The Free Press, Mankato, MN


July 5, 2014

Hobby Lobby ruling based on existing law

Why it matters: The Supreme Court relied on two pieces of established law. If you don't like the outcome, change the laws.

(The) ruling will mean for-profit companies will be free to impose their beliefs on others.” — Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y.

“Can’t believe … letting big corp(oration)s deny women access to basic care.” — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

“(The) decision is a victory for the First Amendment.” — Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss

“The Supreme Court… (took) a stand with Hobby Lobby.” — Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., urged Congress to pass a law “to fight the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial ruling.”

“…Fight the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial ruling.” “…took a stand with Hobby Lobby.” With all the posturing and hyperbole swirling among lawmakers after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Hobby Lobby’s lawsuit, you’d think we were in the Mideast where factions are jockeying for power.

The outcome should not have been a surprise and judicial pundits predicted it based on one thing — established law.

But first, a quick civics primer.

The Legislative Branch — our elected representatives — enacts laws, the Executive Branch enforces them and the Judicial Branch handles challenges to those laws some of which may require interpretation. Laws, after all, are not made perfectly and the courts use intent to help determine definition of the law.

In the case of Hobby Lobby, the challenge was against a federal mandate that required employers to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives. Specifically the objection was against morning-after and week-after pills which the compnay’s owners deemed to equate abortions.

This was not a case, as some argued, that the firm wanted to deny birth control pills to women. Hobby Lobby said its insurance plans already cover preventive contraceptives and will continue to do so. So “…denying women to basic care” is a little over the top.

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