Supreme Court: closely-held corporations with religious objections are exempt from Obamacare contraception mandate

Key holdings of today's 5-4 decision: corporations are entitled to protection under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act; requiring closely-held corporations to pay for contraception despite their owners' have sincere religious objections  is a substantial burden on religious freedom; government's program is not narrowly tailored.

However, the majority opinion suggests that the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) solution to accommodating religious non-profits while providing contraceptive coverage for their employees could be extended to closely-held for-profits with religious objections:

HHS has already devised and implemented a system that seeks to respect the religious liberty of religious nonprofit corporations while ensuring that the employees of these entities have precisely the same access to all FDA-approved contraceptives as employees of companies whose owners have no religious objections to providing such coverage. The employees of these religious non-profit corporations still have access to insurance coverage without cost sharing for all FDA-approved contraceptives; and according to HHS, this system imposes no net economic burden on the insurance companies that are required to provide or secure the coverage. Although HHS has made this system available to religious nonprofits that have religious objections to the contraceptive mandate, HHS has provided no reason why the same system cannot be made available when the owners of for-profit corporations have similar religious objections. We therefore conclude that this system constitutes an alternative that achieves all of the Government’s aims while providing greater respect for religious liberty. And under RFRA, that conclusion means that enforcement of the HHS contraceptive mandate against the objecting parties in these cases is unlawful.

Read the full decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby here.

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