Yesterday the United States Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby and other closely held corporations are not required to provide cost-free contraception under mandate of the Affordable Care Act. The 5-4 decision was certainly controversial, with many conservatives lauding the decision as a victory for religious freedom and many liberals deriding the decision as a blow to women's rights. However, as reported by Business Insider, when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was asked about the decision this morning he refused to give an opinion.
When asked for his thoughts about the Hobby Lobby decision on CNBC's "Squawk Box" this morning Christie blandly said "Who knows?" Christie went on to claim that as an executive he should not really be concerned with what the Supreme Court decides,
The fact is that when you're an executive, your Supreme Court makes a ruling and you've got to live with it unless you can get the legislative body to change the law or change the Constitution. The point is: Why should I give an opinion as to whether they were right or wrong? At the end of the day, they did what they did. That's now the law of the land."
While it is true that an executive cannot overrule a Supreme Court decision directly, a president does have the power to appoint new Supreme Court justices when a vacancy opens up. Indeed, the five justices who ruled for Hobby Lobby were all appointed by either Reagan, George H.W. Bush, or George W. Bush. The four justices who ruled against Hobby Lobby were all appointed by Clinton or Obama.
Christie is seen as one of the favorites to win the Republican Party nomination for president in 2016. Should he win the presidency, Christie could have the power to effectively reverse the Hobby Lobby decision should he replace one of the five in the majority with a justice who was less friendly to Hobby Lobby's argument.
In reality, Christie's dodge of the question may be a signal that he is, in fact, running in 2016. If Christie had criticized the decision he would risk angering the conservative base, which he ultimately needs to win the Republican Party nomination. If Christie had approved of the decision he would risk angering independent women voters, who he will ultimately need to win the general election.