In a limited decision today, The Supreme Court ruled that closely held, for-profit companies can cite a religious exemption to the national healthcare requirement that they provide coverage for contraceptives.
Hobby Lobby, a chain founded on Biblical teachings, challenged this aspect of the Affordable Care Act, which forces companies with over 50 employees to cover preventive care services, such as as morning-after pills, diaphragms and IUDs.
The court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby this morning, with Justice Samuel Alito writing the summation.
It noted other ways for the employees of the small companies to receive contraceptive coverage. To wit:
The government already pays for the coverage for employees of certain nonprofits, such as churches and church charities.
The companies in the Hobby Lobby case persuasively argued that the use of some contraceptives is akin to abortion; i.e. destroying a human life by interfering with a fertilized egg.
The Obama administration countered that freedom of religion applies only to the company owners, not to the for-profit corporations themselves.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a dissenting opinion on behalf of the liberal wing of the court, making the following point:
"In a decision of startling breadth, the court holds that commercial enterprises, including corporations, along with partnerships and sole proprietorships, can opt out of any law ... they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs."