Burwell v. Hobby Lobby


When it comes to the Religious Freedoms Restoration Act, Burwell v. Hobby (2014) said for-profit corporations have religious freedom to not provide some contraceptives to female workers since it burdens their religion.

The facts of Burwell vs Hobby Lobby are simple. Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts for-profit corporation, sued Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, and challenged the contraception requirement. Hobby Lobby asserted that providing contraceptives under the Patient Protection and Affordable Act aka Obamacare violated the Free Exercise of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA).

Here’s the issue in Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby. Does RFRA allow for-profit corporations to deny their workers birth control because of religious beliefs?

Consequently, here’s the holding of Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby, Yes, for-profit corporations can deny workers contraceptives under RFRA.

Although not a strong holding, the decision was 5 to 4 votes. Nevertheless, it was enough to make law. However, the decision wasn’t a solid holding like 7 to 1 or higher. Perhaps, the holding will be challenged in the future.

That being said, the dissent included Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Basically, she said the decision was a “mine field” and “we’re opening our door to this parade of horribles.” Also, she said, if for-corporations are allowed to get carve outs for the law, they’ll try to get exemptions from other laws involving discrimination or providing vaccines to their workers. Perhaps, they’ll start providing other types of surgeries we don’t approve.

Furthermore, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sees no religious burden in this case. She doesn’t think making someone pay for contraceptives they don’t use is a religious burden. As an example, she says we pay taxes and those are not religious burdens even if they’re used for buying contraceptives.

In the final analysis, a for-profit corporation is a “person” covered by RFRA. They have a right to their religious freedom like a person. However, it remains to be seen how long this right will last since states are trending towards repealing state RFRA’s.

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