How will SCOTUS rule on Hobby Lobby tomorrow?

posted at 2:01 pm on June 29, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

There are just two cases left to be decided in this session of the US Supreme Court and we should have both rulings tomorrow. Since many of you fall into roughly the same category of geekdom when it comes to government and public policy as many other citizens do about baseball, I’m sure you’re waiting with bated breath. Harris vs Quinn will be a big one, no doubt, since it has the potential to deal a severe blow to unions and their ability to pick the pockets of those who choose not to be members, but the one we’ve been covering here with the most intensity is Hobby Lobby.

Regular readers already know what’s at stake, (and if you don’t, you can see much of the history of it with these links) but how will the court decide this one? Will owners of a private business retain the same rights of religious freedom or does ObamaCare override all of that?

Attorney Doug Mataconis predicts that it will go Hobby Lobby’s way, but probably in a limited fashion.

In light of how the oral argument went, the expectation from most legal analysts is that tomorrow’s decision will result in a ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The unanswered question at this point is how wide or narrow that ruling might be, because the implications of a ruling that provides private entities with a basis to assert the religious preferences of their owners could be quite far reaching…

Beyond birth control, there are countless other areas where a broadly expansive ruling on the RFRA’s application to this situation would have a big impact. In the employer-employee context, it would theoretically mean that an employer would have the basis to deny coverage for other medical conditions or procedures if they can put forward a credible religious objection to the same. Outside of that relationship, such a ruling would have an obvious impact on the issues that have arisen in recent years surrounding same-sex marriage and the question of whether certain businesses — such as wedding photographers and bakers — should have a right to refuse to provide service to same-sex wedding ceremonies notwithstanding any applicable law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. Depending on how broadly the Court rules tomorrow, there would seem to me to be a strong argument in favor of such vendors being able to exempt themselves from generally applicable laws such as anti-discrimination laws. Indeed, in anticipation of this decision several states have already made moves to strenthen their own versions of the RFRA to give protection to businesses in these types of situations. In those states, obviously, it wouldn’t matter what the Supreme Court decides.

Given the recent history of this particular court, I think that’s a fairly safe bet. The Justices haven’t tended to make sweeping, precedent shifting calls on hotly contested social debates which would hold the potential to seriously alter how things operate across the entire national spectrum. More often, they have made narrowly defined decisions which essentially impact just the litigants in question or a limited class of operatives in very similar circumstance. And that’s when they choose to hear the case at all. In many others they have either punted entirely or kicked the case for a lack of standing by those bringing it without judging the underlying case on its merits.

It seems likely that this one will go the same way, with Hobby Lobby prevailing but not opening the door to some wholesale platform for individuals or businesses (outside of charitable organizations and churches) to reject all manner of federal law based on their religious convictions. I also don’t expect to see them return this one unanimously, as they almost miraculously did in 12 of the last 16. Expect most, if not all of the four liberal justices to go against Hobby Lobby. I’d be pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong on this one, but it seems doubtful.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2 3

Funny how it’s only ever the Republican appointees’ votes that are in play. Everyone already knows exactly how the liberals are going to vote on every case. Which just lets us know that they don’t rule on the law, they rule on how they, personally, feel about it.

Lamont Cranston on June 30, 2014 at 2:04 AM

I don’t think TPOP has reached your level of idiocy, yet.
cozmo on June 29, 2014 at 7:05 PM

At least ThePrimordialOrderedPair actually contributes to discussions, unlike you, whose comments are 99% petty personal insults directed at other commenters.

bluegill on June 30, 2014 at 2:50 AM

This might be an obvious point, but contraception doesn’t just benefit women. Without two heterosexual people of opposite genders, contraception is superfluous. Both partners benefit even when only one of them gets the contraceptive.

Which raises an interesting issue: What if the company was willing to offer contraception as part of its health benefit package, but only as a spousal benefit (thus limiting it automatically to married couples)? That takes the promiscuity-enabling moral argument out of the picture, at minimum.

Moron Labe on June 30, 2014 at 1:33 AM

Hobby Lobby doesn’t object to the projection that contraceptives might promote promiscuity. They object to only certain specific contraceptives that are, or can be, abortifacients.

As often happens, if the government had stuck to requiring only actual contraceptives, there might never have been a conflict, at least not with Hobby Lobby. Catholic organizations might object to all contraceptives as a matter of principle, because that is the position of their church, but I don’t think any other Christian groups do.

But abortifacients cause the death of a fertilized human egg, i.e. a human being, and that’s unacceptable to Hobby Lobby.

There Goes the Neighborhood on June 30, 2014 at 3:00 AM

Hobby Lobby, if this ruling goes against you, feel free to move your national headquarters from Oklahoma here to Texas. When we secede, you can re-open all of the stores. We will gladly accept your company, your jobs and your good service. :)

Theophile on June 30, 2014 at 3:57 AM

Hobby Lobby doesn’t object to the projection that contraceptives might promote promiscuity. They object to only certain specific contraceptives that are, or can be, abortifacients.

As often happens, if the government had stuck to requiring only actual contraceptives, there might never have been a conflict, at least not with Hobby Lobby. Catholic organizations might object to all contraceptives as a matter of principle, because that is the position of their church, but I don’t think any other Christian groups do.

But abortifacients cause the death of a fertilized human egg, i.e. a human being, and that’s unacceptable to Hobby Lobby.

There Goes the Neighborhood on June 30, 2014 at 3:00 AM

Thank you. People need to be reminded again and again of this aspect of the Hobby Lobby case. Everywhere I see the case described, reporters and commentators thoroughly misconstrue the matter. I wish there was more awareness and clarity on this issue.

