Open thread: SCOTUSocalypse Monday with Hobby Lobby, Harris v Quinn; Update: Harris first, unions lose 5-4; Update: Hobby Lobby wins, 5-4

posted at 9:51 am on June 30, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

UPDATE: Hobby Lobby wins, 5-4. See below for other updates.

Two of the most contentious cases on the Supreme Court’s 2013-14 docket finally get resolved today, after which the justices will take a powder from Washington for three months. Both of them would be tasty enough to command attention all day on their own, and today’s end-of-session dissemination will probably drive commentary for the rest of the week. The announcements start at 10 am ET, so we will follow along with updates to this post with the results, with the potential for deeper analysis later.

By now, everyone’s familiar with Hobby Lobby/Conestoga, and perhaps with Harris v QuinnHobby Lobby/Conestoga is the first Supreme Court test for the HHS mandate, which we have covered extensively, but it won’t be the last. This case involves the question of whether the freedom of religious expression for owners of for-profit businesses trump the state interest in providing expanded access to birth control. The latter, Harris, poses the question of whether the state can designate aid recipients as state workers for the purpose of forcibly unionizing them. Both cases have a wide range of outcomes, including the Supreme Court doing nothing much at all. (Gabriel Malor’s primer on the final cases at SCOTUS is particularly helpful.)

Jazz offered his take on the potential outcomes yesterday, and I’ll speculate on Hobby Lobby/Conestoga, at least. The court ruled unanimously last Thursday in McCullen that Massachusetts overreached on state intervention on free speech without considering less intrusive means for satisfying a legitimate state interest, which in that case was public safety. The state interest in expanding contraception access is even less compelling than public safety was in McCullen, and the intrusion far more offensive to First Amendment rights. I’d expect a 6-3 or 7-2 ruling on that basis to strike down the HHS contraception mandate, which would avoid at least in part a decision on the legitimacy of religious expression for business owners. But then again, I am an eternal optimist.

On Harris, I have no prediction to make. I’d like to see the court stop the forced unionization of home health workers (and day care providers) whose only basis for the claim of being a state worker is receiving benefits through safety-net programs, but I’m not completely certain that this court is the one that will make that kind of stand. We’ll see soon enough.

Update: Scenes from the court building:

Er … keep your ovaries and birth practices to yourselves, then.

Update: Justice Sam Alito wrote both opinions, which spells bad news for the White House. First up was Harris, decided 5-4 against the unions. Home care workers cannot be forced into unions. However, at first blush it doesn’t appear that the decision struck down Abood, so it’s still a limited ruling.

It’s a bit of a mixed bag:

They’re getting money for providing care, but they’re not public employees in the sense that they can be forced into public-employee unions. Full decision here, but we’re waiting for the big case.

Update: Hobby Lobby wins 5-4, but it might be a narrow victory — in the for-profit sector, anyway:

That puts a stake through the heart of the HHS contraception mandate when applied to not-for-profit organizations, especially those with religious affiliations. Even on a narrow ownership basis, this ruling all but kills the HHS mandate for anything except for-profit corporations with broad public ownership.

As Hugh Hewitt says, it’s a big victory:

Update: Possible dark cloud on the horizon for religious non-profits?

The majority opinion, by holding that the nonprofit accommodation is a less restrictive means for accommodating closely held for-profit business suggests (at least to me) that the non-profits who object to that process (because they don’t want to have to certify that they object to providing contraceptive coverage) are in trouble. Seems unlikely the Court would say that this is a less restrictive means in this case, only to later hold that it is unconstitutional. But that’s a very quick reaction.

Maybe not:

As compared to the HHS mandate, the accommodation qualifies as a less restrictive means under RFRA whether or not the accommodation itself would survive a RFRA challenge. If the Court rules against the HHS mandate on the ground that the accommodation is a less restrictive means, there would be no reason for it to express any view on whether the accommodation itself satisfies RFRA. Among other things, that question hasn’t been briefed at all in this case, and it is the subject of pending litigation brought by religious nonprofits. …

In sum (and contrary to what Linda Greenhouse, near the end of her latest onlinecolumn, seems to suppose), a resolution of the Hobby Lobby case on this minimalist ground would not mean that Hobby Lobby and other for-profit challengers would have to accept the accommodation. Nor would such a resolution eliminate the prospect that the Court would have to address, a year or so down the road, the separate arguments that the accommodation does not further any compelling interest and that it is not the least restrictive means of advancing any such interest.

Update: The opinion can be found here.


