Bill To Undo Hobby Lobby Ruling Fails In Senate; May Come Back From Dead Later This Year

Last week, Senator Patty Murray of Washington introduced legislation that would have undone the recent Supreme Court Hobby Lobby ruling, in which the nation’s highest court found that closely held private corporations can exempt themselves from a federal law requiring them to provide health insurance that covers female contraception. Yesterday, the bill fell four votes short of moving forward, but it’s supporters are pledging to bring it up for another vote later in the year.

The bill, known as the Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act (and dubbed the “Not My Boss’s Business Act” by Sen. Murray, would have effectively exempted the Affordable Care Act from the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was intended to prevent individuals from having their exercise of religion substantially burdened by federal laws.

In the Hobby Lobby case, lawyers for the devoutly religious owners of the hobby shop chain argued that the RFRA should also apply to closely held private businesses. A divided SCOTUS agreed, meaning Hobby Lobby and other companies can now claim a religious exemption from the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

Murray’s legislation would have kept intact the ACA’s existing exemptions for places of worship and religious non-profits, but would have clarified that the RFRA does not exempt businesses, regardless of an owner’s religious belief.

Yesterday, the Senate took a procedural cloture vote in an attempt to move the bill forward and preempt a filibuster from those opposing the legislation. In order to succeed, it would have needed 60 votes from supporters. And even though three Senate Republicans did vote against party lines and come out in favor of the bill, it still only managed to garner 56 votes.

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid was the only Democrat to vote against the bill, but only so he can bring the matter back to the Senate floor at a later date, which he says he intends to do.

Even if the bill were to eventually pass the Senate, its ultimate fate in the House is a near-certainty. According to GovTrack, a similar version of this legislation introduced in Congress last week stands a 0% chance of being enacted, and is unlikely to even make it out of committee.

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  1. pguyton2 says:

    correct me if i’m wrong but this was a constitutional ruling – adding more un-constitutional laws changes nothing, the only way to “fix” it is to amend the constitution.

    • DrTardis78 says:

      It is a bit of a misnomer. SCOTUS can rule on a case but in many cases they either give guidelines to how the legislative branch can pass a bill that will be within the scope of what SCOTUS ruled on. In other cases a law may be to vague or not touch upon something that is under question. Take Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. where the court ruled that because Lilly Ledbetter did not report her discrimination within 180 days charging period she was SOL. Congress then passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that expand the 180 claim.

      That is one of many cases where SCOTUS ruled one way and Congress came back and created a law to “fix” the Courts decision. At the same time, there are plenty of other cases were congress has its hands tied because of what the Court ruled.

  2. furiousd says:

    Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference…? I’m sure there are many bosses that loiter around the local CVS to make sure that their employees can’t go in and buy their own birth control. I’m still baffled as to the expectation that a business should be forced to provide healthcare for their employees rather than being able to choose to offer it as a perk. No access to healthcare is being denied anyone, the ruling simply prevented one type of forcing a company’s owners from paying for a class of medications they didn’t want to. A far better way of handling this would be to pass a law banning extortion of the funds of a privately-held business in the guise of free healthcare. If the government wants to make a law that all government employees will have healthcare provided at no cost, fine and dandy. See how many people flock to government jobs, but stepping back and tackling a more confusing issue that people seem to have accepted would completely bypass these nitpicky patches for the problems created by the bigger issue.