U.S. Supreme Court Rules that Closely Held Corporations have Religious Rights

The U.S. Supreme Court in Burwell v Hobby Lobby, ruled that closely held corporations have religious freedom. The opinions indicates that to get those freedoms the corporation must be owned by a family or a close group so that the religious freedoms of the individuals is part and parcel with the company.  This has negative implications for employees who work for small companies because the religious freedom of the owners trumps the religious rights of the employees. This case involved a companies right to not provide birth control to women because of the owners religious beliefs.  What if a business owner believes that women with children should stay at home and not work?  Will their religious rights trump the woman’s right to work without discrimination?  Let’s hope not.  This opinion was a 5/4 split between the Courts conservative republican members and more liberal democratic members.  Replicants in congress have praised this opinion in support of corporations rights over those of workers and women.  This opinion and the Republican parties endorsement of the option will certainly move the Republican Party out of the main stream of American ideas and will make them seem anti employee and anti-woman.  With a 5/4 decision it takes just one change in a justice to flip the Court back to the mainstream from the radical right anti-employee position.   Justice Ginsburg wrote the dissent for the 4 dissenting Justices.

Here are seven key quotes from Ginsburg’s dissent in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby:

  • “The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would…deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs access to contraceptive coverage”
  • “Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community.”
  • “Any decision to use contraceptives made by a woman covered under Hobby Lobby’s or Conestoga’s plan will not be propelled by the Government, it will be the woman’s autonomous choice, informed by the physician she consults.”
  • “It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month’s full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage.”
  • “Would the exemption…extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations[?]…Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today’s decision.”
  • “Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be ‘perceived as favoring one religion over another,’ the very ‘risk the [Constitution’s] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.”
  • “The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”
Scroll to Top