June 30, 2014
The owners of the arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby challenged the Affordable Care Act, saying that providing free birth control to their employees violated their religious beliefs.
Will Monday's Supreme Court decision create a loophole for other closely-held companies that, for religious reasons, would like to opt out of covering other requirements like vaccines, in vitro fertilization or blood transfusions?
University of Virginia Law Professor Richard Schragger says maybe.
"The dissent thinks it can and I think a fair reading of the opinion is that these things will have to be taken on a case-by-case basis and courts will have to decide whether these exemptions should be granted," says Schragger.
Douglas Laycock, a UVa. Professor of Law, has voiced his opinion on the topic and has even filed a brief in the Hobby Lobby case, but stands on a different side. He says Monday's decision does not provide as many loopholes as some may think.
"All this decision says is businesses can make claims and they still have to prove that they have a sincere religious objection, that it's substantially burdened, that the government still has a chance to show a compelling interest in opposing that burden," says Laycock.
He says it's a win-win situation. Once companies opt out of birth control coverage their insurance providers will be notified and employees can then seek free birth control.
"Women will get contraception, and companies like Hobby Lobby will not have to pay for it," says Laycock.
Some experts say this decision could open the door for conversations about other forms of regulations. For example, if a company objects to same sex marriage, they may be able to object to same sex couples' benefits.
Claims that could be brought to the court in years to come.
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