Supreme Court Opinion Day

Monday, June 30, 2014

People who support Hobby Lobby's choice to withhold contraceptive healthcare coverage from their employees rally outside the US Supreme Court March 25, 2014 in Washington, DC. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty)

In twin 5-4 rulings, the Supreme Court has ruled that companies may refrain from providing contraception as required by the Affordable Care Act if they object on religious grounds; and that public sector unions may not collect dues from some employees who are not in the union. Emily Bazelon, Slate senior editor, discusses the opinions and the policy implications.


Emily Bazelon

Comments [42]

fuva from harlemworld

CR from Manhattan, please. No one is saying that corporations are inherently evil. I'm saying they have too much power; that to think that there is "equality of access" between corporations and workers is delusional.

Jun. 30 2014 06:33 PM

But now u are free to protest on hobby lobby's sidewalk

Consumer boycotts are the last freedom from free market tyranny.

Jun. 30 2014 05:10 PM


Don't be upset, as the attached indicates the entire conflict will be resolved by a kabuki accounting practice. The insurance company that covers Hobby Lobby employees will be "leaned upon" to provide the abortafacients without cost to the individual insureds employed by Hobby lobby.
It is reminiscent of the pretzel twist logic that attempted to go against the course of human events in protecting the institution of slavery - a series of formal compromises that unstably papered-over irreconcilable differences and were the prelude to the Civil War.

Jun. 30 2014 04:40 PM

Welcome to the new Catholic America! I don't want to hear any crying. The same people who oppose this decision are the same people who support giving amnesty to anyone who pledges obedience to the oriental god-king in the Vatican. Did you think that could go on forever without consequences?

Jun. 30 2014 01:30 PM
CR from Manhattan

fuva from harlemworld

Wanna make a bet that you have any combination of smart phone/notebood/PC/iPad, flat screen TV, health insurance, high-speed-internet and cable, pharmaceutical and OTC drugs in your medicine cabinet, electricity in you house, gas in your car, a pair on Nikes on your feet, Kraft mac n'cheese in your cabinet, a retirement account invested in the US stock market and US corporate bonds? Corporations are the most evil, soulless entities until you need them for... well pretty much everything. Corporations invest in communities, provide jobs, and fuel growth. They do it where they are welcomed and avoid places that vilify, over regulate and over tax them.

Power divide? Inequality? Unfairness? Disruptive to look for a job? This culture of victim-hood is really tiring. You are responsible for yourself. You are responsible for your children (or lack thereof). Your actions have consequences and equality of access isn't the same as a guaranteed outcome.

Jun. 30 2014 12:20 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

BK from Hobroken,

Please take an over the counter chill pill.

Jun. 30 2014 11:49 AM
BK from Hoboken

Unfortunately given the age of the conservatives on the court, I guess I am stuck hoping Scalia chokes on his steak tonight. Between this and Citizens United, hopefully one of these corporations can come give him the Heimlich because they are people and will hopefully be dining in the same steakhouse.

Jun. 30 2014 11:38 AM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

This decision applies to Plan B and certain types of IUD. Let's not get to far ahead of ourselves and extend it to all contraceptives.

Jun. 30 2014 11:34 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Edward, the teachers I know don't complain about the union, they complain about the school administration & having to "teach to the test." And tenure in public schools doesn't mean teachers can't be fired, just that they have the right to due process so they don't get fired without cause.

And to those saying to just work somewhere else, it's not that easy to find another job in this economy.

Jun. 30 2014 11:27 AM
Ed from Larchmont

It's important that they ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby because it wasn't just a case of dislike, these companies would have had to close with this mandate on them.

Jun. 30 2014 11:26 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Ed, no. The question is: Should business people who incorporate to be protected from the business' losses be simultaneously able to impose their religious views on that business? Should they be able to have it both ways?

Jun. 30 2014 11:24 AM

I'm withdrawing my application for hobby lobby employment.

