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Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Hobby Lobby In Narrow Decision

HobbyThe U.S. Supreme Court today ruled today that businesses can object on religious grounds to providing contraceptive coverage to its employees as mandated by the Affordable Care Act, The Chicago Tribune reports. The decision came down to a 5-4 vote, with the justices dividing along ideological lines:

In a majority opinion by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, the court said the ruling applies only to the birth control mandate and does not mean companies would necessarily succeed if they made similar claims to other insurance requirements, such as vaccinations and drug transfusions.

In the majority opinion, Alito indicated that employees could still be able to obtain the birth control coverage via an accommodation to the mandate that the Obama administration has already introduced for religious-affiliated nonprofits. The accommodation allows health insurance companies to provide the coverage without the employer being involved in the process.

Under the accommodation, eligible non-profits must provide a "self certification", described by one lower court judge as a "permission slip" authorizing insurance companies to provide the coverage. The accommodation is itself the subject of a separate legal challenge.

As Towleroad contributor Lisa Keen previously pointed out, The Hobby Lobby case is of particular concern from an LGBT perspective because some have believed that a ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby could later be used by employers seeking exemptions on religious grounds from providing health benefits to LGBT employees “such as coverage for the same-sex spouses or partners of employees, reproductive services for lesbian couples, testing and treatment for men at risk of HIV infection, [and] transgender treatment for people with gender dysphoria.” 

Stay tuned for Towleroad legal analyst Ari Ezra Waldman’s in-depth analysis of the Hobby Lobby ruling later today.

You can find previous coverage from Ari on Hobby Lobby and why this ruling matters HERE and HERE

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Comments

  1. The opinion interpreted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and it was not a constitutional issue. The opinion was fairly narrow and went to great lengths to say it was not a broad declaration of religious liberties under the constitution. However, expect more religious business owners to take it to the most illogical extremes. Stay tuned.

    Posted by: Turing's Ghost | Jun 30, 2014 11:30:57 AM


  2. Ugh.

    Posted by: oppressedmalealert | Jun 30, 2014 11:37:29 AM


  3. I am totally not surprised since Robert court is corporation friendly. so Robert court will eradicate anything jeopardizing to corporation and its fortune in expense of rationale.

    Posted by: ppp | Jun 30, 2014 11:41:18 AM


  4. Well, so much for the separation of church and state.

    Posted by: Michael W. | Jun 30, 2014 11:44:56 AM


  5. I believe this bodes badly for the non-profits who are suing about the "accommodation" since Alito specifically calls it out as a viable solution in this case. SCOTUS also fires a shot across the bow to those who think it's open season to claim other religious exemptions. I would have preferred SCOTUS to rule against Hobby Lobby, but it looks like they have done perhaps a better thing - saying small business need to sign the certification that they are against it and the insurance companies will pick up the tab - plus btw, non-profits need to do this also. So, basically, it backfired against those trying to keep birth control out of the hands of women.

    Posted by: Gerry | Jun 30, 2014 11:48:06 AM


  6. BTW, Insurance companies gladly pickup the tab for contraception since it is way cheaper than paying for pregnancy care and the resultant care for children.

    Posted by: Gerry | Jun 30, 2014 11:49:44 AM


  7. This wouldn't be an issue if we had a single payer system.

    Posted by: crispy | Jun 30, 2014 11:54:19 AM


  8. P.S. Everyone should just avoid shopping at Hobby Lobby... there are other stores which sell the same thing that don't try to push their religious beliefs upon others...

    Posted by: Gerry | Jun 30, 2014 12:23:56 PM


  9. Terrible decision. I can't say it any better than Justice Ruth said it:

    "The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would...deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs access to contraceptive coverage."

    "Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community."

    "Any decision to use contraceptives made by a woman covered under Hobby Lobby’s or Conestoga’s plan will not be propelled by the Government, it will be the woman’s autonomous choice, informed by the physician she consults."

    "It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month’s full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage."

    "Would the exemption...extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations[?]...Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today’s decision."

    "Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be 'perceived as favoring one religion over another,' the very 'risk the [Constitution's] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude."

    "The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield."

    Posted by: Hank | Jun 30, 2014 12:43:55 PM


  10. Well, it's nice to know that corporations can have religious beliefs. I can't wait to see when my local Wal-Mart gets baptized and Target has a circumcision.

    Posted by: FuryOfFirestorm | Jun 30, 2014 12:45:10 PM


  11. these assholes have NO PRoblem BUYING 99.9% of thier JUNK from CHINA which has FORCED ABORTIONS tho do they..? Cause - they're FAKE religionists .....they have no problem Profiting off the backs of FORCED Chinese Abortion labor.....BOYCOTT them out of Business.

    Posted by: disgusted american | Jun 30, 2014 12:46:00 PM


  12. Contraception is not generally used for medicinal reasons. It's mainly used to accommodate female promiscuity. The court's decision was a good one.

