme Court would UPHOLD this law. The Hobby Lobby decision was decided under a 1993 law known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This law was enacted after the Supreme Court decision in Employment Div vs. Smith. In this decision, the court stopped using the compelling interest test for religious freedom cases involving a neutral law of general applicability. Because the Hobby Lobby decision was made based on a federal law and not the first amendment, the US Congress is ALLOWED to change the law to ensure that there is no exemption for Hobby Lobby.
We must fight S.B. 2578 to the very end. While it may be unlikely that five republican senators will vote to allow this bill to go up for a vote in the Senate, we must remember that republicans have voted to allow other bills to go up for a vote. And while we would not expect the House to pass this bill we must watch them carefully. Remember, this is an election year and politicians are often more likely to cave to demands in an attempt to gain more votes.
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