Jun. 30 2014 11:23 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Birth control is so cheap today that even people working at minimum wage jobs can afford to buy birth control.

Jun. 30 2014 11:22 AM
fuva from harlemworld

CR from Manhattan -- Please retire this limited, simplistic point of view, that doesn't acknowledge the huge power divide between corporations and individuals, nor how hard and disruptive it is to find another job. Understand that gross inequality and unfairness subverts freedom.

Jun. 30 2014 11:19 AM
Ed from Larchmont

The issue too is that a person who goes into business shouldn't be forced to act against their (his or her) religious beliefs.

Jun. 30 2014 11:19 AM
Amy from Manhattan

What happens w/non-union workers if there's a strike? Do they decide on an individual basis whether to join the strike? Are they eligible for payments from the union's strike fund even if they do join it?

Jun. 30 2014 11:19 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Under this ruling, can a corporation whose owner objects to abortion on religious grounds refuse insurance coverage of an abortion that's necessary to save a woman's life? Admittedly, that's an extreme position, but some people still believe in it.

Jun. 30 2014 11:16 AM
CR from Manhattan

Jake - NOT being pregnant is not a medical condition. Being pregnant is obviously a medical condition and is covered by most/all insurance.

blacksocialist - Free markets work. They work for labor markets - ever heard of a 401K? Health insurance? Paid leave? All these things came about from a free and open labor market. Every person who works for Hobby Lobby or any other employer sought out that employer, was offered a wage and a package of benefits and then chose to work there. They didn't have to do that; no one forced them. When Hobby Lobby can no longer find employees who are willing to work for the pay/benefits they offer they will be forced to change. As to your "austerity" question, I assume you mean the government robbing one citizen to redistribute to another, things like welfare and "disability" payments, food stamps, free health services, subsidized/free/rent controlled housing, etc. Guilty as charged. All these belong in the realm of charity.

Jun. 30 2014 11:16 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Women have access to birth control outside their employer.

Jun. 30 2014 11:16 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I thing corporations that decides to buy up their stock and go private again should be allowed to do whatever they want, but the owners now can be sued for every dime they have as a result. I think that is a reasonable check for balance.

Jun. 30 2014 11:16 AM
John A

CR from Manhattan:
Clever stuff. Right, to expect No pregnancy from sex is an entitlement and privilege, and not the usual result from healthy people having sex.

Jun. 30 2014 11:13 AM
Mike from Brooklyn

If a publicly traded corporation were to go private could they stop paying for the contraception.

Jun. 30 2014 11:12 AM

Companies that claim the moral high ground should also (logically) refuse to accept the money from people that don't meet their moral standards. Why is it OK to accept "filthy lucre" from a person who commits adultery or uses drugs or alcohol or gambles or beats their partner or uses birth control etc? Shouldn't they be consistent and refuse to profit from these types of people?

Jun. 30 2014 11:12 AM
brian from Mahattan

The Boston Glove says this: "The court stressed that its ruling applies only to corporations, like the Hobby Lobby chain of arts-and-craft stores, that are under the control of just a few people in which there is no essential difference between the business and its owners."

Haven't heard this addressed yet.

Jun. 30 2014 11:12 AM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

The answer is manifest...This SCOTUS has 'created' a right for for-profit corporations that individuals do not yet have. It won't be long...Where's the wave of outrage over judicial activism.

Jun. 30 2014 11:12 AM
BK from Hoboken

Ed- "there's no need to impede someone's freedom of religion"
A corporation is NOT a person. When you incorporate, you give up your personal rights. When you get the benefits of being incorporated (ie the owner of a company can't personally be sued), you lose the ability to now claim personal freedom. You can't have it both ways. Unless you are a conservative Supreme Court justice apparently.

Jun. 30 2014 11:09 AM
Benjamin Marshall from Plainfield, NJ

Does the exclusion of Birth control include vasectomies? Or is the exclusion strictly about women's birth control?

