Podcast: The Court’s Hobby Lobby decision

The Supreme Court has finally ruled in the Hobby Lobby case, and Ilya Shapiro from the Cato Institute and David H. Gans from the Constitutional Accountability Center join our We The People podcast series to analyze a big decision about religious rights for corporations.


To the surprise of some, it was Associate Justice Samuel Alito who read the majority opinion, which said on a narrow basis that closely held for-profit companies didn’t have to provide contraception coverage to employees under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The companies were allowed to cite a religious objection.

To the surprise of few people, it was Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who offered a spirited dissent, challenging the majority’s contention that was decision was narrow.

In the 5-4 decision, Alito said the closely held corporations cannot be required to provide contraception coverage under Obamacare if they voiced religious objections under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

RFRA was at the heart of the Court’s decision, which was in fact about two family-owned companies, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, and their owners’ religious objections to part of the Obamacare contraception mandate that forced companies to offer birth control products viewed as proxies for abortions.

It is important to note that the Court only ruled on RFRA in the case, and not on First Amendment arguments made in front of the Justices.

Joining us to discuss the cases are two old friends of the We The People podcast series.

Ilya Shapiro is a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute and editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review. Ilya has filed more than 100 “friend of the court” briefs in the Supreme Court.

David H. Gans is Director of the Human Rights, Civil Rights, and Citizenship Program at the Constitutional Accountability Center. David has also served as Program Director of Cardozo Law School’s Floersheimer Center for Constitutional Democracy.

To listen to the full podcast, use the player below or click on the following link: Download this episode (right click and save)

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