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At the Supreme Court: Liberty is affirmed

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Monday, June 30, 2014, 2:45 p.m.
 

The U.S. Supreme Court, ruling 5-4 on Monday, effectively held that Americans do not lose their religious rights when they decide to open a family business.

It's a victory for the Hobby Lobby national chain of crafts stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties of East Earl, Pa. They objected to an ObamaCare provision that forced them to provide certain forms of contraception in contravention of their religious beliefs. Key to the narrowly tailored ruling is that it applies only to “closely held corporations.”

“Our responsibility is to enforce RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) as written, and under the standard that RFRA prescribes, the HHS (Department of Health and Human Services) contraceptive mandate is unlawful,” Associate Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority.

In a second ruling, also 5-4, written by Mr. Justice Alito and narrowly tailored, the court held that in-home care workers in Illinois paid by the state are not similar enough to “government employees” to be compelled to pay union dues. Illinois deemed personal assistants to be “state employees” for only one purpose, Alito wrote — “collective bargaining.”

“If we accept Illinois' argument, we would approve an unprecedented violation of the bedrock principle that ... no person in this country may be compelled to subsidize speech by a third party that he or she does not wish to support,” a clear First Amendment violation, Alito concluded.

How wonderfully apropos it is that the Supreme Court would affirm such sacrosanct precepts just as Americans begin to celebrate their independence.

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