The Slatest

Supreme Court Exempts Religious Companies From Obamacare Contraceptive Mandate

Protestors outside the Supreme Court this morning.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

By a 5-4 vote in the case of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, the Supreme Court ruled this morning that the federal government cannot require “closely held corporations”—businesses owned by a small group of people—to follow the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that employee health plans cover contraceptives if the use of contraceptives violates company owners’ religious beliefs.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion; he was joined by Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Anthony Kennedy, who wrote a supporting opinion. The ruling does not apply to publicly traded companies, and SCOTUSblog also notes that the decision allows the government to step in and cover the costs of contraceptives for women whose companies choose not to provide it. (Nonprofit organizations are already allowed to claim a religious exemption from the ACA mandate.)

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissenting opinion was joined by Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan, though Kagan and Breyer filed a separate opinion disagreeing with a specific point of Ginsburg’s interpretation. The Hobby Lobby decisions are available in full here.