The Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 that Hobby Lobby may object on religious grounds to the provision of Obamacare that mandates providing health insurance that covers birth control.
Previously the Obama administration had provided exemptions for religious non-profits, but this case marks the first time that a for-profit company has cited The Religious Freedom Restoration Act to argue against being required to provide birth control. Conservative Justice Samuel Alito stated:
“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 Government’s 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.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent read:
“Reading the Act expansively, as the Court does, raises a host of ‘Me, too’ questions. Can an employer in business for profit opt out of coverage for blood transfusions, vaccinations, antidepressants, or medications derived from pigs, based on the employer’s sincerely held religious beliefs opposing those medical practices.”
The court has stated that the ruling applies specifically to the birth control mandate.
The decision will likely have an effect on other companies that object to the provision of Obamacare mandating health insurance that covers birth control. According to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, there are a total of 49 cases.
The ruling in its entirety is available here.