Republicans hail Hobby Lobby decision as religious victory

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Republican lawmakers hailed Monday’s Supreme Court ruling that allows craft retailer Hobby Lobby to reject a federal contraception mandate as a major win for religious freedom.

The 5-4 decision undermines the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that companies offer contraceptive services to workers as part of their insurance coverage, stating companies cannot be compelled to offer their employees birth control if they object to the provisions on religious grounds.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called the decision a “landmark victory.”

“The decision affirms that Americans, contrary to what the Obama Administration attempted to impose, have a right to live and work in accordance to their conscience and can’t be forced to surrender their religious freedom once they open a business,” the Texas junior senator said in a statement.

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“This ruling 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,” he added.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Monday’s ruling means Americans won’t have to worry about “big government intervention and punishment,” for following their religious conscience.

"Our nation was founded on the principle of freedom, and with this decision, America will continue to serve as a safe haven for those looking to exercise religious liberty," he said in a statement. 

Both senators are potential 2016 presidential contenders.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who is facing a tough reelection campaign in November, also praised the Supreme Court for protecting corporations’ religious rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which he voted for in 1993.

“Obamacare is the single worst piece of legislation to pass in the last 50 years, and I was glad to see the Supreme Court agree that this particular Obamacare mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA),” he said in a press release.

The RFRA creates a test that can find religiously neutral laws unconstitutional if they impose religious burdens on people and thus violate their religious freedom under the First Amendment.