Did Hobby Lobby Ruling Open a Pandora's Box?

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June 30 (Bloomberg) -- Columbia Law School's Kara Loewentheil discusses the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that closely held companies can refuse on religious grounds to offer birth-control coverage to their workers. She speaks with Mark Crumpton on "Bottom Line." (Source: Bloomberg)

The first amendment to the united states constitution is clear, congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Weren't the plaintiffs in this case just exercising religious freedom?

I really don't think so.

It depends on how you define religious freedom.

One of the things that is clear in this case is that the burden claimed by the plaintiffs is very attenuated.

Although they were being required to do was provide contraceptive coverage that might or might not be used down the line by an employee in consultation with a doctor on their own moral or health needs.

It is not the direct exercise.

It is not about how they worship or anything closely connected to their freedoms of religion.

How does this expand the rights of for-profit companies?

We will have to see how that plays out.

The majority opinion said that it was leaving those decisions to the future but that it did open the door, so now we know that corporations like these companies in question have religious exercise rights under the religious freedom restoration act.

The opinion did not answer the constitutional questions, so we don't yet know if that would be extended to other corporations with shareholders or what other kinds of religious burdens are being claimed or might be allowed or not allowed.

There is still a lot up in the air.

My colleague, megan hughes, was just telling us about the dissent from ruth bader ginsburg , who took it as a right to read the dissent from the bench, saying that the court has ventured into a minefield.

Does the decision open up the door for employer objections to other types of health care coverage?

Is there a chance that religion will be part of a publicly traded companies employee benefit plans?

It is a pandora's box.

Even though the majority opinion left a lot to be decided, the questions are now open.

The publicly traded question is a separate one the court did not reach, but the logic of the opinion that certainly extend to health care coverage, coverage for vaccines and blood transfusions for people with allegis objections to those kinds of services, it could open the door to other kinds of objections some other kinds of workplace regulations that ensure employee safety, lgbt a quality, job discrimination, that kind of thing.

Speaking with tara loewen tile, what is the impact on women, this decision?

It will depend a lot on how congress reacts to the decision.

One of the things the supreme court said was that the accommodations offered by the administration to religiously affiliated nonprofits where they can certify that they object to providing this coverage, the insurance company then has to cover it at no cost, that was an alternative.

One thing we will have to see is how the administration react.

Will that be extended?

Will they provide this themselves?

It is a big economic burden.

Birth control can cost hundreds of dollars per year.

Some of the best kinds are covered by today's decisions, like intrauterine devices.

Studies show that when women have access to those options, they prefer them, but it can cost a thing 800 dollars and $1000 up front.

We have a little bit less than a minute.

Today's ruling, how does it reshape the role that religion plays in a secular society?

The important take away is that it gives enormous rats to religious business owners to decide what counts on a burden -- as a burden and what counts on religious exercise, showing a thing that most would not think of as part of your religious exercise, like the health care that you cover in your insurance being up for debate.

I think we might see a lot of resistance to other forms of health and safety regulations and discrimination regulations.

X thank you for joining us in the newsroom.

I appreciate it.

This text has been automatically generated. It may not be 100% accurate.


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