April 11, 2015 / 2014 / June / Reaction to the Supreme Court Decision i...

Reaction to the Supreme Court Decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby

submitted June 30, 2014 by Matthew Ellis   |   comments
<h1>Reaction to the Supreme Court Decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby</h1>

Prediction: The Supreme Court will rule the birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and the attempts to create a barrier between patient/employer premiums and the insurance coverage are sufficient to meet the law. -Matthew Ellis, June 20, 2014

Yes, that was my prediction and it was proven wrong in no uncertain terms. I have been trying to determine how the Court could possibly find that the ‘religious views’ of a company owned by a few people are more valid than the views of their thousands of employees.

Unfortunately, this decision hit on a day when I was jammed with meetings and unable to dive into the decision. So, while I continue to gather information and formulate my thoughts, I’d like to give an initial reaction by suggesting some reading and by asking questions that the verdict raises for me (and others). First, the questions:


  1. “How does the Court divine which religious beliefs are worthy of accommodation and which are not?” -Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

  2. The most straightforward way of doing this would be for the Government to assume the cost of providing the four contraceptives at issue to any women who are unable to obtain them under their health-insurance policies due to their employers’ religious objections. [p. 47, Opinion of the Court]

    Is the Supreme Court endorsing the public option?

  3. Was the court so overly-focused on the potential indirect violation of religious freedoms of one set of Americans that they forgot to consider the actual religious freedoms of millions of others? -Rabbi Daniel Brenner

  4. Would the exemption the Court holds RFRA demands for employers with religiously grounded objections to the use of certain contraceptives 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 (Christian Scientists), among others)? -Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

  5. To what degree does an employer retain religious rights to employee compensation? Why is it acceptable for an employee to use cash from an employer to purchase these contraceptives but not insurance benefits? In either case, isn't the employer contributing to the same behavior? In the instance of health insurance, isn't the employer's contribution more removed than when the employee pays directly? 

  6. This decision seems to concentrate power for individual health decisions in the hands of the few. How does this respect the views of the individual employee? Why do the employer's religious views trump those of the employee in determining their own health care treatment?

  7. How are religious beliefs for a nonphysical entity determined? How are they changed? What is the statement and where can can it be found? How can a potential employee discover this without prejudicing the hiring process against themselves?

Further Reading: