Skip to comments.5 Major Takeaways From The Hobby Lobby Decision
Posted on 06/30/2014 4:15:52 PM PDT by NYer
The Supreme Court this morning issued its ruling in the Hobby Lobby case. At issue was whether closely held companies like Hobby Lobby could be forced by the government to provide abortifacient coverage to its employees, in defiance of its owners’ deeply held religious beliefs.
In a 5-4 ruling written by Justice Samuel Alito, the Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby and other closely held companies do not have to provide contraceptive coverage that conflicts with the religious beliefs of the companies’ owners. Here are 5 major takeaways from the Supreme Court’s decision.
1) The government must provide religious accommodations to for-profit companies
Corporations aren’t people, but they are owned by people, and the religious beliefs of those people must be protected regardless of how those people choose to incorporate their businesses. The court ruled today that the accommodations provided to non-profit religious organizations by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act also apply to for-profit companies.
“[W]e hold that a federal regulations restriction on the activities of a for-profit closely held corporation must comply with [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” Alito wrote in the majority decision.
It’s a big win for religious liberty and against the belief that your faith no longer matters once you decide to open a business.
2) The decision only applies to “closely held” companies, not all corporations
Although the decision represents a complete victory for Hobby Lobby and the other plaintiffs in the case, it does not recognize a carte blanche right for all for-profit corporations. Alito’s opinion only recognizes the right of “closely held” companies to operate in accordance with their owners’ religious values.
A massive, publicly held corporation that trades on the stock market and is overwhelmingly owned by hedge funds, retirement plans, university endowments, and retail investors would likely not be granted the same protections by the Supreme Court:
For example, the idea that unrelated shareholdersincluding institutional investors with their own set of stakeholderswould agree to run a corporation under the same religious beliefs seems improbable. In any event, we have no occasion in these cases to consider RFRAs applicability to such companies. The companies in the cases before us are closely held corporations, each owned and controlled by members of a single family, and no one has disputed the sincerity of their religious beliefs.
3) The decision only applies to the contraceptive mandate, not to other government mandates like vaccinations
One of the concerns raised by several liberal justices during oral arguments was that if Hobby Lobby could get a religious exemption from the contraceptive mandate, then what would stop a company from demanding an exemption from a vaccination mandate? Or from a mandate prohibiting discrimination?
Alito and the other four concurring justices made short work of that argument. According to the Supreme Court:
This decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to hold that all insurance-coverage mandates, e.g., for vaccinations or blood transfusions, must necessarily fall if they conflict with an employers religious beliefs. Nor does it provide a shield for employers who might cloak illegal discrimination as a religious practice.
4) The Obama administration could have used other, less restrictive ways to provide contraceptive coverage
One of the main reasons the Obama administration’s arguments failed to convince five justices is that the federal government did not necessarily need to mandate employer-provided contraceptive coverage in order to ensure access to contraceptive coverage. For example, rather than mandating employer coverage, the government could have easily established its own program to provide or pay for contraceptive coverage:
In fact, HHS has already devised and implemented a system that seeks to respect the religious liberty of religious nonprofit corporations while ensuring that the employees of these entities have precisely the same access to all FDA-approved contraceptives as employees of companies whose owners have no religious objections to providing such coverage. The employees of these religious nonprofit corporations still have access to insurance coverage without cost sharing for all FDA-approved contraceptives; and according to HHS, this system imposes no net economic burden on the insurance companies that are required to provide or secure the coverage.
Although HHS has made this system available to religious nonprofits that have religious objections to the contraceptive mandate, HHS has provided no reason why the same system cannot be made available when the owners of for-profit corporations have similar religious objections. We therefore conclude that this system constitutes an alternative that achieves all of the Governments aims while providing greater respect for religious liberty. And under RFRA, that conclusion means that enforcement of the HHS contraceptive mandate against the objecting parties in these cases is unlawful.
5) Dropping coverage altogether to avoid the mandate was not a viable option for Hobby Lobby
One ridiculous argument offered during oral arguments by Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor was that the religious owners of the companies could just drop coverage altogether, thereby entirely avoiding the contraceptive mandate. Sure, there would be a hefty tax, but that’s too bad. Sometimes you just have to pay taxes.
