Affordable Care Act

Argument and Deliberation

Justices Sotomayor, Breyer, Alito, Kagan, Thomas, Scalia, Roberts, Kennedy, and Ginsburg

Oral arguments were held on March 25, 2014 for 30 minutes more than the usual one hour. The three women in the court focused their questioning on Hobby Lobby’s lawyer, Paul D. Clement, while the men focused on the administration’s lawyer, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Jr. Justice Sotomayor quoted the ruling from United States v. Lee (1982) saying that an employer can’t deprive employees of a statutory right because of religious beliefs. Clement replied that Lee does not apply because it was a challenge against a tax rather than against a significant burden. Sotomayor said that instead of paying the burden of the penalty, Hobby Lobby could replace its health care with the equivalent expense of higher wages and a calibrated tax, which the government would use to pay for the employees’ health care.[ Near the end of Clement’s argument, Justice Kennedy expressed concern for the rights of the employees who may not agree with the religious beliefs of their employers.[

When Verrilli argued that the ruling in  Cutter v. Wilkinson requires the court to weigh the impact on third parties in every RFRA case, Justice Scalia said that the RFRA does not require the court to balance the interest of the religious objector to the interest of other individuals. Verilli returned to Lee, saying that granting an exemption to an employer should not impose the employer’s religious faith on the employees.[

Court Majority Decision

On June 30, 2014, Associate Justice Samuel Alito delivered the judgment of the court. Four justices (Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas) joined him to strike down the HHS mandate, as applied to closely held corporations with religious objections, and to prevent the plaintiffs from being compelled to provide contraception under their healthcare plans. The ruling was reached on statutory grounds, citing the RFRA, because the mandate was not the “least restrictive” method of implementing the government’s interest. The ruling did not address Hobby Lobby’s claims under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.  For more information:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burwell_v._Hobby_Lobby

Article from Pew Research folds in the RFRA impact (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) impact and the many angles that the Supreme Court could go.  href=”http://www.pewforum.org/2014/03/20/health-care-laws-contraception-mandate-reaches-the-supreme-court

Article Hobby Lobby Wants to Deny Insurance Coverage of Birth Control. It Should Stop Selling Knitting Needles, Too http://ohionowelf.org/wp/?page_id=801

   Why the decision is WRONG Hobby Lobby Case (and Conestoga Wood) from Raising Women’s Voices

We are the majority: Seventy percent of Americans believe  that women should be able to make decisions about reproductive-health care without interference from politicians or our bosses. 

o Ninety-nine percent of women will use contraception at some point in our lives, whether for family planning or other medical reasons. We should treat birth control like any other preventive medical care.

o Bosses shouldn’t get special treatment just because they don’t want to give their employees contraceptive coverage. We value religious liberty in this country, and that means balancing two key interests: the right to practice religion freely, and the right to practice religion without it imposing on others.

o Individuals have consciences, morality, and religious beliefs; businesses do not. Hobby Lobby CEO David Green may oppose birth control, and that is his personal decision. Individual Hobby Lobby employees have their own moral quandaries and decisions. Hobby Lobby is a company and cannot practice religion.

o If your boss doesn’t believe in the use of birth control, that’s his opinion. That does not give him the right to impose his personal religious views on his employees.

o The recent law passed by Arizona’s legislature that allows businesses to discriminate against the LGBT community shows the dire consequences when “religious liberty” is used to impose one group’s beliefs on another. This case isn’t about the rights of corporate CEOs like David Green. It’s about the workers.

o For workers, the cost of birth control can be a serious burden. Whether a woman needs birth control for family planning or another medical reason, her boss should have no say over the medication she uses.

o Your religious liberty does not entitle you to tell the people who work for you how they live their lives. Workers have religious liberty too. This case could have far-reaching implications for millions of Americans and their health care. While this specific case is about contraception, a finding that bosses can pick and choose their employees’ health care coverage could have far-reaching consequences.

o What if your boss decides he has religious objections to vaccines? What about blood transfusions? Or treatment for HIV/AIDS?.

o A corporate CEO like David Green may be able to afford extra out of pocket expenses for his family, but for many who work for him, like cashiers, don’t make enough to supplement their health care costs. For many workers, that $40 a month can make the difference between being able to support their families or not.

o Contraception is essential. It should not be singled out for special treatment.

 

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