Supreme Court’s Birth Control Decision Redefines ‘Religious Freedom’

Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in a 5-4 decision, that for-profit companies like Hobby Lobby can opt out of the requirement that employers include coverage for birth control in their employee health insurance plans. We just sent out the following press release criticizing this reckless decision.


Allowing Employers to Impose Their Religious Beliefs on Women Turns ‘Religious Freedom’ on Its Head

June 30, 2014

Today’s Supreme Court decision allowing for-profit companies like Hobby Lobby Inc. to opt out of a requirement that employers include coverage for birth control in employee health insurance plans redefines religious freedom, Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said today.

“This decision turns the concept of religious freedom on its head,” Miller said. “Saying that employers may impose their religious beliefs on the deeply personal decisions their workers make fundamentally redefines religious freedom. In effect, this radical view holds a woman’s personal decisions about whether and when to have children hostage to the religious dictates of her employer.”

Miller noted that support for access to birth control, including through employer-provided health insurance plans, is strong in Texas. A February 2013 poll sponsored by the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund found that 56 percent of registered voters in Texas opposed allowing employers to deny their workers health insurance coverage for birth control. The poll, conducted jointly by the national polling firms of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (Democratic firm) and Chesapeake Beach Consulting (Republican firm), is available here.

The Rev. Amelia Fulbright, campus minister for Labyrinth Progressive Student Ministry at the University of Texas at Austin, is one of more than 370 clergy from across Texas who have signed on to an open letter supporting policies that ensure access to birth control according to one’s own conscience or religious beliefs and regardless of income level. The clergy letter is available here.

“All of us must have the right to decide for ourselves, based on our own conscience and religious beliefs, whether to use birth control,” Rev. Fulbright said. “To give an employer a veto over that decision by denying insurance coverage for birth control undermines freedom rather than protects it. That would be especially dangerous here since birth control can be an essential part of women’s health care.”

Today’s Supreme Court rulings came in two cases: Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius.


The Texas Freedom Network is an Austin-based religious liberties watchdog. The grassroots, nonpartisan organization of religious and community leaders supports religious freedom, individual liberties and public education.

9 thoughts on “Supreme Court’s Birth Control Decision Redefines ‘Religious Freedom’

  1. TFN’s commentary on the Hobby Lobby ruling is spot on. This ruling is a serious defeat for religious freedom and rights of conscience. We should note that the five justices in the majority were all appointed by Republican presidents known for their disdain for religious freedom and church-state separation. — Edd Doerr, President, Americans for Religious Liberty (

  2. Dan. Do you have an e-mail address for Hobby Lobby? I would like to write to them and tell them that I will no longer be doing any business with their company.

  3. This is outrageous. Has the SC defined what constitutes a “religion”? Can I invent a religion based on whatever my beliefs are and if I am an employer, can I arbitrarily decide what sort of medical care my employees will be eligible for based on the dictates of the religion I have invented? Hmmm….I hate leaf-blowers just as much as Hobby Lobby hates IUDs. So if my religion states using a leaf-blower is a sin, can I stipulate that any employee injured from using a leaf-blower will not be covered by company health policy?

  4. And another hypothetical…if my “religion” contends that giving birth to more than two children is a sin, then can my company’s health insurance refuse to provide OB/GYN coverage for a woman with a third pregnancy?

  5. So will companies owned by Christianian Scientists now offer no medical coverage? Maybe some companies owend by Chineese nationals will cover only tradational Chinese practices, not Western medicine?

  6. We’ll be hearing a lot more about the Green family and their proselytizing. Green authored a “Bible as literature” or some such, as an elective course for high schools. Reportedly, it’s been adopted by the Mustang School District in Oklahoma. A review of the course materials by an SMU prof panned it as totally unsuitable. Read that “totally sueable.”

    Shades of Permian High School!

    The Green’s are also building a “museum of the Bible” in Washington, D.C., a $70 million enterprise dedicated in their words:

    “To bring to life the living word of God, to tell its compelling story of preservation, and to inspire confidence in the absolute authority and reliability of the bible.”

  7. This outrageous, hypocritical, and unprecedented decision is just another in a series of theological-political 5-4 decisions by our right-wing reactionary activist Supreme Court that uses its power to force an extreme fundamentalist religious authoritarianism on ordinary citizens who just want to live their lives without intrusive right-wing government control. This unspeakable decision predictabity increases the power of for-profit corporations over the most private and personal parts of female employees’ lives and insults the Constitution by claiming its purpose promotes religious liberty. How reprehensible the right-wing majority on the SC has become.