Friday, November 6, 2015

Hobby Lobby 2.0?

Protest as a result of last year's Court decision.

Earlier today, the Supreme Court decided to hear another case related to religious organizations and birth control. Clearly, this is relevant to the case we discussed in class Burwell v. Hobby Lobby from 2014. The Court agreed to hear seven different appeals cases from lower courts, in which there were conflicting decisions. They will be consolidated, and probably referred to as Zubik v. Burwell.

As you probably recall, as a result of the Hobby Lobby decision, religious organizations must provide proof of their religious beliefs in a letter or by filling out a form. However, some religious groups are arguing that even the requirement to fill out that form is a violation of their religious rights, because they are still implicitly allowing employees to receive birth control through a third party.

The Court has requested a combined brief from the lawyers of all seven cases. This case is likely to be heard around March of next year and decided by June. Do you think that these new cases present a valid argument? Do you think that the Court will decide this case similarly to Hobby Lobby from just last year?

Sources:
Photo
Washington PostNY TimesHuffington Post

1 comment:

Jonathan Liu said...

The petitioners argue that by opting out of providing coverage on contraceptives for its employees, they allow the government to provide the coverage instead, which still makes them indirectly liable for "encouraging'" abortion, which goes against their religion.
I'm not religious so perhaps I'm not the most qualified to discuss this, but I personally feel that this argument is a stretch. I understand the companies not wanting to provide the coverage themselves, because they'd be paying for things they don't believe in. However, the government has still decided that it wants to provide coverage for every woman that wants it, and its actions should not reflect on the companies that are opting out. Furthermore, if the company's employees share the religious beliefs, they are free to not make use of the coverage; there is no money lost by any party if the employee does not need the coverage. The reason that this is such a difficult argument is the conflict between the government not wanting to encourage a specific religion, while at the same time not wanting to discriminate against a religion. However, I believe that if the government does end up allowing the companies to opt their employees out of even the government coverage, it would be granting too high of a privilege to them for their specific religious beliefs. As a result, I personally believe that the government's current ruling has no reason to be overturned.
One thing I think is interesting to note, however, is that the Supreme Court did decide to hear this case even though Burwell v. Hobby Lobby was tried only last year and the justices are the same, which implies that at least four of the justices believe that the case's outcome could potentially be different. If every justice believed that the outcome would not change, they would have no reason to try this case.