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Comment pages: 1 2 3 11

Don’t eff this one up Roberts.

LtGenRob on June 30, 2014 at 9:55 AM

Everything is a tax.

So let it be written, so let it be done.

BobMbx on June 30, 2014 at 9:56 AM

It’s a tax.

NotCoach on June 30, 2014 at 9:56 AM

*tapping fingers* Come on 9:00

gophergirl on June 30, 2014 at 9:57 AM

Oh, please, Lord.

pambi on June 30, 2014 at 9:57 AM

This is the most important day of Sandra Fluke’s life.

Jedditelol on June 30, 2014 at 9:57 AM

Okay, y’all I have work that ain’t getting done.

cozmo on June 30, 2014 at 9:57 AM

the oligarchs will speak and you will obey. free country my a..,

phatfawzi on June 30, 2014 at 9:57 AM

In related news bonobos apparently figured out fire.

Congo: A Group of Chimpanzees Seem to Have Mastered Fire

NotCoach on June 30, 2014 at 9:58 AM

2K comments or bust!

22044 on June 30, 2014 at 9:58 AM

I predict: libs win both.

will77jeff on June 30, 2014 at 9:58 AM

Okay, y’all I have work that ain’t getting done.

cozmo on June 30, 2014 at 9:57 AM

Join the club – good thing it’s a holiday week.

gophergirl on June 30, 2014 at 9:58 AM

Okay, y’all I have work that ain’t getting done.

cozmo on June 30, 2014 at 9:57 AM

It’s too hot to work.

NotCoach on June 30, 2014 at 9:58 AM

I was fine until just now.

I don’t just Roberts. Arg!

Grace_is_sufficient on June 30, 2014 at 9:59 AM

That should be TRUST. Like I said…I’m nervous!

Grace_is_sufficient on June 30, 2014 at 9:59 AM

It’s too hot to work.

NotCoach on June 30, 2014 at 9:58 AM

No Shinola, I have a yard to cut and a skylight to fix before 90 degrees hits.

cozmo on June 30, 2014 at 9:59 AM

3 months off per year, plus Federal holidays?

Nice work, if you can get it.

JoseQuinones on June 30, 2014 at 10:01 AM

This is taxing.

davidk on June 30, 2014 at 10:02 AM

Harris first.

NotCoach on June 30, 2014 at 10:02 AM

Alito wrote both opinions. Should be good news.

cozmo on June 30, 2014 at 10:03 AM

3 months off per year, plus Federal holidays?

Nice work, if you can get it.

JoseQuinones on June 30, 2014 at 10:01 AM

And laundry service for company provided uniforms.

davidk on June 30, 2014 at 10:03 AM

Boom, hopefully the first of two.

Throat Wobbler Mangrove on June 30, 2014 at 10:03 AM

Libs lose on Harris. Employees can’t be forced to contribute.

OrbeaRider66 on June 30, 2014 at 10:03 AM

Contraceptive is a right….dammit.!!!!

Now you people that make the stuff……

Keep building it……!!!!

It’s the law….

Electrongod on June 30, 2014 at 10:03 AM

Brit Hume’s shirt and tie combo is blinding.

Grace_is_sufficient on June 30, 2014 at 10:03 AM

Libs lose on Harris. Employees can’t be forced to contribute.

OrbeaRider66 on June 30, 2014 at 10:03 AM

YES!

gophergirl on June 30, 2014 at 10:04 AM

Employees can’t be required to contribute to unions!!!

Akzed on June 30, 2014 at 10:04 AM

Boom both opinions by Alito

- first opinion, employees cannot be forced to contribute to unions

commodore on June 30, 2014 at 10:05 AM

This day could be the end of the Republic.

An America where the gays can prance openly but Christianity has to be practiced secretly in the closet is an America in it’s last weeks.

ConstantineXI on June 30, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Supreme Court rejects appeal by former AIG CEO, who accused the Federal Reserve Bank of New York of unlawfully bailing out the insurer at the height of the 2008 financial crisis – @Reuters

davidk on June 30, 2014 at 10:05 AM

The ruling seems to be a bit muted but the intent is there that these particular employees can’t be forced to contribute.

OrbeaRider66 on June 30, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Libs lose on Harris. Employees can’t be forced to contribute.

OrbeaRider66 on June 30, 2014 at 10:03 AM

Let’s wait for the fine print…

Ricard on June 30, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Alito! Yes!

Brit! Shut it!

