In a victory for religious freedom, the Supreme Court ruled today 5-4 in favor of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. in the case Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (formerly named Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby). The case was the strongest legal challenge to Obamacare since 2012.
The case concerned the HHS Contraception Mandate, which mandated that employers provide certain forms of contraception at no cost to their employees.
While still a legal victory for Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., the decision is limited to closely-held for-profit corporations, not non-profits such as Little Sisters of the Poor. The decision is also strictly limited to the issue of the contraception mandate, not other medical practices.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his majority opinion:
This decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to hold that all insurance-coverage mandates e.g., for vaccinations or blood transfusions, must necessarily fall if they conflict with an employer's religious beliefs. Nor does it provide a shield for employers who might cloak illegal discrimination as a religious practice.
Alito was joined in his opinion by Justices Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Kennedy. Kennedy also wrote a concurring opinion, detailing how the government already has programs in place to pay for birth control. Justice Ginsburg wrote the dissent, joined by Justices Sotomayor, Breyer, and Kagan.
Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. both claimed that the mandate violated their religious freedom. Both companies believe that certain forms of contraception induce abortion, which violates the religious convictions of their owners.
The Supreme Court is now adjourned until October.
This post has been updated.