ON-Lion Letter

In late June, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a landmark victory for religious liberty, deciding in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that individuals do not lose their religious freedom when they open a family business.  The Court ruled 5-4 in favor of David and Barbara Green and their family business, Hobby Lobby, ruling that they will not be required to violate their faith by including four potentially life-terminating drugs and devices in the company’s health-insurance plan or pay severe fines.

“This is a landmark decision for religious freedom.  The Supreme Court recognized that Americans do not lose their religious freedom when they run a family business,” said Lori Windham, senior counsel for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty in Washington, D.C., and counsel for Hobby Lobby. 

“This ruling will protect people of all faiths," Windham continue.  "The Court’s reasoning was clear, and it should have been clear to the government.  You can’t argue there are no alternative means when your agency is busy creating alternative means for other people.”

The decision also has important implications for more than 50 pending lawsuits brought by non-profit religious organizations, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, which are also challenging the mandate.  In two different respects, the Court strongly signaled that the mandate may be struck down in those cases too. 

First, it rejected the government’s argument that there was no burden on the Green’s religious exercise because only third parties use the drugs.  Second, it held that the government could simply pay for contraception coverage with its own funds, rather than requiring private employers to do so.

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee substantially supports The Becket Fund.

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