The “hobby lobby” decision of the US Supreme Court who decided by a majority decision to limit its decision to contraception and to closely held businesses, it nevertheless could lead to a dangerous precedent, identified by Jusstice Ginsburg in her dissent.
Adjunct law professor Jessica Pieklo believes that there are now likely to be legal challenges to laws like the Affordable Care Act. The Court’s decision may be under the guise of religious liberty, but it sets a dangerous precedent, she writes.
As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in her dissent, the decision marks the first time the court has allowed a for-profit corporation a religious exemption from complying with a law like the Affordable Care Act.
Naturally, it happens in the context of providing women equal access to employment benefits. First, the court found the two businesses that brought the challenge, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, are “people” guaranteed protections under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Once the conservative majority extended corporate personhood, it took on the question of whether corporations can exercise religious beliefs.
Here, the court doesn’t even bother to offer up much actual analysis. The owners believe life begins at conception and emergency contraception and two forms of IUDs in effect cause abortions. To the majority, that’s enough
The majority goes out of its way to insist its ruling is limited, applying only to “closely-held” corporations. But that’s a meaningless distinction when most businesses are closely held.
The majority also insists that the decision itself is limited to the contraception coverage requirement. It argues that it not be held to stand for a general ruling that any coverage requirement could be avoided if it conflicted with your boss’ religious beliefs. Just wait. Now that we have this ruling, those legal challenges will start.