What the Hobby Lobby Decision Means

Obama vows to work with Congress to circumvent it
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2014 1:22 PM CDT
Updated Jun 30, 2014 1:58 PM CDT
What the Hobby Lobby Decision Means
Demonstrator react to hearing the Supreme Court's decision on the Hobby Lobby case outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, June 30, 2014.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The Supreme Court delivered another explosive decision today, ruling that closely-held corporations like Hobby Lobby can duck ObamaCare's mandate to provide insurance that covers birth control. Here's what the immediate reaction has been among pundits and politicians:

  • Conservatives rushed to embrace the decision. "The Court has made clear today that the Obama administration's assault on religious freedom in this case went too far," Bobby Jindal said in a statement. Mitch McConnell took a similar tack, according to Politico, saying that the administration "cannot trample on the religious freedoms that Americans hold dear."
  • But Jack Jenkins at Think Progress argues that the ruling "actually hurts people of faith," and that mainstream and progressive religious thinkers have largely opposed Hobby Lobby, arguing that businesses should not be said to hold religious beliefs, and that opposing contraception will lead to more abortions.
  • "Chief Justice John Roberts' court is shaping up to be pretty darn protective of that free exercise clause," observes the Religion News Service; in multiple cases now it has supported religious rights over other rights. Still, the court made clear that the next such case might be different, and that "religion should not always trump the law."
  • It's for that last reason that Mark Joseph Stern at Slate thinks the ruling was "surprisingly good for gays." Many had feared that a pro-Hobby Lobby ruling would allow corporations to, say, fire gay workers on religious grounds. But Justice Alito's majority opinion specifically said that the ruling could not be used to shield "discrimination in hiring" as a "religious practice to escape legal sanction," and Anthony Kennedy clarified that this included anti-gay discrimination.
  • The White House responded to the decision by urging Congress to take action to help women affected by the decision, the AP reports, and Harry Reid vowed to do just that. "If the Supreme Court will not protect women's access to health care, then Democrats will," he promised, according to Roll Call.
  • Democrats believe the GOP reaction will "reinforce overall perceptions of the right as hostile to women," one pollster tells Politico. But GOP strategists are convinced this is a win for them, because they can now say that Obama overreached on religious freedom. Besides, as one ad maker says, "Anytime ObamaCare is in the news, it's a good thing for Republicans."
  • But don't expect a huge political fallout. Americans don't seem entirely sure how they feel about the contraception mandate, notes Aaron Blake at the Washington Post, citing three separate polls that show support for it ranging anywhere from 40% to 66%. That "suggests that Americans' opinions on the topic are quite malleable and—by extension—pretty soft."
(More US Supreme Court stories.)

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