U.S. Supreme Court Delivers Hobby Lobby Opinion
In a much anticipated ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered an opinion today on the Hobby Lobby case with Justice Alito writing the opinion. The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was at the center of the dispute; specifically, the requirement that for-profit employers offer insurance benefits for birth control and other reproductive health services without a co-pay. Hobby Lobby argued that the requirement violated the First Amendment and other federal laws protecting religious freedom because it required them to provide coverage for contraceptives like the “morning-after pill,” which the company considers tantamount to abortion. In today’s decision, the Court ruled the Department of Health and Human Services violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 by requiring closely held corporations to purchase health insurance that provided contraceptives that would violate the sincerely held beliefs of the corporations’ owners. The Supreme Court stated that the same exception that applies to religious nonprofit corporations should extend to for-profit corporations; however, the ruling does not extend to publicly traded companies and does not currently extend beyond contraceptives (e.g. vaccines, or blood transfusions).