Grace_is_sufficient on June 30, 2014 at 10:05 AM

3 months off per year, plus Federal holidays?

Nice work, if you can get it.

JoseQuinones on June 30, 2014 at 10:01 AM

And laundry service for company provided uniforms.

davidk on June 30, 2014 at 10:03 AM

Yeah, but do they get free contraceptives, too

jaywemm on June 30, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Okay, y’all I have work that ain’t getting done.

cozmo on June 30, 2014 at 9:57 AM

Ha… the only work you have to get done… Is finding your pants…

oscarwilde on June 30, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Good news on Harris.

rbj on June 30, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Employees can’t be required to contribute to unions!!!

Akzed on June 30, 2014 at 10:04 AM

This means Hobby Lobby goes against us.

ConstantineXI on June 30, 2014 at 10:06 AM

“Keep your rosaries off my ovaries”?

This is what we’re up against, a majority of ignorant aszhats overrunning the nation; what exactly is Hobby Lobby doing to force these fools to follow a Christian doctrine of some sort?

There aren’t enough sandbags in the world for me to fill to get to the point where I feel secure.

Bishop on June 30, 2014 at 10:06 AM

So the courts might actually conclude that employers have the right to dictate what employees are allowed to do with their compensation.

man oh man.

everdiso on June 30, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Boom both opinions by Alito

- first opinion, employees cannot be forced to contribute to unions

commodore on June 30, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Alito is doing Hobby Lobby too?

That seems like a good sign

gophergirl on June 30, 2014 at 10:06 AM

This day could be the end of the Republic.

An America where the gays can prance openly but Christianity has to be practiced secretly in the closet is an America in it’s last weeks.

ConstantineXI on June 30, 2014 at 10:05 AM

I was wondering yesterday what would happen if Christians pick a day and held parades to celebrate Jesus. Would they even be allowed permits?

davidk on June 30, 2014 at 10:07 AM

YAY on Harris !!!
Sad it came to 5-4. Sheesh.

pambi on June 30, 2014 at 10:07 AM

Let’s wait for the fine print…

Ricard on June 30, 2014 at 10:05 AM

This.

Fallon on June 30, 2014 at 10:07 AM

5-4 for the good guys in Harris.

Hopefully 2 for 2.

22044 on June 30, 2014 at 10:07 AM

The Court recognizes a category of “partial public employees” that cannot be required to contribute union bargaining fees.

lynncgb on June 30, 2014 at 10:08 AM

5-4 in Harris with the typical 4 jacka$$es that worship the state thinking that the state can never be denied.

NotCoach on June 30, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Update: Harris first, unions lose 5-4

YES!!! Outstanding! But that was too close. I wouldn’t have thought it would have been only by one.

Patriot Vet on June 30, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Justice Alito is now the de-facto Chief Justice. And that is great news.

Selkirk on June 30, 2014 at 10:09 AM

so it’s still a limited ruling.

Another “limited ruling.” Does it apply to anything?

mankai on June 30, 2014 at 10:09 AM

Of course they split the baby like cowards.

p0s3r on June 30, 2014 at 10:09 AM

I heard Alito will read for Hobby Lobby decision – that might mean that HL won

jake-the-goose on June 30, 2014 at 10:09 AM

So the courts might actually conclude that employers have the right to dictate what employees are allowed to do with their compensation.

man oh man.

everdiso on June 30, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Retard says what?

Only the most mentally deranged person in the universe would actually believe the above. Please explain how Hobby Lobby is trying to preventing anyone from spending their dollars as they wish.

NotCoach on June 30, 2014 at 10:10 AM

SCOTUS Live Blog

PolAgnostic on June 30, 2014 at 10:10 AM

I heard Alito will read for Hobby Lobby decision – that might mean that HL won

jake-the-goose on June 30, 2014 at 10:09 AM

So nervous. I remember the ObamaCare decision. I was in training and I kept checking my phone under the table. When it came down it took everything I had not to swear

gophergirl on June 30, 2014 at 10:10 AM

“birth control is not my boss’s business” chant the people trying to require bosses to cover birth control.

That’s absolutely correct…birth control is not your bosses business. So they have no reason to provide you with birth control…go out and get your own.

JetBoy on June 30, 2014 at 10:10 AM

3 months off per year, plus Federal holidays?

Nice work, if you can get it.

JoseQuinones on June 30, 2014 at 10:01 AM

There are job openings every couple of years. All you have to do is be first in your class at an Ivy League law school, clerk with a Supreme Court justice, go to public service, get appointed to the federal bench, do well, move ahead to an appellate court and then wait your turn. Easy-peasy.

