SCOTUS rules in favor of Hobby Lobby in corporations’ religious rights versus contraceptives case.
Monday morning, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in the Hobby Lobby case that America has been watching closely for months. Justice Samuel Alito, speaking for the majority decision, wrote, “Protecting the free-exercise rights of corporations like Hobby Lobby, Conestoga … protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control those companies.” Joining Alito in the decision were Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, and Anthony Kennedy.
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Steven Breyer dissented. Writing for the minority opinion, Ginsburg stated, “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.”
This ruling will have a broad range of impacts for the foreseeable future. Those who disagree with the Hobby Lobby ruling fear a slippery slope of religious exemptions. Ginsburg noted, “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.”
Similarly, many fear that this stance for religious exemptions can become a grounds for religious discriminations. “For instance, a decision in favor of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga might give for-profit employers a strong legal foundation to raise religious objections to hiring gays and lesbians or to providing the same-sex spouses of employees with the same benefits extended to opposite-sex spouses,” claimed David Masci, researcher of the Pew Research Center.
However, Hobby Lobby supporters are thrilled with the SCOTUS ruling. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared, “Today’s Supreme Court decision makes clear that the Obama administration cannot trample on the religious freedoms that Americans hold dear.” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) agreed, “Americans should not be forced to choose between giving up their business for their faith or giving up their faith for their business. I applaud the Court’s decision today, which simply affirms the fundamental religious freedom that Americans have enjoyed for more than 220 years.”
Another important note is that this ruling is not consistent with the majority of American’s opinions, according to a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The study found that nearly twice as many Americans support the contraceptives mandate. Moreover, the study also asked respondents to weigh in on the Hobby Lobby case, specifically. It found that 55% of Americans believed that the mandate should exist regardless of employers claims to religion compared to the 40% who believe companies should not be forced to offer this coverage.