Court Strikes Limited Blow Against Contraception Mandate

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNN) - The Supreme Court ruled Monday that closely held companies cannot be required to pay to cover some types of contraceptives for their employees, ending its term with a narrow legal and political setback for a controversial part of President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law.

The owners of Hobby Lobby, furniture maker Conestoga Wood Specialties and Christian bookseller Mardel argued that the Affordable Care Act violates the First Amendment and other federal laws protecting religious freedom because it requires them to provide coverage for contraceptives like the "morning-after pill," which the companies consider tantamount to abortion.

The decision, which comes two years after the justices narrowly preserved the Affordable Care Act and its key funding provision, could serve as a primer for other pending challenges to the health law.

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U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling:

WASHINGTON, D.C. (News release) - “This nation was founded on the right to freely practice one’s religious convictions. Americans shouldn’t have to abandon those protections simply because they own a business. And yet, that is exactly what the Obama Administration tried to force on businesses like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga under this mandate. Thankfully, the Justices thought otherwise and preserved the right for business owners to object to overbearing government mandates that would violate their religious beliefs,” Boozman said. 

Boozman, a strong opponent of Obamacare, has long argued that the Obama Administration overstepped its authority by trying to force employers with religious objections to comply with a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate that runs counter to their beliefs.  

In October 2011, Boozman joined 27 other Senators in asking HHS to redraft the Required Health Plan Coverage Guidelines for Women's Preventative Service to make them consistent with the principles of respect for human life, individual liberties, and personal conscience. 

On February 8, 2012, Boozman requested HHS take immediate action to reverse that decision. Additionally, he cosponsored S. 1467, the "Respect for Human Rights of Conscience Act," and S. 2043, the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act," in the 112th Congress, which would have protected freedom of conscience and prohibited the government from imposing mandates on religious employers. 

Earlier this year, Boozman and U.S. Representative Randy Forbes (R-VA) authored a joint op-ed in the National Review that argued the HHS mandate violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

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