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July 2, 2014

Group protests Supreme Court ruling

CLAREMORE — An Edmond attorney who represented several members of Congress in Hobby Lobby’s challenge of the Obamacare contraception mandate said the Supreme Court ruled narrowly and correctly.

U.S. Supreme Court justices ruled Monday the federal contraceptive mandate under the Affordable Care Act violates The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of David and Barbara Green and their family businesses, Hobby Lobby and Mardel, declaring they will not be required to violate their faith by including four potentially life-terminating drugs and devices in the company’s health insurance plan or face severe fines from the government.

Justice Samuel Alito delivered the 95-page opinion in which Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Anthony Kennedy and Justice Clarence Thomas joined. Kennedy filed a concurring opinion.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg filed a dissenting opinion in which Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined, and in which Justice Stephen Breyer and Justice Elena Kagan joined as to all but Part III-C-1. Breyer and Kagan filed a dissenting opinion.

Andy Lester, a founding member of Lester, Loving & Davies in Edmond, represented several members of Congress in both the Senate, including Sen. James Inhofe, R-Tulsa, and the House when the case was at the Tenth Circuit level last year.

“What we were arguing was not too far off from what the Supreme Court ultimately held, and that’s that the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act does apply to a corporation such as Hobby Lobby,” Lester said.  

Under the law, a coporation that has a sincerely held religious belief is protected, Lester said. The law was written to not just protect corporations but people and their corporations as well, Lester said.

Lester said The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was authored by conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, people with various religious beliefs, and passed by Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support.

On March 25, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, formerly Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby. Lester said a lawyer likes to see a court decide a case on narrow grounds; too often they’re decided on political ideals or a broad basis that really isn’t connected to the facts in this case.

“In this case, I think the court did its job really well,” Lester said, noting the justices considered relevant questions. “That’s what a court is supposed to do.”

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