But I disagree with the characterization of abortifacients as being a specific kind of contraceptive. Even our own Ed Morrissey blurs the issue at times. I think there’s a fundamental issue here, including an unintentional misunderstanding (or lack of appreciation) of the terms conception and contraception.

As this case deals with one or more abortifacients, we’re discussing something pertaining to an event AFTER conception, which isn’t any kind of contraception as far as I understand the term. This distinction goes to the very heart of the matter: the definition of pregnancy and when it occurs, which in turn defines contraception.

Lolo on June 30, 2014 at 5:45 AM

Prediction: 5-4 against Hobby Lobby, with the same justice breakdown that upheld Obamacare.

Stoic Patriot on June 30, 2014 at 6:04 AM

Hobby Lobby, if this ruling goes against you, feel free to move your national headquarters from Oklahoma here to Texas. When we secede, you can re-open all of the stores. We will gladly accept your company, your jobs and your good service. :)

Theophile on June 30, 2014 at 3:57 AM

Can a family of four, God-fearing Christian patriots come along for the ride? We love hot weather and we’re hard workers. :-)

Grace_is_sufficient on June 30, 2014 at 7:16 AM

The framers of our Constitution meant we were to have freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.- Rev. Billy Graham

My take.

kingsjester on June 30, 2014 at 7:27 AM

Come on Hobby Lobby!

gophergirl on June 30, 2014 at 7:46 AM

As this case deals with one or more abortifacients, we’re discussing something pertaining to an event AFTER conception, which isn’t any kind of contraception as far as I understand the term. This distinction goes to the very heart of the matter: the definition of pregnancy and when it occurs, which in turn defines contraception.
Lolo on June 30, 2014 at 5:45 AM

I don’t think it matters. The focus is on the “free exercise” of religion protected by the 1st amendment and to what extent this protection overrides the dictates of the regulatory/administrative state in its quest to micro-manage the purchase and provision of health care. If you’re implication is that the religious objection to abortifacients is much stronger than a religious objection to traditional contraceptives then you are asking the court to become the State arbiter of which religious interests are sufficiently acceptable to them to enjoy constitutional protections.

tommyboy on June 30, 2014 at 8:09 AM

Man I wish there were an edit feature here. You’re = your

tommyboy on June 30, 2014 at 8:10 AM

Prediction: 5-4 against Hobby Lobby, with the same justice breakdown that upheld Obamacare.

Stoic Patriot on June 30, 2014 at 6:04 AM

+1

ezspirit on June 30, 2014 at 9:02 AM

I have no faith in SCOTUS to follow the Constitution.
If it actually did it’s job, we wouldn’t have the bloated, corrupt, liberty-stomping government we have today.

Well, we might have a corrupt government (government always attracts dishonest, corrupt men – and that’s the problem with it), but it wouldn’t be quite so bloated and tyrannical.

DRayRaven on June 30, 2014 at 9:16 AM

tommyboy on June 30, 2014 at 8:09 AM

Thank you. The specific case before the Court may involve contraception and abortifacients and Obamacare. But what is at stake is the essence of the First Amendment.

Missy on June 30, 2014 at 9:32 AM

A decision FOR Hobby Lobby would still be a very narrow defeat for Obamacare.

Very narrow

jake-the-goose on June 30, 2014 at 9:37 AM

. . . People need to be reminded again and again of this aspect of the Hobby Lobby case. Everywhere I see the case described, reporters and commentators thoroughly misconstrue the matter. I wish there was more awareness and clarity on this issue. . . .

Lolo on June 30, 2014 at 5:45 AM

Just this morning, a news reader on the radio described the case as “Hobby Lobby wants to refuse contraceptives to its employees on religious grounds.” Actually, as you stated with obvious clarity, the company is opposed to a mandatory order to provide abortifacts to its employees.

BigAlSouth on June 30, 2014 at 9:58 AM

If a for profit company cannot function and fulfill their religious ideals without running afoul of the government, then maybe they are not a for-profit company at all, but will have to be designated a non profit one, or maybe they are a church, or a charity. We all know there is plenty of money raked in at those quasi businesses today, and this would solve the religious ideals problem. And, yes, I really think the Hobby Lobby would then be free from corporate income tax.

Not paying for abortions or pills is not bigotry, and the feds telling you exactly what benefits a company has to give out is too weird for words.

Not high blood pressure medication… not insulin…Not something life saving…but abortion, which for the feds violates the Hyde Act.

Fleuries on June 30, 2014 at 10:00 AM

10:00am – here we go

jake-the-goose on June 30, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Harris – Unions lose – HUGE LOSS for the Unions – HUGE

jake-the-goose on June 30, 2014 at 10:03 AM

Not sweeping – but Harris does damage the Unions

jake-the-goose on June 30, 2014 at 10:04 AM

Harris – 5-to-4 (as usual)

jake-the-goose on June 30, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Alito to read for Hobby Lobby – might indicate a win for Hobby Lobby

jake-the-goose on June 30, 2014 at 10:07 AM

HA! Hobby Lobby wins!!!

WhirledPeas on June 30, 2014 at 10:24 AM

5:4 for liberty

Schadenfreude on June 30, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Corporations couldn’t find jesus if he was in the store. Because a corporation isn’t a freaking person.

triple on June 29, 2014 at 8:03 PM

Wrong again, Genius.

Twice. Wrong twice in one sentence. Wow.

oh, by the way…sorry about that ‘Unions not being able to rob people anymore’ ruling, though.

Where are you tards gonna get funding now? …lemme guess…
Global Warming research Grants?

a5minmajor on June 30, 2014 at 9:36 PM

Comment pages: 1 2 3