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Hobby Lobby's religious rights upheld against Obamacare

Religious rights of for-profit business recognized by court.
Religious rights of for-profit business recognized by court.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In a close call of 5-4, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby's conviction to opt out of Obamacare's requirement to provide contraceptives, specifically the abortion-inducing drugs, according to Fox News. This victory is the first time the court has recognized the religious rights of for-profit corporations.

The controversial contraceptives included Plan B and ella and intrauterine devices. Hobby Lobby is against abortion and believes it is morally wrong to provide such services to others. And since the HHS mandate requires companies to pay for these services, they object to this portion of Obamacare, according to the Becket Fund which represented them.

In essence, Hobby Lobby argued that providing for services for abortion was against their religious convictions as defended by the Constitution. Specifically, their argument is tied to the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which states "government shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability"

In essence, Hobby Lobby is arguing that even as a for-profit corporation, it is still a "person" for legal considerations of religious freedom.

The Obama administration argued that woman's health rights are at stake, according to the Daily News. The Supreme Court ruling notes another part of the government's argument: such a health mandate promotes a "compelling government interest" and is "essential to the comprehensive health-insurance scheme." As such, granting exemptions would undercut many woman's access to such a scheme.

The decision was made along predictable ideological lines. The majority of the court did not find a compelling interest for the government-enforced contraceptive mandate. They also stated that the current law is not the "least restrictive way to further its interest," especially since the HHS mandate already allows for exemptions.

The ruling may force the Obama administration to rework Obamacare to make up for any future deficiencies from other businesses that may apply for religious exemptions. The administration had already allowed for some religious exemptions for non-profit business previous to this court decision.

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