U.S. Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in Hobby Lobby Case

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments addressing Hobby Lobby’s legal challenge of the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate.  The arguments, which lasted 90 minutes, offered a glimpse into how the court may rule in the case, although how the court will ultimately rule is anyone’s guess.

Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, and Ginsburg asked Hobby Lobby’s lawyer about the impact of ruling that would favor Hobby Lobby.  Could a business refuse to offer coverage for vaccinations, or blood transfusions on religious grounds, they asked?  Hobby Lobby’s attorney replied that each of these would have to be viewed independently to determine if the state had a compelling government interest to require such coverage.

Chief Justice John Roberts suggested the possibility of allowing closely held businesses to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage on religious grounds, leaving the question of whether publically held corporations could do so for another day.

Churches are exempt from the mandate, and church affiliated hospitals, universities, and charitable organizations have been offered an “accommodation,” which permits them to pass on the cost to the insurance companies. Lawsuits challenging the accommodation for church affiliated groups were not at issue during this week’s arguments, although the ruling could impact those cases as well.  A ruling is expected in late June.


Posted: March 28, 2014

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