NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Hobby Lobby Wins Contraceptive Case

July 1, 2014

The Supreme Court upheld the right for closely-held corporations to refuse to provide contraceptives to their employees under the Affordable Care Act, reports ABC News.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote the 5-4 opinion which ruled that Obamacare's contraceptive mandate -- which requires employer health plans to cover contraception -- violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Justice Alito wrote that the mandate burdened the employers' exercise of religion, as the Green and Hahn families -- owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga, a cabinet-making company -- were opposed to certain contraceptives on religious grounds. The families challenged the mandate as requiring them to violate their faith or pay a fine. Said Alito, "Protecting the free-exercise rights of corporations like Hobby Lobby, Conestoga and Mardel protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control those companies."

The federal government defended the law, saying that contraception was an essential part of health coverage for women. But the government, wrote Alito, was not able to show "that it lacks other means of achieving its desired goal without imposing a substantial burden on the exercise of religion by the objecting parties in these cases."

The decision was limited to closely-held corporations, and the court noted that the decision "should not be understood to hold that an insurance coverage mandate must necessarily fall if it conflicts with an employer's religious beliefs. Other coverage requirements, such as immunizations, may be supported by different interests (for example, the need to combat the spread of infectious diseases) and may involve different arguments about the least restrictive means of providing them."

Source: Ariane de Vogue, "Hobby Lobby Wins Contraceptive Ruling in Supreme Court," ABC News, June 30, 2014.


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