Updated, part 2: SCOTUS issues Hobby Lobby ruling

Today, the Supreme Court issued its ruling on the case brought against the contraception mandate in the new Affordable Care Act.

Written by Samuel Alito, the Court decided in a 5-4 decision that closely held corporations owned by religious people do not have to provide contraception they disagree with.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Kennedy expanded the thinking of the majority to explain that the ruling is limited to contraception only–it does not extend to other medical procedures that would conceivably be religiously objectionable, such as blood transfusions or organ donation.

Check out the SCOTUS blog for excellent ongoing coverage.


Here’s the ruling in its entirety:

The most important paragraphs, according to Buzzfeed’s Chris Geidner, are these:

For all these reasons, we hold that a federal regulation’s restriction on the activities of a for-profit closely held corporation must comply with RFRA.30


Because RFRA applies in these cases, we must next ask whether the HHS contraceptive mandate “substantially burden[s]” the exercise of religion. 42 U. S. C. §2000bb– 1(a). We have little trouble concluding that it does.


The dissent in the case, which was written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, begins at page 61 and can be found here.

The court basically split along ideological lines, and Justices Breyer, Kagan, Sotomayor all sided with her.

In her dissent, she basically argues that corporations do not have religion, ergo, they are not entitled to the protections of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was intended to protect the freedoms of religion for those who exercise it.

She also points out that the separation between religious communities and for-profit businesses has been around since the beginning of jurisprudence–collapsing it now would be a really questionable decision.

Religious organiza- tions 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. Indeed, by law, no religion-based criterion can restrict the

work force of for-profit corporations. …The distinction between a community made up of believers in the same religion and one embracing persons of diverse beliefs, clear as it is, constantly escapes the Court’s attention. One can only wonder why the Court shuts this key difference from sight.

In other words, Justice Ginsberg very much disagrees with the other justices.

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