It is all as Dr. J. has foretold. The Supreme Court upheld the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 5-4. Dr. J. expected more intellectual honesty from the ladies (and Mr. Breyer) of the court, resulting in a 7-2 or 8-1 margin given their prior decisions regarding the Obama Administrations encroachments on religious liberty. But, alas, their ovaries were in a knot over reproductive rights, and that penumbra, in their eyes, overshadowed the First Amendment to the Constitution.
For Dr. J., the issue is open and shut. The HHS mandate violates the first amendment, PERIOD.
A private business or corporation, should not be compelled to purchase something for employees that goes against the conscience of the owner/employer.
When you do the thought experiment about a business, or a corporation, this becomes readily clear. If Dr. J.’s self-employed, he has to buy health insurance to cover his wife and children. Obviously he isn’t going to buy a plan that runs counter to his conscience.
Similarly, if he hires a clerk, a nurse and an EKG/Echo Tech, he is not required to provide insurance (by law), however he could still decide to do so (it’s good business) and it would stand to reason that he could say, “Hey, you’re on your own for contraceptive services, however, they’re cheap and I’m paying you well, so what’s your business is your business.”
If Dr. J. expands his booming practice to adding a several partners, and their support staff, bringing his group size up to 51, he’s now obliged to offer insurance. He’s built this business up from a solo practice but it’s still his baby. Is there any magical reason why he has to pay for contraception? He has a number of specialized personnel he’s hired, he’s paying most of his folk mid-five figures (nurses and techs) to six figures (doctors), others are low 5 figures (clerks). Nevertheless, they can afford the out of pocket cost of contraception given that they have jobs.
Do you see where he’s going? Let’s say Dr. J. opens a chain of clinics (think the Urgent Care clinic model) and the number booms from 51, to 950, and from 950 to 10,000. Is there a magic number where there is an obligation upon him to pay for contraceptive services, where his values and religious rights are no longer protected?
The answer is no.
That’s the point. Dr. J. built this theoretical business, and despite what Obama says, and so did Conestoga Wood and Hobby Lobby.
Alito, as has been the trend with the Roberts Court, kept what appears to to be a rather tight strike zone for the ruling.
Ed Whelan nicely summarizes the high points of the opinion.
Alito basically said that the regulations meet a substantial burden for the plaintiffs and flunks the least restrictive means burden. This, as a consequence.
He does not opine on the upcoming decision regarding the so-called accommodation. Nor does he expand the decision to publicly traded companies (for which another lawsuit would rightfully be required), suggesting that A) it is not the case before them, and B) Probably would never be a case before them. It also does not go beyond the issue of contraception, or apply to life saving therapies such as blood transfusions.
Dr. J. thinks that Alito got it right, more or less. The opinion was a little narrower than Dr. J. would have liked, but he’s no constitutional scholar.
Jay Carney’s replacement commented on the decision:
Earnest said that the president “believes strongly in the freedom of religion,” noting that accommodations have been made for religious institutions and non-profit religious organizations who have religious objections to contraceptive care. “But we believe that the owners of for-profit companies should not be allowed to assert their personal religious views to deny their employees federally mandated benefits,” he said. – (From NRO)
Loosely translated, the president believes in Freedom of Religion except when it is in contradiction to state imposed regulations. The late Sun King could not be reached for comment.