Jun. 30 2014 11:08 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Years ago workers needed unions to protect their rights.

Today unions are the problem - oppressing workers.

End Tenure for teachers and defang the UFT - Union of Failed Teachers.

Get rid of bad teachers.

Jun. 30 2014 11:07 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The Supreme Court can pull whatever it wants out of its butt and call it "supreme law." Fortunately a different Supreme Court later on can overturn its nonsense.

Employers should have the right to hire and fire whomever they want, and those companies that hire the best people will win out in the end.

Jun. 30 2014 11:06 AM
mc from Greenpoint

I'm curious if companies will be required to disclose their positions in the hiring process. Are they still allowed tobalways they they are an equal opportunity employer ?

Jun. 30 2014 11:04 AM
blacksocialist from BKbaby

cr from manh - youre a mor0n. yes, put the onus on the employees as opposed to the employers, the ones with the power to hire and fire. especially in a depressed economy. i bet youre for austerity as well. pathetic.

Jun. 30 2014 10:44 AM
Jake S

CR - you claiming that being pregnant is not a "medical condition" is the most laughable thing I've seen posted here in awhile. It results in doctor's visits, extended prenatal care, a high chance of complications, usually finishes in a hospital...I'm really curious to see your justification on this one.

Jun. 30 2014 10:43 AM
CR from Manhattan

If you don't like the benefits your company provides, go work somewhere else. If you don't like the way a company treats their employees, don't shop there.

By the way... insurance is to protect from risk. Medical insurance protects against unexpected medical conditions. A woman NOT being pregnant is not a medical condition. Why doesn't my car insurance cover gas, oil changes, and new tires?

Jun. 30 2014 10:37 AM
Ed from Larchmont

That would annoy me.

Jun. 30 2014 10:34 AM
Mar from nyc/fl

No birth control, no maternity leave, no child care...
makes it hard to make the argument that some cos are prolife.

Jun. 30 2014 10:33 AM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

The Supreme Court upholding an employers' right NOT to pay their part of insurance premiums that buys contraception guts a very large part of Obamacare. Womens needs are again given lower priority. It also opens the door for lots more cases going through our court system. Bad choice for them...But maybe they actually like arguing the same or similar cases over and over.

Jun. 30 2014 10:30 AM

Can I refuse to pay taxes because I have religious objections to funding war?

Jun. 30 2014 10:23 AM

Jeez, the "from" brigade is out early today. You guys need more variation -- it looks like you're all from the same disinformation bureau.

How long before a "life-long Democrat and union member" "from Canarsie" chimes in to damn both union dues and contraceptive coverage as a grave offense against probity and freedom?

Jun. 30 2014 10:20 AM
Joyce from NYC

Brian, you keep saying "the union negotiates in their interest."

Are you sure? In my case, as a 40+ year union member, I do not always feel that is the case -- but hey, who am I to have an opinion. I am not a big shot union boss.

Jun. 30 2014 10:14 AM
Joyce from NYC

I have been a dues paying, card carrying member of my union for 40+ years.

Four years ago, in the last contract, the union won mandatory dues from everyone, member or not.

I object to this:

- I choose to be a union member and to pay dues to have an influence on union policy and union positions in contract negotiations. (As little as that influence is – my union is not very transparent.)

- With the old policy, I (and others) could (to some extent) hold our union accountable with the threat of withdrawing from membership.

- Now we have lost that, and are more subject than ever to a union with which we do not always agree.

But hey, who needs democratic choice when our rulers are so benevolent.

Jun. 30 2014 10:11 AM
Jake S

I hope the court decides on mandatory abortions for all just to annoy Ed from Larchmont.

Jun. 30 2014 09:48 AM
Ed from Larchmont

I bet the court decides for Hobby Lobby and Conastoga (sp?): contraceptives can be easily gotten elsewhere, there's no need to impede someone's freedom of religion. And paying the fine is unrealistic since it's so massive.

Jun. 30 2014 08:06 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.