News Law and Policy

Supreme Court Indicates ‘Hobby Lobby’ Ruling Reaches Entire Birth Control Benefit

Jessica Mason Pieklo

In a series of orders issued Tuesday, the Supreme Court let stand lower court rulings upholding religious objections to providing any contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Read more of our coverage on the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cases here.

Just one day after announcing its decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that for-profit companies can assert religious objections to the birth control benefit in the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. Supreme Court all but confirmed its decision applies broadly to the contraceptive coverage requirement and not simply the limited number of contraceptive methods Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood objected to in their litigation.

In a series of orders issued Tuesday, the Roberts Court sentsix cases back to the federal courts to reconsider rulings in light of its decision in Hobby Lobby. In three cases, federal appeals courts had rejected challenges to the birth control benefit. In those cases, the Supreme Court ordered the appellate courts to take another look at their conclusions in light of the Roberts Court ruling that for-profit companies can assert religious objections under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

In three other cases, federal appellate courts had ruled in favor of for-profit business owners. In those cases, the Supreme Court denied review, leaving stand the appeals courts’ decisions in favor of the businesses.

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Among the cases that will be reconsidered is the Eden Foods case involving a Michigan organic foods company whose owner claimed a religious objection to all forms of contraceptive coverage. In an interview with Irin Carmon in April 2013, owner Michael Potter quipped the reason he was filing a suit was “[b]ecause I’m a man, number one and it’s really none of my business what women do.” Potter followed with: “Because I don’t care if the federal government is telling me to buy my employees Jack Daniel’s or birth control. What gives them the right to tell me to do that?”

Each of the orders issued Tuesday involved religious objections to all forms of contraceptive services covered under the Affordable Care Act.

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