The first thing to note is that this is not a First Amendment case. The Supreme Court did not find the mandate unconstitutional. Instead the Court found that, as applied to closely held family owned companies, the mandate did not meet the requirements of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of1993, which passed Congress with a nearly unanimous vote in both chambers. However, in 1997 the Court found that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was unconstitutional in its application to state laws.
The law on which this decision is based requires that when a person's religious beliefs are substantially burdened by a law of general applicability, the government may impose that burden only when it can show a compelling interest and then only by using the least restrictive available means. However, this requirement can only be applied to federal laws and not to state laws by the 1997 decision.
That last wrinkle will turn out to be important in this case since twenty-eight states have a contraception coverage mandate in their state insurance laws or regulations. Ordinarily a Court decision of this type would automatically invalidate those laws, but not in this instance where the decision is based on a law that can only apply to federal statutes.
Will Hobby Lobby have to sue in twenty-eight states? It's not clear at all what the implication of this decision will be for state mandates.
Presumably people who are working have the option to sign up for the insurance bought through the govt? If they didn't like the terms of health insurance from their employer, e.g. no birth control, they would have an alternative?
Based on my experience, I think the govt health insurance is probably lower quality than many insurance plans available through employers.
I'm 65. I have had health insurance of various kinds throughout my whole life. Never during reproductive years (until I had a vasectomy in the 90s) was birth control EVER covered on any of my plans. Birth control was a normal expense, not an insurance item. It's not like this is some crazy new concept.
What we really need is re-engineering of our legal structure to separate health insurance from employers. There is no real sense to that (I don't get my home or car insurance through my employer). If we separate healthcare from employer, we actually improve our freedom to choose jobs.
I think pushing this issue, right down to the 'no co-pay' clause was a tactical mistake.
Here's a rather level headed (secular) analysis from Wharton Business school
What we really need is re-engineering of our legal structure to separate health insurance from employers.
I made the same point.
I suspect that Obamacare was pushed through by means of a lot of compromises, and retaining that rather strange idea of employers providing health insurance was one of the compromises. Obama promised that "you can keep your current plan" (only usually, in reality).
He initially wanted single-payer but, the insurance lobby was too strong.
The insurance lobby is just as bad as , if not worse than, the NRA.
The insurance lobby agreed to the provision eliminating pre-existing conditions as a reason for denial because they were going to get so many new customers that it looked affordable to them. The plans that people can't keep are those that do not meet the standards of the affordable care act. Insurance companies have withdrawn those plans to a large extent voluntarily in advance of the ACA taking effect.
I was glad to read that the Freedom From Religion Foundation ran a full-page ad in today's New York Times excoriating the decision, and calling for the repeal of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. (Lots about the RFRA's unconstitutionality in FFRF's brief.)
"DOGMA SHOULD NOT TRUMP OUR CIVIL LIBERTIES"
"All-male, all-Roman-Catholic majority on Supreme Court puts religious wrongs over women's rights"
(Image from the Friendly Atheist article; click to embiggen)
Inspired by the Hobby Lobby decision, a group of religious leaders is calling on President Obama to include a religious exemption in his forthcoming executive order banning anti-LGBT discrimination by federal contractors.
To these religious leaders, Hobby Lobby ought to prompt the White House to reexamine the way it weights religious rights against other priorities. Liberals opposed to the decision, on the other hand, argue it creates a slippery slope to more and more carve-outs from important legislation for claims based on faith. This executive order could be the next battleground for those competing points of view.
Already the decision is prompting others to demand concessions that would exempt them from laws of general application. This was a bad decision that is getting worse.
So DO people who are offered health insurance through their employer, have the option to reject that health insurance and buy the insurance available through the govt instead?
And, are companies entitled to NOT offer health insurance to their employees?
Maybe the appropriate answer to Hobby Lobby is "OK, if you can't accept the legal standards for health insurance, you can't offer health insurance to your employees".
Not every employer offers health insurance to their employees...in all my adult life I have only worked for one company that did...JCPenney Co... Most of my employers were not large enough to have group insurance policies....
The only other large company I ever worked for was Holiday On Ice, and we were bloody lucky to have workers comp for injuries sustained on the ice. BFD. I sprained my ankle so badly that they sent me home, but since it did not happen during a rehearsal or a performance, I had to pay my own bills, and my doctor here at home was outraged....he said the ER should have put my ankle in a cast before they sent me to the airport..
Somebody brought up a pertinent subject...we do not expect our employers to provide homeowners, auto, or other forms of insurance. JCP did offer life insurance, but it was expensive, and few of us opted for it. The premiums for all the medical and life insurance were deducted from our paychecks...it was NOT a gift, or even considered part of our compensation. AND we had to be employed by JCP for two years before we were eligible.
After I left that company, they forced everyone to join an HMO....total disaster, especially when all the guys in my department started coming down with AIDS. Nobody wanted to treat them at all, and they all died.
Sounds like Hobby Lobby should be told they can't offer health insurance, since they have moral objections to health insurance that meets the legal requirements.