Yesterday the Supreme Court, voting along their usual ideological lines, voted 5-4 in favor of Hobby Lobby. This is wonderful news for religious freedom, but still very far from rolling-back the numerous, unprecedented attacks on it by the current administration.
The good news in the Hobby Lobby decision is that (in at least some circumstances) people do not give up their religious rights simply because they operate a for-profit business. Hobby Lobby is a closely held corporation by a single extended family. The Greens are Protestant Christians who object to abortifacient “contraceptives” (e.g. “Plan B”) in their insurance policies as mandated by Obamacare.
Other cases are not directly effected unless they match the profile of this case. Exactly how closely held a corporation must be or how large it can be before religious freedom rights of its owners evaporate is unclear. Also unclear is how this will effect Catholic owned companies and non-profits who object to paying for any contraception. The Little Sisters of the Poor (for example) might not be helped at all.
As you know, there is little unbiased journalism any more so do not expect to find a completely fair analysis in the mainstream media. The conservative side claims the ruling means more than it does. The liberal side claims the sky is falling with this conservative success in their war on women. For sanity, try not to read what any politician of either side says.
With that disclaimer, Politico has as good coverage as anybody:
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby on Monday that employers with religious objections can opt out of providing contraception coverage under Obamacare.
The ruling deals directly with only a small provision of Obamacare and will not take down the entire law but it amounts to a huge black eye for Obamacare, the administration and its backers. The justices have given Obamacare opponents their most significant political victory against the health care law, reinforcing their argument that the law and President Barack Obama are encroaching on Americans’ freedoms.
“We doubt that the Congress that enacted [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] – or, for that matter, ACA – would 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,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the opinion, which was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy.
The court’s four liberal justices called it a decision of “startling breadth” and said that it allows companies to “opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
The court appeared to reject, 7-2, the Obama administration’s argument that for-profit companies cannot assert religious rights under RFRA. Only Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined the portion of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent that argues companies do not have such rights. Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan did not join that section and did not explicitly state their views on the point.
The decision could open the door to other closely held corporations seeking to withhold coverage for other medical procedures at odds with firm religious beliefs. It marks the first time that the Supreme Court has allowed companies the ability to declare a religious belief – a decision that could reverberate far past the Affordable Care Act to other laws and issues.
In the short term, the ruling appears to allow the owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties to opt out of the health care law’s requirement that they provide all Food and Drug Administration-approved forms of birth control in their health plans.
Read the whole piece: SCOTUS sides with Hobby Lobby on birth control.
To get a sense of (completely unwarranted) panic of the left, The Federalist has collected tweets in 6 Stupid Arguments About Hobby Lobby From Dumb Liberals. Obviously not an unbiased piece, but the tweets are quoted verbatim.