U.S.

Hobby Lobby Lawyer: Ruling's Scope Is Limited

Joshua Hawley, part of Hobby Lobby's legal team, said the White House had other options for covering types of contraception that amounted to abortion.

Hobby Lobby Lawyer: Ruling's Scope Is Limited
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‚ÄčThe Supreme Court handed a huge win to Hobby Lobby and conservatives fighting the president’s healthcare reform law Tuesday — that much is clear. (Flickr / Mark Fischer, Nicholas Eckhart)

Less clear is the scope of the ruling — and what avenues it could open to other claims of religious exemption from for-profit companies.

JEFFREY TOOBIN: "Prior to today, we didn't even know corporations had freedom of religious views … and they are going to exercise those rights to cut away from paying for stuff that they don’t want to pay for." (Via CNN)

Writing for the four-justice minority opinion, Justice Ginsburg said businesses could now object to "health coverage of vaccines" or, for example, blood transfusions on claims of religious liberty.

But a member of Hobby Lobby’s legal team argues …

JOSHUA HAWLEY: "Yeah, a business could make those claims but are highly unlikely to succeed under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. And the reason is the government can still burden a business' or a business owner's religious faith if the government can show that it has a compelling interest and it has pursued that interest by the least restrictive means."

Joshua Hawley was one of the attorneys representing Hobby Lobby. We spoke to him in his office a few hours after the ruling came down about what the case means for businesses and for the future of the First Amendment. (Via YouTube / Darin RebootCongress)

HAWLEY: "Here's what the ruling comes down to in my book. It basically says that the government cannot tell you what your moral beliefs have to be, that you should be able to form your own moral beliefs and take them into the workplace or the public, wherever."

But the administration and those who sided with it in this case say the court is taking religious rights meant for a person and giving them to a corporation. (Via WJLA)

"It's a novel interpretation of personhood. … Isn't it convenient that a corporation is only religious when it benefits the employers, without concern for what effect it might have on the employees." (Via MSNBC)

The administration will now have to find some other way to pay for the types of contraceptive care for women Hobby Lobby objected to. The company's legal team argued The White House had plenty of options, but making businesses pay for them shouldn’t be one of them.

HAWLEY: "You know, Hobby Lobby pays for 16 out of the 20 forms of contraception that are available in the United States already. … Those four forms of contraception that can cause an abortion — that's what's at issue in this case — the government has alternative means to make those available to women without cost."

Tuesday afternoon, The White House said the ruling created an unfair hurdle for women seeking full health coverage.

JOSH EARNEST: "Today's decision jeopardizes the health of women who are employed by these companies."

It’s a line Democrats will likely make the most of between now and mid-term elections in November. After all, they believe they have the public on their side in this debate. (Via The White House)

In a Reuters / Ipsos poll released Sunday, only 35 percent agreed that employers should be able to choose what forms of contraceptives their health plans provide based on their religious beliefs. (Via Politico)