BREAKING: What The Supreme Court Ruling In The Hobby Lobby Case Really Means


In a 5-4-ruling this morning, the US Supreme Court announced that, in the Hobby Lobby case, the government cannot force companies to provide contraceptive coverage for employees.

That’s huge. Abortion coverage usually doesn’t mean a heck of a lot for gays and lesbians, but the decision sets a precedent that could do harm down the road for equal treatment in health insurance and discrimination by essentially declaring religious liberty to be superior to more secular concerns of employees. Hobby Lobbied sued the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act on the grounds that it violated the owner’s Christian moral standards by forcing it to provide contraceptive coverage.

Now that the Supreme Court has declared that corporations can have religious convictions, just like a person, the logical extension is that those same convictions could one day be justified in overruling well-established workplace nondiscrimination laws. In that scenario, an employer could justify a policy against hiring gays–or even anyone who seems gay-ish–by claiming that hiring gays or even providing health care to them would violate their company’s religious beliefs. Hobby lobby, which covers other forms of birth control, have not indicated such a sweeping view, but the potential is there for such an interpretation of the ruling.

Here’s a little background: the religious families who own Hobby Lobby (a chain of craft stores you may want to avoid at all cost) consider the morning-after pill abortion, despite it really not being abortion at all. But their religious beliefs say it is, so that’s what matters to them.

The government says there’s a minimum standard of health care that people must receive in order for a civilization to function (even if those people are women), and that Hobby Lobby is a company, not a person, and companies aren’t burdened by religious beliefs the way humans are.

So now that we have a ruling, what’s next? Well, the court’s made a determination on corporations, but the next lawsuit will be about nonprofits. Specifically, a nonprofit made up of nuns who care for the elderly. The leaders of that group, too, believe that there’s something so special about the possibility of conception that it would violate the organization’s collective conscience to prevent it from happening.

The case will probably reach to the Supreme Court next year.

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  • Cam

    Then if this is what the court stated, I think there also needs to be a threshold that the owners need to pass to show that their religious beliefs are actually sincerely held.

    I.E. don’t claim that you do not want to get out having an insurance coverage for birth control pills and abortion in your company if you buy all of your goods from China where mandatory abortions are regularly enforced.

    That right there shows me that their beliefs are not sincere. They are hypocrites.

  • DonW

    @Cam: No one is talking about “abortion coverage” (the first paragraph of the story is inaccurate). The business owners claim that are opposed to certain types of contraception that allegedly prevent a fertilized egg from implanting. The Obama administration is NOT trying to require employer policies to cover surgical abortion of a fetus.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    Hobby Lobby considers IUDs a form of abortion, as it interferes with the egg’s implanting into the uterus. With this case and the Union harming case passed this week and then Citizens United, and gutting the Voter Rights Act, is there any doubt how we should vote next election cycle? Every vote counts! Presidents come and go, Supreme Court Justices are appointed for a lifetime.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    The morning-after pill is also considered abortion by Hobby Lobby. Cam, you are so right! Here these hypocrites do business with China, when it serves their pocketbook.

  • Matt1961

    Show this company and any other like it how you feel by NOT shopping there. This is ideology pure and simple, and this type of ruling and politics is only furthering the polarization of our country unfortunately.

    I do worry about further implications down the road, and how it will affect the LGBTQ community.

  • RonRon

    @Cam: I totally agree, if Hobby Lobby claims to be a serious religious family or business they would NOT deal with others who approve of things that are against their TRUE beliefs. Why people think others have to live by their beliefs I will never understand. If they don’t wont an abortion don’t have one, but if someone else wants or needs an abortion give them the freedom to have one, FREEDOM is what this country is all about! DonW must be a true Republican, lol. GOD is everything let him be the judge, not you or anyone else. GOD is good!
    Matt Baume, this means a HECK of a lot for us gays, it goes down the road of freedom of choice and equal rights for all. It’s not making anyone have an abortion it’s giving them the option to have an abortion, and providing ways to prevent getting to the point of having to make decision of an abortion by providing birth control/family planning!