That reasoning was roundly rejected by the five-person Supreme Court majority. Why? Because the Hobby Lobby owners noted that they also felt compelled by their religious beliefs to provide health insurance to their employees — including coverage for 16 different types of contraception (Hobby Lobby’s objection was to mandated abortifacient coverage). Therefore, the solution proposed by Kagan and Sotomayor was no solution at all:
In sum, we refuse to sustain the challenged regulations on the groundnever maintained by the Governmentthat dropping insurance coverage eliminates the substantial burden that the HHS mandate imposes. We doubt that the Congress that enacted RFRAor, for that matter,ACAwould have believed it a tolerable result to put family-run businesses to the choice of violating their sincerely held religious beliefs or making all of their employees lose their existing healthcare plans.
This is an important distinction which the mainstream media is not addressing. Ping!
Notice the excerpted comment above. This is an important distinction which is being ignored by the mainstream media.
Hardly anything reported about this case in the MSM is correct. Betcha hardly any of them know the opinion is based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed by Congress, not the First Amendment.
**One of the main reasons the Obama administrations arguments failed to convince five justices is that the federal government did not necessarily need to mandate employer-provided contraceptive coverage in order to ensure access to contraceptive coverage. For example, rather than mandating employer coverage, the government could have easily established its own program to provide or pay for contraceptive coverage:**
And it may happen that the government will pay for such contraceptive coverage......guess whose pocket that comes out of?
Thanks, Justice Roberts, for creating this mess.
This decision was actually a near total loss for conservatives.
Many of us were pretty dismissive of the Court’s prior ruling because we recognized that there were far more solid legal grounds for mounting a challenge to ObamaCare (the First Amendment arguments in this case, for example) than the prior case that had been brought before the court. Today’s decision supports my earlier contention about the prior case.
And maybe it is, if people keep depending on humans.
I’m not sure how you’d make that case, but I’m happy to see what you mean by it.
The Hobby Lobby owners seem to be nice, decent people. God bless them.
In the very BEST of manmade efforts at morality, stands the possibility of it going completely south.
I don’t think this is any new observation.
In terms of power, Demons > Man.
However also, God > Demons.
The answer is quit hoping in man and start looking to God to take advantage of WHATEVER situation you get. I believe it is quite clear that something of God showed through this one. Let’s not let that ball just sit there. Let’s ask the Lord how to run with it.
One of the holes would seem, in the opinion of this non-professional observer, to be that people will not be treated equally under this (tax) law.
Yes, Justice Roberts created a mess.
I would call this barely a win. Basically, a company that provided contraceptives didn’t have to provide a few abortifacients. While at the same time the oligarchs deemed that those with other medical religious objections wouldn’t necessarily be protected. So in effect they decided that there is politically correct religious objection, and politically incorrect religious objection.
all that plus ... the ruling actually suggested how the feds get around this ... by providing abortion drug coverage themselves. The fact that the Supreme Court has no problem with the federal government confiscating taxes, buying abortion drugs and handing them out is problematic to me to say the least
People are already not treated equally under this (tax) law. That was one of the factors Alito cited in his opinion: he pointed out that it’s ludicrous for the HHS to argue the case on “equal protection” grounds in this case when they’ve already granted ObamaCare waivers to millions of Americans.
My sense is that there are quite a few upstanding, moral business owners out there who didn’t much care how the court ruled in this case because they had no intention of abiding by any stupid ObamaCare mandates anyway.
And that’s very fine, but ultimately man’s efforts alone to keep up some sort of good morality are going to fail.
Yep. So instead of discussing law, they’re now offering roadmaps to get around even their tepid decisions?
I found it particularly galling that they’re willing to pick religious winners and losers. So a company whose owners have a sincere belief that it shouldn’t provide abortifacients are protected, but a company that has a sincere belief that transfusions shouldn’t be provided (e.g. Jehovah’s witnesses) would not be.
To steal a phrase from Orwell; all religions are equal, but some are more equal than others.
My guess: JWs only apply the no transfusion rule to themselves. Everyone else is already a lost heathen to them, so they don’t care.
I find this kind of troubling. Is the court now saying that it decides what some religious beliefs are protected while others aren't? Some religious sects are opposed to vaccinations. Some are opposed to blood transfusions. If a member of those sects own a company are they forced to provide insurance services that violate their beliefs until they sue, take the case to the Supreme Court, and win?
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