Addicted to torture »« Abuse of government power

US Supreme Court upholds Hobby Lobby’s decision to not provide contraception

It looks like Hobby Lobby has won its case. In a 5-4 decision along the usual lines (Roberts, Thomas, Scalia, Alito, and Kennedy, all of whom are Catholics by the way), the court said that ‘closely held corporations’ (a specific type of for-profit corporation) each owned and controlled by members of a single family cannot be forced to provide contraception coverage for its employees and should be given the same accommodations as the government gave nonprofit organizations.

This was the case where two private, profit-making companies (Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Products) sought to also expand the exemption that had been granted to religious institutions so that they could avoid having the health insurance programs that they offer employees cover contraception. The owners of the companies claimed that they should not have to provide contraceptive coverage if doing so violates their religious beliefs. (I wrote about the significance of this case here and the oral arguments here.)

The majority opinion said that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act or RFRA applies to these corporations and the government had not shown that the contraception mandate is the least restrictive means of advancing its interest in providing birth control. However, it also said that the ruling should not be used as a cloak to hide illegal discrimination under the guise of religion, and that it did not apply to all health insurance mandates such as transfusions or vaccinations.

This seems like a narrow ruling that only applies to a specific issue (birth control) to a narrow class of businesses (closely held corporations) and is going to be debated a lot. But it still represents to my mind yet another example of the kind of undue deference given to religion.

The best place to get the latest and best information is from the live blog at Scotusblog.

You can read the ruling here.

Comments

  1. Chiroptera says

    The majority opinion said that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act or RFRA applies to these corporations….

    So this could (if, theoretically, we had a sane government) fixed by amending or repealing the RFRA?

    -

    …and that it did not apply to all health insurance mandates such as transfusions or vaccinations.

    Why not? Because these things might impact elderly white conservative males?

  2. raven says

    Not too surprised. But very appalled.

    1. What about the religious freedom of HL’s 16,000 employees? Apparently Boss Green’s is more important than 16,000 others.

    2. Boycott Hobby Lobby!!! I have no intention of ever setting foot in a Hobby Lobby.

    Then again this is rather trivial. I’ve never been in one and have no reason to go into one. By all accounts, it is just another Chinamart. Most of their stuff is made in China.

  3. raven says

    This was a political and bad ruling. Typical of the gang of 5 Catholics who control the Supreme court.

    Green had to the option to simply not pay for any employee health insurance. This would just put the HL employees on the ACA exchanges and/or Medicaid.

  4. Glenn says

    The Feudal Rights of the Lords of Employment are upheld.

    The divine right monarchists in the spirit of Federalist John Adams will bury Ben Franklin, Thomas Paine, and T. Jefferson yet.

  5. astrosmash says

    Michael’s and A.C. Moore
    -
    both craft giants that sell pretty much the exact same stuff as Hobby Lobby…Plus they’re on the internets! Order away DeCoupagers!

  6. astrosmash says

    It’s funny too that the Hobby Lobby folks don’t seem to understand that all this ruckus is gonna come back and bite them in the ass…

  7. Mano Singham says

    @#1,

    Yes, repealing RFRA would settle this because the court expressly said that they were not judging this case on First Amendment grounds. Not that they could not fall back on that if RFRA is repealed.

  8. Jockaira says

    There is NO WAY you’re ever gonna get more than a dozen congresscritters to vote to repeal a law called “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” As presently constituted you couldn’t get the Supremes to knock it down for unconstitutionality.

    So we are stuck with this egregious official religious privileging law for at least the next 50 years.

  9. jws1 says

    @10: Ok. Maybe not repeal the original, but gut it with a new one called “Founders Individual Religious Freedom Act.”

  10. Chiroptera says

    jws1, #11:

    lol

    Or call it the Protect the Christians From Their Own Shortsightness Lest the Resulting Backlash Slaps Their Faces So Hard Their Heads Spin Around Act.

  11. says

    You wouldn’t even need to repeal the RFRA. Just add a section to the ADA that said that the RFRA did not apply to that portion.

  12. Glenn says

    For a corporate person to have religious rights, ought not it first be proven that it has a soul and its prospects of going to heaven will be compromised by actions it is compelled to take under law?

  13. Reginald Selkirk says

    However, it also said that the ruling should not be used as a cloak to hide illegal discrimination under the guise of religion, and that it did not apply to all health insurance mandates such as transfusions or vaccinations.

    Yes, they actually wrote that, but their logic is opaque. I see nothing in the chain of reasoning which could not be applied equally as well to those other medical treatments. Except that the five jsutices in the majority are Roman Catholics, not Jehovah’s Witnesses. It appears they take their own religious biases seriously, bot not of other religions.

  14. JustaTech says

    Because people can die without blood transfusions? Because people can die of vaccine-preventable diseases, outbreaks of which can harm the economy?

    Granted, women can die from being pregnant (or other things birth control treats), but they’re women so (apparently) in the eyes of these justices, they don’t count.

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