  • 1EqualityUSA

    Mother Jones:
    On Monday, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg penned a blistering dissent to the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling that the government can’t require certain employers to provide insurance coverage for methods of birth control and emergency contraception that conflict with their religious beliefs. Ginsburg wrote that her five male colleagues, “in a decision of startling breadth,” would allow corporations to opt out of almost any law that they find “incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

    More MoJo coverage of the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision.
    Hobby Lobby’s Hypocrisy: The Company’s Retirement Plan Invests in Contraception Manufacturers
    Why the Decision Is the New Bush v. Gore
    How Obama Can Make Sure Hobby Lobby’s Female Employees Are Covered
    The Supreme Court Chooses Religion Over Science
    Hobby Lobby Wasn’t About Religious Freedom. It Was About Abortion.
    Here are seven more key quotes from Ginsburg’s dissent in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby:

    “The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would…deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs access to contraceptive coverage”
    “Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community.”
    “Any decision to use contraceptives made by a woman covered under Hobby Lobby’s or Conestoga’s plan will not be propelled by the Government, it will be the woman’s autonomous choice, informed by the physician she consults.”
    “It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month’s full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage.”
    “Would the exemption…extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations[?]…Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today’s decision.”
    “Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be ‘perceived as favoring one religion over another,’ the very ‘risk the [Constitution’s] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.”
    “The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”

  • jonjct

    The revolution is coming. whichever side you’re on, … better get ready.

    • RonRon

      motived and back/pushed by the Republicans in Congress, trying to destroy anything President Obama is for. HELLO! the Supreme Court should NOT let politics makes their decision.

  • bullchief49

    @Cam: You’re right in your comments and the court took that into consideration. The court said that the company has to have a closely-held interest, and they will have to prove that they had these interests before Hobby Lobby was passed. If the company tries to change their coverage after the decision was made then it will not be lawful because the court has to assume that they only did so to try to save money or discriminate against certain people. The court also said that companies cannot use RFRA in order to discriminate against people of different races for religious reasons, but of course it does not mention discrimination against sexual orientation or gender identity.

  • loren_1955

    The fact that 1) they are eager and willing to accept money from customers that use contraceptives, IUD’s and have abortions, and 2) 90% of their merchandise comes from China that openly practices forced abortions and use of contraceptives to me says they are very selective in their Christian beliefs. As long as they get money they don’t care, if they have to put money out, no way. That’s called hypocrisy.

  • michael mellor

    Contraception is not medicine. I don’t see why there should be health coverage for non-medicinal items.

    • RonRon

      @michael mellor: that’s your opinion, it’s not about medicine it’s about healthcare and freedom of choice and the right to live life without being control by someone. It should be an individual choice.

  • jimontp

    I think you guys are missing the most important part of this horrendous ruling. If your employer’s “deeply held” religious beliefs get to determine what kind of health care coverage you can get, then there are going to be lots of employers who refuse to cover PreP drugs to prevent HIV infection, cause they don’t approve of that whole “homosexual lifestyle” and then it’s a logical next step for employers to object to paying for ANY HIV treatment, or for that matter STI screening or treatment. Think about it. They start with abortion or “morning-after” birth control, then they come after gays. It’s going to be remembered as John Roberts’ Dred Scott case (google it)- the most shameful decision of the Supreme Court in our life time.

  • jimontp

    @michael mellor: And you are a doctor? Obviously not. Birth control (contraception for the ill informed) is used for ALL KINDS of medical treatment in addition to preventing conception. Who wants an idiot like you deciding what medical care is appropriate for a patient?? Really, YOU have no business sticking your nose into a doctor-patient decision. And Neither does this bunch of old men on the Supreme Court. Shameful disregard of basic human rights.

  • Estraven

    The Scientologists do not believe in ALL psychiatric medications, including anti-psychotics for schizophrenics and mood stabilizers for people with Bipolar Disorder, who commit suicide at very high rates. They don’t believe in the whole field, so I suppose they wouldn’t pay for therapy either. This is disastrous legislation. Although it is directly contrary to the Americans with Disabilities Act, it seems to me, in that the workplace accommodation someone with Bipolar needs the most is that their meds and therapy get paid for.

  • RonRon

    @jimontp: I agree complete! Very scary!

  • 1EqualityUSA

    And if they object to same-sex marriage, they may say that our spouses are not covered. Besides never voting for a Republican ever again as long as they live, what can women do to rectify this violation of their rights? Is this the first of many of these kinds of decisions, because they know that it will be a very, very long time before another Republican spawned Scalia will ever be appointed to the lifetime appointment?

