U.S. News


Supreme Court Backs Hobby Lobby On Contraception Exemption

In a 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled closely held corporations cannot be forced to provide contraception under the Affordable Care Act.
Posted at 11:17 AM, Jun 30, 2014

In one of its most anticipated legal decisions this year, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled closely held corporations can claim a religious exemption to providing contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act. (Via Flickr / Mark Fischer)

The case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby concerned a requirement of the president's health care law that businesses with more than 50 employees must offer health insurance or pay a penalty. All FDA-approved contraception must be included in that coverage. (Via WJLA

Hobby Lobby President Steve Green objected on religious grounds to providing four of those contraceptives — two forms of emergency contraceptives and two forms of IUDs. (Via Wikimedia Commons / DangApricot)

GREEN: "This is an issue of life. We cannot be a part of taking life. To be in a situation where the government is telling us we have to be is incredible." (Via Hobby Lobby

Hobby Lobby, along with one other company, sued then-Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, claiming the contraception mandate was a "substantial burden" on their religious expression. (Via Flickr / Nicholas Eckhart)

At the heart of the case was the concept of corporate personhood — that is, whether corporations share an individual's right to religious freedom. And if so, could they refuse to comply with the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate based on those beliefs?

The court's five Republican-appointed justices said they could. Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito said under current law, "enforcement of the [HHS] contraceptive mandate against the objecting parties in these cases is unlawful." (Via U.S. Supreme Court / Steve Petteway

The White House disagreed. “We will work with Congress to make sure that any women affected by this decision will still have the same coverage of vital health services as anyone else.” (Via CNN

Also Monday, in a blow to unions, the Supreme Court handed down a narrow ruling in Harris v. Quinn, saying home caregivers cannot be forced to pay union dues.