Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Store, Inc. Court Case
Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 134 S.Ct. 2751, 2767 (2014) is a landmark court case in which the Supreme Court held that closely held for-profit organizations are exempted from the law that mandates employers to provide no-cost contraception coverage to their female employees. The majority affirmed the ruling arguing that the regulation propagated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) contravened the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993(RFRA) and should be struck down. The USSC jurisdiction is in tandem with the plaintiff’s argument that the requirement violated RFRA as well as the Free Exercise Clause stipulated under the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. RFTA stipulates that the federal government should not infringe religious exercise by imposing a substantial burden on a person. I find this case utterly riveting because I use contraception on a regular basis without the control of my employee. In my opinion, the ruling by the Supreme Court is stunningly destructive for women’s health and simply dismissive of women’s personal religious beliefs. This is because the pronouncement solidly jeopardizes my freedom as well as that of fellow female employees working for religious-based enterprises. I also find the recent stalemate of the Supreme Court utterly demeaning because it gives contemporary employers the power to regulate the reproductive rights of American citizens simply because they are not protected.
Why I Disagree with the Supreme Court Ruling
The decision was limited in scope because it was based on pure assertions and result-oriented reasoning. It failed to consider its implications on other healthcare services such as transfusions, transplants, and immunizations (Horwitz, 2014). Besides, the majority provides a skimpy legal analysis of the case to sustain the final verdict. Maintaining that RFRA warrants selected for-profit organizations the license to discriminate against their female employees create room for further scrutiny of central facts of the case and key legal principles applied by the court to overrule the employees’ right to contraceptive coverage. The majority presumably put much consideration on the gravity of the interests at stake and the compulsion of religious beliefs. As a result, the jury failed to address the significance of birth control for women’s health and the implication of the ruling on the course of their lives. They also assumed that there would be zero effect on women employees as a consequence of extending the accommodation offered by the government to nonprofit religious organizations (Horwitz, 2014). Justice Kennedy offered a concurring opinion underscoring the appropriateness of the accommodation asserting that it provides a recognizable, viable, existing, and already-implemented coverage framework. However, the effectiveness, appropriateness, contours, and nature of the accommodation were not even explained in court (Horwitz, 2014). It is apparent that the decision suffers from gross doctrinal flaws and presents a bitter pill for female employees to swallow.
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The judgment will create potential loopholes for for-profit organizations to bend the law and opt out of federal legislations that they find disagreeable for supposed religious reasons (Luchenitser, 2015). It is evident that the majority relied on the presence of religious beliefs to vindicate their verdict. Nonetheless, perceiving the belief as a substantial burden was another feasible alternative in finding factual predicates of the legal issue. The religious conviction by certain corporations that contraceptives are causations of abortion is scientifically and medically inaccurate. Additionally, the allegation that the provision of contraceptive cover for female employees imposes a substantial burden on the given organization is a serious slip-up.
Apparently, there was no tangible proof or a legal analysis of the burden claim presented in court to authenticate the allegations made by the corporations. Additionally, this case was marred with unpersuasive arguments that were meticulously articulated to circumvent justice and create room to dodge responsibilities (Luchenitser, 2015). In reality, the judgment demonstrated the jury’s lack of insight into the actual needs of employees. Accordingly, the court would have asked the companies to pay a small amount of tax to cover for their inability to subscribe to the contraceptive coverage requirement rather than clearing them at the expense of the employees, insurance firms, and the government.
The current precedent creates an uncertain future for coverage of women contraceptives by the government, insurance companies, and religious institutions whose regulatory mandate is to secure their employees’ health care entitlement (Horwitz, 2014). The decision leaves a vacillation over the accommodations and burdens of women contraception. It portrays birth control as an inconvenience for employers rather than a right and essential element of a woman’s healthcare. Additionally, the verdict takes back this legislation to the drawing board where employers and involved stakeholders can bargain over and refuse to be impugned. Also, the ruling does not address all the legal questions and challenges experienced by corporations with regard to health coverage. Besides, the ruling can be all-encompassing for all corporations since they all feel the need to entitle workers to contraceptives without incurring indemnity cost.
The ruling is a political controversy intended to depose ObamaCare. The Affordable Care Act, which came into effect in 2010, bequeathed HHS with the responsibility to determine the forms of contraception needed by women in all employment-based health plans (Hrwitz, 2014). After comprehensive research and consultations, the Institute of Medicine selected and recommended twenty contraceptives which would exclusively prevent fertilizations and implantation and were sanctioned by the FDA. The fact that all these contraceptives are FDA-approved means that they do not have side effects on the users. Therefore, religious beliefs should not be taken as a pretext to breach an all-encompassing legislation. Private companies already have an accommodation which permits them to choose the kind of coverage to and not to offer to their employees. As if this provision does not suffice, they will have the liberty to push the boundaries and ask for an exemption from more mandates such as health care services for LGBT workers promulgated under Obamacare. For instance, Wheaton College terminated health care coverage for students in contravention of the ACA contraceptive policy (Pashman, 2015). The Supreme Court displayed blatant ignorance in the decision which will permit enterprises to promote discrimination and culminate former the Obama legacy.
The verdict in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Store, Inc. case is important but unsurprising considering the Supreme Court also granted an emergency injunctive reprieve for accommodation to Wheaton College (Pashman, 2015). In fact, this pronouncement is a big win for religious liberty claimants. However, challenging the contraceptive coverage on religious grounds does not suffice to grant an amnesty that is likely to compromise a string of other critical legislations such as vaccines, minimum wage, and equal pay. The fact that the conclusion overrides the reproductive rights of an employed modern woman makes it stunningly destructive for women’s health and simply dismissive of their individual religious beliefs. This judgment marks a new era of inequality (Luchenister, 2015).
- Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 2751, 573 U.S., 189 L. Ed. 2d 675 (2014).
- Horwitz, P. (2014). The Hobby Lobby Moment. Retrieved from http://harvardlawreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/vol128_horwitz_comment.pdf
- Luchenister, A. J. (2015). A New Era of Inequality: Hobby Lobby and Religious Exemptions
- from Anti-Discrimination Laws. Harv. L. & Pol’y Rev., 9, 63.
- Pashman, M. (2015). Wheaton College ends coverage amid fight against birth control mandate.
- Retrieved from http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-wheaton-college-ends-student-insurance-met-20150728-story.html