Washington D.C. — The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby today in a landmark case that closely-held companies can object on religious grounds to provisions of the Affordable Care Act that require them to provide healthcare coverage that includes contraception.
The ruling came down on a 5-4 ideological divide with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg authoring the dissent and Justice Samuel Alito offering the opinion of the majority. The case has become one of the most hotly debated public policy discussions since President Barack Obama saw his health care bill signed into law.
On the side of Hobby Lobby, lawmakers and conservatives say that the birth control mandate in the ACA requires companies with a religious foundation to engage in practices that violate their conscience – a 1st Amendment violation. Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt even offered legislation to fix the so-called problem, but his “conscience” amendment was defeated in the Senate.
The court held today that closely held companies with strong religious beliefs could not be compelled to provide birth control in their health insurance coverage. The ruling came thanks in large part to lawyers for Hobby Lobby that successfully argued that the government had not shown that the birth control mandate was the least restrictive way of going about providing coverage.
Republicans largely called the ruling a victory for religious freedom and yet another legal smack down of a policy championed by President Obama. Liberals and women’s groups say the ruling embraced the corporate personhood of Hobby Lobby over real women, and some groups are already vowing an appeal.
“Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court is an important victory to protect Americans’ fundamental right of religious freedom,” Blunt said in a statement. “Americans should not be forced to choose between giving up their business for their faith or giving up their faith for their business. I applaud the Court’s decision today, which simply affirms the fundamental religious freedom that Americans have enjoyed for more than 220 years.”
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.