By: Paul Barton
Congressional Republicans from Tennessee celebrated a Supreme Court ruling Monday that privately held companies can deny health insurance coverage for contraception methods that violate their owners' religious beliefs.
The case involved Hobby Lobby, an arts-and-crafts chain which says it is run on biblical principles, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, which makes wood cabinets. It was widely seen as a blow to the Affordable Care Act, the health insurance reform law that President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010.
"The Supreme Court's decision today makes clear that the government cannot force Americans to defy the basic tenets of their faith simply because they own a business," said Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander.
"I am glad the Supreme Court has preserved our Constitution's protections of religious freedom from another overreach by the Obama administration."
Alexander was one of 88 members of Congress who filed a joint friend-of-the court brief on behalf of Hobby Lobby.
But one of the delegation's two Democrats, Rep. Jim Cooper of Nashville, was critical of the ruling.
"Corporations shouldn't make people's personal health decisions," Cooper said. "The Supreme Court erred when it said corporations are people. Now those so-called people are free to intrude on employees' privacy and health decisions."
Other comments from Republicans in Congress from Tennessee:
* Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Jasper: "No individual or organization should ever be forced to choose between violating their own personal religious beliefs and fulfilling a government mandate. I applaud today's Supreme Court ruling, which reaffirms our constitutionally protected religious freedoms."
* Rep. Diane Black of Gallatin: "Today the Supreme Court sided with our constitutional rights and stood up to the Obama administration's assault on religious liberty. Being an American has always meant being able to freely choose our faith and live by the dictates of that faith at home, at church and in the public square."
* Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood: "With this ruling, I am relieved that the Supreme Court has somewhat blunted the President's endless assault on our individual freedoms and liberties. Barack Obama and his administration need to remember that he was elected president, not king; and that people should be able to practice their faith without fear of big government trampling on the Judeo-Christian values upon which our great nation was founded."
* Rep. Stephen Fincher of Frog Jump: "Today's landmark decision upholds one of our nation's most deeply held constitutional freedoms "" the fundamental First Amendment right to practice our religious beliefs. No Tennessean should be forced to act against their personal religious beliefs in order to adhere to a government mandate."
* Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Ooltewah: "Today's ruling is a huge victory for religious liberties and the protection of the unborn, and yet another halt to Obama's overreaching power. Our nation was founded on the core value of religious freedom, and Obamacare's contraceptive mandate is a violation of this most fundamental liberty."