    Posted by: petey | Jun 30, 2014 3:49:35 PM


  13. POS PETEY strikes again. Brainless as always.

    The Taco Supreme Court represents not the constitution but their own conservative dogma. It would be so nice if they just died already.

    Posted by: Robert | Jun 30, 2014 4:00:44 PM


  14. Don't absolve religious gays from this decision and the militance that is taking place in our country. Religious gays are always first in line to defend religious supremacy and throw minority groups (LGBT, women, atheists) under the bus.

    Posted by: Duration & Convexity | Jun 30, 2014 4:58:57 PM


  15. Religion is evil. Plain and simple. That's how this HORRIBLE decision can be summed up.

    Posted by: Gio | Jun 30, 2014 4:59:22 PM


  16. And then we have Christian gays saying things like "people need to respect my religion, we Christians are martyrs"

    That's why I especially keep my distance from fanatic LGBT Christians. They are often the worst (as they have a point to prove to their religious ilk that they aren't like those other gays)

    Posted by: Kyle C. | Jun 30, 2014 5:00:34 PM


  17. Petey:
    We are talking about "religious freedom" here.
    "female promiscuity" was not in the original complain. Neither was it in the court's decision. The Catholic Church thinks that life begins at conception. They even oppose the use of condoms in Africa for sex between a married woman and her husband. I wonder where you got that from.

    Posted by: simon | Jun 30, 2014 5:25:57 PM


  18. Lunacy. There's an interesting division on the court, and it isn't merely moderate vs conservative.

    Who voted for it? Alito, Roberts, Kennedy, Scalia, Thomas: all Roman Catholic.

    Who voted against? Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan: the three Jewish members. Sotomayor, Roman Catholic, also voted against.

    The makeup of the Court doesn't remotely reflect the makeup of the US. Where are the other religions? Where are the atheists? Non-majority religions have a history of experiencing discrimination, and would be less likely to enable it with a decision like this, as this current split demonstrates.

    The decision was based on Democrat-and-Clinton-passed RFRA.

    RFRA is bad law and must be repealed.

    The idea that a corporation is a "person" is bad law and must be altered by constitutional amendment.

    Posted by: Randy | Jun 30, 2014 5:29:49 PM


  19. Lunacy. There's an interesting division on the court, and it isn't merely moderate vs conservative.

    Who voted for it? Alito, Roberts, Kennedy, Scalia, Thomas: all Roman Catholic.

    Who voted against? Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan: the three Jewish members. Sotomayor, Roman Catholic, also voted against.

    The makeup of the Court doesn't remotely reflect the makeup of the US. Where are the other religions? Where are the atheists? Non-majority religions have a history of experiencing discrimination, and would be less likely to enable it with a decision like this, as this current split demonstrates.

    The decision was based on Democrat-and-Clinton-passed RFRA.

    RFRA is bad law and must be repealed.

    The idea that a corporation is a "person" is bad law and must be altered by constitutional amendment.

    Posted by: Randy | Jun 30, 2014 5:29:51 PM


  20. Those religious belief is based on ignorance and superstition. Contraception in most cases prevents the formation of new lives. They seem to prefer abortion which involves the actual destruction of the embryo.

    Posted by: simon | Jun 30, 2014 6:57:42 PM


  21. @FuryOfFirestorm : just to add to the absurdity, the Supreme Court justices who voted for this nonsense generally go on about the "original intent". At the time the U.S. Constitution was written, corporations did not exist at all. The idea that a legal entity like a corporation could be treated like a person would have raised quite a few eyebrows at the time.

    The idea of a corporation was parodied in Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta Utopia Limited. The story was about the monarch of a small country. The country's constitution made the king an absolute despot, but with one exception. He was to be advised by two wise men, and if the wise men agreed on some sort of action, a person holding the position of Public Exploder would be charged with blowing up the king. As it turns out, the two wise men were actually two wise guys and made the king (using the threat of being blown to pieces) published a scandalous rag named "The Palace Peeper," which frabricated scandalous stories about the king. So the king gets some help from British advisors, who come up with a scheme in which every person, including the king, incorporates. When the king cracks down on the Palace Peeper, the wise guys find out that while they can blow up the king, they must do that to the corporation, not to its its sole employee.

    It ends with the upper class complaining that their income has disappeared. The advisors think for a minute, first saying that this shouldn't happen, and then tell them, "you need a two party system. Then one party undoes what the other one does and there is plenty of work for everyone."

    Gilbert thought the idea of a corporation sounded crazy, so he liked to ridicule it. It seemed to let people do whatever they wanted with impunity as long as the actions could be attributed to the corporation, not to them. Gilbert just wasn't comfortable with that.

    Posted by: Bill | Jun 30, 2014 11:29:06 PM


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