WKU Professor: Supreme Court Breached a Wall with Contraception Ruling

Jun 30, 2014

A legal and constitutional historian at WKU believes the U.S. Supreme Court may have set a precedent with its ruling that some companies can refuse to offer contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act. 

The nation's highest court on Monday handed a legal victory to religious groups opposed to the mandate within the federal health care law. 

In a 5-4 decision, justices ruled that family-owned and other closely held corporations can be exempted from the contraception mandate. 

The decision  came in the case of Hobby Lobby, the largest employer that has gone to court to fight the birth control provision. 

"For the first time, in this opinion, the court holds that corporations are persons whose religious beliefs are protected by the Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act," Dr. Patti Minter told WKU Public Radio.  "The question becomes, for instance, whether or not a publicly traded company or the the board might adopt a position that they have a religious objection to a contraception mandate or another kind of mandate.  That's an issue not addressed in this opinion."

The court stressed that its ruling applies only to corporations that are under the control of just a few people in which there is no essential difference between the business and its owners. 

There are separate lawsuits challenging the contraception provision from religiously affiliated hospitals, colleges, and charities.