Time Lord on June 30, 2014 at 10:11 AM

This means Hobby Lobby goes against us.
ConstantineXI on June 30, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Alito wouldn’t have written that one.

Akzed on June 30, 2014 at 10:11 AM

That’s absolutely correct…birth control is not your bosses business. So they have no reason to provide you with birth control…go out and get your own.

JetBoy on June 30, 2014 at 10:10 AM

AMEN

gophergirl on June 30, 2014 at 10:11 AM

Opinion here:

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/11-681_j426.pdf

lynncgb on June 30, 2014 at 10:11 AM

jake-the-goose on June 30, 2014 at 10:09 AM

That’s what they’ve mentioned over at SCOTUS blog.

lineholder on June 30, 2014 at 10:12 AM

The theory behind Harris is a joke too, requiring non-members to contribute to an organization created for the purpose of gathering contributions.

What sort of fascist prig justice would accept that as normal and legal, 4 of them actually supported it?

Bishop on June 30, 2014 at 10:12 AM

gophergirl on June 30, 2014 at 10:10 AM

If HL wins – the decision could still be very narrow.

Like – who pays for contraception.

jake-the-goose on June 30, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Really slow with the slip opinions today.

Blake on June 30, 2014 at 10:12 AM

On what should be 9-0 decisions, we are left mindful of NFIB v Sebelius, and now are left instead to pray. Abandon hope all you who enter the SC.

cthemfly on June 30, 2014 at 10:12 AM

If Alito writes for Big Daddy Gov’t to mandate private companies to pay for aborifacients……just no.

Grace_is_sufficient on June 30, 2014 at 10:12 AM

That’s what they’ve mentioned over at SCOTUS blog.

lineholder on June 30, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Thank you

jake-the-goose on June 30, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Justice Alito is now the de-facto Chief Justice. And that is great news.

Selkirk on June 30, 2014 at 10:09 AM

It’s interesting that Roberts assigned the Hobby Lobby case to Alito. Everyone thought Roberts would write it himself. Maybe he is gun-shy after all the blowback from last year’s Obamacare case (or maybe he’s just waiting to write the opinion in next year’s subsidy case, which hopefully will kill Obamacare dead).

AZCoyote on June 30, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Yeah, but do they get free contraceptives, too

jaywemm on June 30, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Who needs it?: http://www.nationallawjournal.com/image/EM/Clinton%20-%20Ruth%20Bader%20Ginsburg-Article-201406061119.jpg

davidk on June 30, 2014 at 10:13 AM

jake-the-goose on June 30, 2014 at 10:12 AM

It wasn’t about contraception…it was about abortifacients.

lineholder on June 30, 2014 at 10:13 AM

So the courts might actually conclude that employers have the right to dictate what employees are allowed to do with their compensation.

man oh man.

everdiso on June 30, 2014 at 10:06 AM

No, that’s only when you make political contributions to conservatives, then they can fire you for cause. In this case they overruled unions being allowed to require you to spend your money on the union.

Oh wait, you were thinking that not providing an abortion benefit is the same as telling people how to spend their money and benefits that are provided. Good Lord you’re delusional.

Fenris on June 30, 2014 at 10:13 AM

So the courts might actually conclude that employers have the right to dictate what employees are allowed to do with their compensation.

man oh man.

everdiso on June 30, 2014 at 10:06 AM

You have it exactly backwards.

gwelf on June 30, 2014 at 10:14 AM

Harris vs Quinn Decision

PolAgnostic on June 30, 2014 at 10:14 AM

So the courts might actually conclude that employers have the right to dictate what employees are allowed to do with their compensation.

man oh man.

everdiso on June 30, 2014 at 10:06 AM

You really are dumber than shite.

BuckeyeSam on June 30, 2014 at 10:14 AM

I predict: libs win both.

will77jeff on June 30, 2014 at 9:58 AM

Well, you are now batting .500, let’s hope you are wrong on both and not just one…no offense.

right2bright on June 30, 2014 at 10:14 AM

That’s absolutely correct…birth control is not your bosses business. So they have no reason to provide you with birth control…go out and get your own.

JetBoy on June 30, 2014 at 10:10 AM

Stop worrying about the details, they’re trying to make a larger point about taking it to the Man, or something.

Bishop on June 30, 2014 at 10:14 AM

I heard Alito will read for Hobby Lobby decision – that might mean that HL won

jake-the-goose on June 30, 2014 at 10:09 AM

It’s going to be interesting either way the gavel came down.

