Hill reacts to Hobby Lobby ruling
By: Paige Winfield Cunningham and Seung Min Kim
June 30, 2014 11:29 AM EDT
The Supreme Court’s ruling that employers with religious objections don’t have to comply with Obamacare requirements to provide contraception coverage sparked swift reaction on Capitol Hill.
The Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision deepened partisan division in Congress over the government’s role in health care with Republicans praising the ruling for protecting religious freedom and Democrats panning it for intruding into women’s health care decisions.
“The Obama administration cannot trample on the religious freedoms that Americans hold dear,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement.
The Kentucky Republican also took the opportunity to deride Obamacare as “the single worst piece of legislation to pass in the last 50 years.”
House Speaker John Boehner said the decision is “another defeat for an administration that has repeatedly crossed constitutional lines in pursuit of its big government objectives.”
Democrats, meanwhile, were defiant. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that “if the Supreme Court will not protect women’s access to health care, then Democrats will.”
“We will continue to fight to preserve women’s access to contraceptive coverage and keep bosses out of the examination room.”
A Reid spokesman declined to elaborate on specifics of a potential legislative response to the Supreme Court decision.
South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the chamber’s No. 3 Republican, called the decision “a victory for religious freedom.”
“Religious freedom is one of our most basic principles and the very first right mentioned in the Bill of Rights,” Thune said. I am pleased that the Supreme Court has rejected the Obama administration’s attempt to limit this most fundamental of American liberties.”
House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton and Rep. Joe Pitts, health subcommittee chairman, also said they’re pleased by the ruling.
“‘Fines on faith’ are against the American way, and we are pleased today that the Supreme Court has protected this right and also protected the thousands of jobs threatened by the HHS mandate,” they said in a joint statement.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a potential 2016 GOP presidential nominee, said the decision is “a repudiation of the Obama administration’s untenable position that people with sincerely held religious beliefs should be forced to comply with an unconstitutional mandate while a parade of waivers, exemptions, and delays are granted for purely commercial and political interests.”
Congressional Democrats largely responded with anger at the high court’s decision, arguing that the religious views of a woman’s employer should play no role in whether she can get access to contraception.
“A woman’s personal health decisions about choosing to use contraception and when to start a family should stay strictly between her and her doctor — not her boss,” said Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), who is running for reelection this year. “The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision unacceptably takes these choices out of doctors’ offices and into the workplace,”
“Your boss does not belong in your bedroom or your exam room. Disappointed in #SCOTUS decision. #NotMyBossBusiness,” tweeted Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), another Democratic senator up for reelection this year.