The Supreme Court issued a ruling on Monday that distinguishes for the first time that business entities can have religious rights and those with religious objections cannot be required to pay for the contraceptives of their employees thus allowing them to avoid the contraceptive requirement under Obamacare.
The decision of the high court is a victory for the families who own the cabinet making company Conestoga and the Hobby Lobby arts and crafts who contested the contraceptive requirement of the Affordable Care Act which requires employers to provide a full range of contraceptives to their female employees.
Although the owners of the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga are willing to provide for most contraceptive methods, they are not amenable to devices and drugs such as the "morning-after pill" that are claimed to work after fertilization has occurred and which the companies consider to be tantamount to abortion.
The two companies argued that the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act violates the First Amendment and other laws that upholds religious freedom and forces them to either violate their faith or pay for the fines.
The ruling would mean that the Obama administration should look for other options to provide free contraception to women who are covered by the objecting companies' health insurance plans and may also apply to other companies that are not willing to shoulder any of the contraceptive methods that have been green-lighted by the federal government.
Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the 5-4 opinion, however, said that the decision only applies to contraceptives and closely held corporations. He emphasized that the companies involved are each owned and controlled by families whose sincerity to their religious beliefs has not been disputed.
"Our decision should not be understood to hold that an insurance coverage mandate must necessarily fall if it conflicts with an employer's religious beliefs," Alito said. "Other coverage requirements, such as immunizations, may be supported by different interests and may involve different arguments about the least restrictive means of providing them."
In order for the government to deal with the issues of birth control, Alito said it may opt to shoulder the cost of pregnancy prevention or give the same accommodation it has given to religious companies that are not for profit.
The four dissenting justices contended that the ruling could pave way for religious-based challenges that could limit a person's rights and choice with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg saying that the decision would pose a disadvantage to employees who do not share the same religious beliefs as their employer.