It’s been an inauspicious Supreme Court term for the Obama administration. First SCOTUS overturned Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, pointing out that Congress and not the President decides when Congress is in recess. Now today the Supreme Court has ruled that Hobby Lobby can’t be forced to provide contraception coverage in their health care plans.
But it’s only a narrow victory for Hobby Lobby and opponents of Obamacare. The Supreme Court did not toss out the insurance mandate in its entirety, but only ruled that closely-held corporations (i.e. family-owned businesses, etc.) can claim a religious exemption.
This would mean that Hobby Lobby can get an exemption, but probably not a publicly-traded company like, say, Target.
You can read the full opinion here. Justice Alito, writing for the majority, specifically rejects the idea that giving businesses an exemption from this mandate denies women access to birth control. He notes that women would still have access to all FDA-approved contraception, but they’d just have to pay for it themselves (no cost sharing with their employer).
Justice Kennedy filed a concurring opinion which makes an interesting point. He argues that if the federal government is so bent on providing this coverage to women, why don’t they just provide it through a government program rather than forcing the private sector to do it?
The answer, of course, is politics. Obamacare wouldn’t have passed as a government insurance program. Mandating private insurance coverage, both for individuals and employers, the aspects of which are controlled by the government was an end-run around America’s staunch opposition go a government health care system.