4th Jul 2014
HSS v Hobby Lobby SC – This is a PDF of the Supreme Court Ruling
Justice Alioto delivered the opinion of the SupremeCourt.
In summary, the court was to decide whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), 107 Stat. 1488,42 U. S. C. §2000bb et seq., permits the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to demand that three closely held corporations provide health-insurance coverage for methods of contraception that violate the sincerely held religious beliefs of the companies’ owners. We hold that the regulations that impose this obligation violate RFRA, which prohibits the Federal Government from taking any action that substantially burdens the exercise of religion unless that action constitutes the least restrictive means of serving a compelling government interest.
In holding that the HHS mandate is unlawful, the court rejected HHS’s argument that the owners of the companies forfeited all RFRA protection when they decided to organize their businesses as corporations rather than sole proprietorships or general partnerships. The plain terms of RFRA make it perfectly clear that Congress did not discriminate in this way against men and women who wish to run their businesses as for-profit corporations in the manner required by their religious beliefs.
The court continued that since RFRA applies in these cases, they must decide whether the challenged HHS regulations substantially burden the exercise of religion, and the court held that it does. The owners of the businesses have religious objections to abortion, and according to their religious beliefs the four contraceptive methods at issue are abortifacients. If the owners comply with the HHS mandate, they believe they will be facilitating abortions, and if they do not comply, they will pay a very heavy price—as much as $1.3 million per day, or about $475 million per year, in the case of one of the companies. If these consequences do not amount to a substantial burden, it is hard to see what would.
To see or read the full text select the PDF file attached. The PDF also includes the dissenting opinion written by Justice Ginsberg.
This was a very controversial issue for many Americans as the issue is one that touches and concerns so many aspects of personal freedom, liberty and the pursuant of happiness. Please stay active in your local, state and national government activities.