Contraceptives Mandate Rejected for Some Corporations

2014

The Supreme Court rules, 5-4, that the Affordable Care Act violates a federal law protecting religious freedom by requiring family-owned corporations to pay for insurance coverage for contraception. The coverage was challenged by two corporations, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, whose owners said they try to run their businesses based on Christian principles.

Justice Samuel Alito, in the majority opinion in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, stresses that the Court had decided only that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act applied to “closely held” for-profit corporations run on religious principles. The Court rejects the government’s argument that neither the owners nor the corporations could bring a religious-freedom claim. “Protecting the free-exercise rights of corporations like Hobby Lobby … protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control those companies,” Alito writes. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissenting opinion criticizes the ruling as a radical overhaul of corporate rights.