This Hobby Lobby case I’m torn on…on one hand, I believe birth control, unless it’s a health issue, should be an individual’s responsibility and not be required of any company insurance. On the other hand, a business in the public sector shouldn’t be using the religious faith of the owners to justify what to cover and what not to.

JetBoy on June 30, 2014 at 10:14 AM

Come on SCOTUS – I do need to work today

gophergirl on June 30, 2014 at 10:16 AM

Alito still reading majority decision – not known if Kagan will speak for minority

PolAgnostic on June 30, 2014 at 10:16 AM

C’mon, SCOTUS. Let’s go 6-3 on Hobby Lobby so that the shrill three can wail about the war on women.

BuckeyeSam on June 30, 2014 at 10:16 AM

5-4 in Harris with the typical 4 jacka$$es that worship the state thinking that the state can never be denied.

NotCoach on June 30, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Apparently they think that blatant graft on the backs of the poor is just fine and dandy.

Buck Farky on June 30, 2014 at 10:16 AM

It wasn’t about contraception…it was about abortifacients.

lineholder on June 30, 2014 at 10:13 AM

My point was a win for Hobby Lobby – could be very narrow

jake-the-goose on June 30, 2014 at 10:16 AM

Here is comes on Scotus Blog…

Grace_is_sufficient on June 30, 2014 at 10:17 AM

Kagan dissent in Harris is strongly critical of dicta re Abood’s supposed weaknesses.

PolAgnostic on June 30, 2014 at 10:17 AM

Anyone who receives a government benefit payment can now be considered a “Partial Government Employee?” Wow…

worldtvlr on June 30, 2014 at 10:17 AM

Boom

cozmo on June 30, 2014 at 10:17 AM

Win

jake-the-goose on June 30, 2014 at 10:17 AM

Hobby Lobby: Closely held corporations cannot be required to provide contraception coverage.

PolAgnostic on June 30, 2014 at 10:17 AM

Hobby Lobby wins!

NotCoach on June 30, 2014 at 10:17 AM

I wonder. Since the government at all levels has its hands (and our money) in so many different pies, just who ISN’T potentially a part-time government employee? Shouldn’t the pubic sector unions be demanding every working American (and every American on the dole) be contributing to the union?

MistyLane on June 30, 2014 at 10:17 AM

JetBoy on June 30, 2014 at 10:14 AM

So in other words, the business owner, the one who takes the economic risks in operating said business, should not have the right to make moral and/or ethical decisions based on their conscience?

lineholder on June 30, 2014 at 10:17 AM

yes yes yes yes!!!!!!!!!!!

Grace_is_sufficient on June 30, 2014 at 10:17 AM

***

On the other hand, a business in the public sector shouldn’t be using the religious faith of the owners to justify what to cover and what not to.

JetBoy on June 30, 2014 at 10:14 AM

You’re dead wrong.

BuckeyeSam on June 30, 2014 at 10:17 AM

So the courts might actually conclude that employers have the right to dictate what employees are allowed to do with their compensation.

man oh man.

everdiso on June 30, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Nobody has ever tried to prevent Hobby Lobby employees from spending their paychecks on abortions and/or abortion-causing drugs, if they choose. The issue here is whether or not the government has the power to force employers to pay for those things, and clearly that would violate their 1st Amendment rights.

AZCoyote on June 30, 2014 at 10:18 AM

Barry could be getting warmed up and ready to go out and whine about these decisions.

TarheelBen on June 30, 2014 at 10:18 AM

RFRA applies to regulations that govern the activities of closely held for-profit corporations like Conestoga, HL and Mardel.

PolAgnostic on June 30, 2014 at 10:18 AM

RFRA applies to regulations that govern the activities of closely held for-profit corporations like Conestoga, HL and Mardel.
by Amy Howe 10:17 AM
Comment – See more at: http://live.scotusblog.com/Event/Live_blog_of_opinions__June_30_2014#sthash.HkCX8BPc.dpuf

From the SCOTUS blog

22044 on June 30, 2014 at 10:18 AM

yes yes yes yes!!!!!!!!!!!

Grace_is_sufficient on June 30, 2014 at 10:17 AM

YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES

Thank you God

gophergirl on June 30, 2014 at 10:18 AM

Crowds cheering outside !!
Nothing said, yet !!

pambi on June 30, 2014 at 10:18 AM

Comment pages: 1 2 3 11