BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – HONOLULU — Several U.S. Senate Democrats are fast-tracking a bill, the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act, they say will counter the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision.
Those senators include Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Mark Udall, D-Colo.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 June 30 in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that individuals do not lose their religious freedom when they open a family business.
The case was significant because this is the first time the high court ruled that under federal law, closely held private businesses may hold religious views.
Barbara Green, co-founder of Hobby Lobby, said the nation’s highest court reaffirmed the vital importance of religious liberty as one of the country’s founding principles — a victory not just for her family business, but for all who seek to live out their faith.
The high court upheld a June 2013 ruling by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals that protected Hobby Lobby and the Green family from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring them to provide some birth-control drugs and devices in the company’s health insurance plan.
The Greens maintained the requirement was a violation of their religious beliefs and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Schatz, like many liberal women’s groups and Democrats, has argued corporations aren’t people and should not be given constitutional rights. Schatz maintains the Supreme Court has now “opened the door to a wide range of discrimination and denial of services.”
Nicknamed by Democrats the “Not My Boss’s Business Act,” Schatz said the legislation would allow Congress to begin fixing the “damage done by the Supreme Court’s decision.”
Murray said she hopes Republicans will join Democrats to “revoke this court-issued license to discriminate and return the right of Americans to make their own decision about their own health care and their own bodies.”
However, Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, have supported of the ruling, calling it is a victory for religious freedom.
The Wall Street Journal reports that 15 Senate and House Republicans filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the ruling.
Reach Malia Zimmerman at Malia@hawaiireporter.com