Florida Delegation Breaks on Party Lines over Hobby Lobby Ruling
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The Florida congressional delegation broke on party lines over the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby which ensured that Hobby Lobby and other closely held businesses do not have to comply with President Barack Obama’s health-care law’s contraception mandate due to religious objections.
The Supreme Court ruled in Hobby Lobby’s favor on a 5-4 decision with Justice Anthony Kennedy joining the conservatives on the court -- Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito -- in ruling with the majority.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016, praised the decision on Monday as a victory for religious freedom and a blow against Obama’s law.
“A key part of the American dream has always been the ability of our people to freely practice their faiths without government interference,” Rubio said on Monday. “Obamacare’s mandates have threatened to change this and, in doing so, erode the American dream as we know it and our people’s ability to live it. The Supreme Court has correctly recognized that Obamacare’s trampling of religious liberty in the Hobby Lobby case should not stand.
“Obamacare was written and passed with a clear disregard for the reality that millions of Americans are inspired by their faiths in all aspects of their lives, including the way entrepreneurs manage their businesses,” Rubio added. “In America, no one should be forced to violate their religious beliefs if they wish to run a business.
“The Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision is a re-affirmation of America’s commitment to religious freedom and a reminder of why Obamacare is such a flawed law that needs to be entirely repealed and replaced,” Rubio concluded.
U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., also cheered the ruling as a win for religious freedom and joined Rubio in calling for a repeal of Obama’s health-care law.
"The president's health-care law goes beyond overreaching,” Ross said on Monday. “The Supreme Court has ruled today that the agency tasked with implementing Obamacare can't coerce family-owned businesses to violate core tenets of their religious faith. It's a shame that the First Amendment's protections for freedom of religion needed to be validated by the Supreme Court. Today's decision was a victory for religious freedom and another example of why Obamacare must be replaced."
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), said the decision would hurt women.
“I am disappointed and deeply concerned by the Supreme Court’s decision today in the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby,” Wasserman Schultz said on Monday after the 5-4 decision was announced. “Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans have gained access to preventive services without out-of-pocket costs, including birth control. However, this decision takes money out of the pockets of women and their families and allows for-profit employers to deny access to certain health care benefits based on their personal beliefs. Nearly 60 percent of women who use birth control do so for more than just family planning.”
Wasserman Schultz stressed the partisan divide over the matter.
“It is no surprise that Republicans have sided against women on this issue as they have consistently opposed a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions,” Wasserman Schultz said. “Republicans have also blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would bring us closer to the promise of equal pay for women. In the wake of this dangerous precedent set by the Supreme Court, Democrats in Congress will continue to fight on the issues of importance to women and their families.”
U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., also denounced the ruling as bad for women.
“Employers belong in the workplace, not in an employee’s doctor's office,” said Frankel. “Personal decisions about contraception should be between a woman and her physician – not a woman and her supervisor. Today’s ruling is a sad step backward for women’s health and individual rights over those of corporate bosses.”
Frankel stressed that the ruling did not impact other matters including benefits for same-sex spouses or mental health coverage.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.