ICC Note: The extent of religious freedom protections in the United States has regularly been debated since before the founding of the nation, but this week’s Supreme Court ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby and other businesses seeking to be exempted on the basis of faith from providing certain forms of contraception has brought the debate to the front and center of public attention. Across the United States many groups, especially over the past few decades, have been extremely active in attempting to completely remove the role of faith from the public sphere in any form, from cross memorials on government property to any references to faith in the the public education system. Home Bible studies have been fined in California and Florida, Christian college professors have been refused promotions, and local governments have been sued for allowing prayers at city council meetings. The Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision is an all too rare vote in favor of providing protection for religious values among closely held companies in the United States.
By Kristina Peterson
6/30/2014 United States (WSJ) – Monday’s Supreme Court decision enabling some private companies to opt out of the federal health law’s contraception coverage requirements ignited partisan dueling over not just the 2010 health-care law but over a 1993 religious-freedom law cited in the decision.
The high court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case refocused attention on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that passed Congress overwhelmingly in 1993, with the support of some lawmakers still serving in both the House and Senate. The statute requires federal laws to accommodate individuals’ religious beliefs unless there is a compelling interest at stake that can’t be attained through other means.
While Republicans on Monday triumphantly pointed to the law’s role in the decision, Democrats said they hadn’t anticipated the law would be so broadly expanded.