The Supreme Court on Tuesday devoted a double session to hear arguments on one of the most contentious pieces of the Affordable Care Act: the rule companies providing health care insurance to their employees include coverage for a range of contraception services.
Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood contend complying with the law would violate their owners’ religious principles, so the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) demands the government grant them an exception from the rule.
We think they are wrong.
Congress has wide authority to regulate the public marketplace ... But how much did Congress limit itself when it said, in RFRA, a person’s religious practices can be “substantially burdened” only when doing so is critical to pursuing a “compelling governmental interest?”
The government argues the court doesn’t even to get to that question. Even if corporations’ or their owners’ religious rights are implicated here, no one’s religious practices are being burdened to a “substantial” degree. ...
But let’s assume the court moves past that argument and addresses the question of what legal protections Congress meant to confer via RFRA. It ought to find the governmental interest in advancing its contraception rule is “compelling,” and its means are reasonable. Like it or not, most Americans with private insurance get it through their employers. ...
Under U.S. law, corporations get substantial privileges. Now, they are asked to take on responsibilities, such as providing decent health care coverage, with the aid of massive tax subsidies. Not every American of every creed will be comfortable with reasonable, general rules that extend across the marketplace ... but it’s not feasible for a corporation to opt out of any generally beneficial law that happens to offend its owners. That is a principle vital to maintaining a functional, pluralistic democracy.
— The Washington Post