  • michael mellor


    Trust you to stereotype gay men by raising the issue of HIV. Funny how the gay community uses stereotypes to play the gay victim card but then complains about these very same stereotypes when conservatives use them.

    Bottom line is that contraception is not medicine. The Supreme Court’s decision was a good one.

  • James Hart

    People are free to engage in whatever behavior they so choose, but you can’t expect others to foot the bill.

  • CodyJ

    her five ‘catholic’ colleagues

  • Boytoy

    This is problematic.I look forward to the legal battles ahead,thanks for the green light of corporate discrimination based on “religious freedoms” supreme court! hahahahahaha

  • BJ McFrisky

    Gay people are affected by birth control?
    News to me.

  • Maude


    This ruling merely disallows the government to dictate that a private company must provide it’s employees with every kind of birth control….INCLUDING ABORTION TYPE MEDICATIONS, NOT JUST CONTRACEPTION.

    There are 20 provisions in the contraception regulations, and this new ruling agrees that abortion is anathema to all religions that believe that life begins at conception.

    Those women who wish to use such ‘medications’ can still buy it themselves, or those who support abortion IE;Planned Parenthood can provide it for them.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    and spend a whole month’s wages buying an IUD. Minimum wage earners will not be able to afford IUD, Maude.

  • Jim Guinnessey

    The savage Five(all Catholic men) on SCOTUS give with one hand (DOMA verdict) and take away with the other(Holly Lobby). The verdict gives not only greedy corporations and religious nutjobs myriads of excuses (law suits, etc.) to back out of any type of health benefits based on their made up religious objections(aka their “bottom line”) but also emboldens the numerous religious,gay-hating wackos in the USA to get away with their chronic and bigoted mayhem. This SCOTUS ruling is just another version of the hateful Citizens United pronouncement declaring another type of open season on tax paying citizens by selfish conglomerates and tax-exempt religious and pseudo-religious organizations to continue their dirty work unabated.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    The more the gay community is saddled with law suit after law suit, the less capital we have to spend on anything else we deem worthy. Our politics and philanthropy takes a hit. They want us as powerless as possible and a decision such as this just feeds into their plans, more expensive, red herring law suits.

  • dnd

    I can’t believe how misleading these articles are that people are writing. This SC decision did NOT prevent birth control pills to anyone!! It simply prevented the morning after pill and IUD’s. What’s the big deal?? In my opinion NONE of this should be covered by insurance!! If you want to play around in the bedroom, and you don’t want to get pregnant, you and your “mate” should be willing to purchase a condom, iud, morning after, or whatever you deem best for your case. Why should those people who DON’T play in the bedroom have to pay for this extra clause in their insurance policty? Hell, I play golf for my extra curricular activity, why don’t we raise hell with government and make them supplement the cost of my clubs and balls?? The truth is, It should never have gotten to the point where our government is making these kinds of decisions!! And where on earth did this idea that this whole argument is all about “women’s health” come from?? Personally, I think Americans have lost their minds and have finally started to stoop to the level that government knows best how we should run our lives.

    • RonRon

      @dnd – it’s truly about the Republicans still trying to defeat Obamacare! xD

  • 1EqualityUSA

    yet, Vi#gra is covered. oh, yeah… Queerty, can’t belief you censor Mycoxafilin!

  • RonRon

    @dnd: it’s truly about the Republicans still trying to defeat Obamacare! xD

  • inbama

    Next to go – gay wedding cakes as it offends the bakery’s religion.
    Forget insurance coverage for gay spouses at companies like Nazi Lobby.
    If we pass ENDA, they’ll want exemptions from that, too.
    Surrendering your rights and choices to a corporation’s “religion” is a huge step backwards.

  • justSomeGuyFromNJ

    @DonW: Yep. Despite the hysteria surrounding the ruling, Hobby Lobby does, in fact, reimburse for all contraception EXCEPT two: the morning after pill and an IUD.

    I’d love to see some other organization try to expand on this ruling. It’s so narrowly defined, I doubt any organization would be able to get away with refusing to cover all contraception, especially in the case of the pill, which is sometimes prescribed to regulate menstrual cycles; not necessarily for contraception.

Comments are closed.