Kansas law professor says Hobby Lobby ruling isn’t about constitutionality

Jul 1, 2014

Credit wikipedia.org

Kansas was one of 18 states that sided with Hobby Lobby in the court battle over opting out of the inclusion of contraceptives in their insurance coverage.  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby saying certain employers can opt out of including contraceptives in their insurance because of religious beliefs.  The reaction in Kansas followed predictable ideological lines reported Bryan Thompson for Kansas Public Radio.

Gov. Sam Brownback and Attorney General Derek Schmidt called it a victory for religious freedom.  Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran expressed similar views. 

Richard Levy is a constitutional law expert at the University of Kansas.  He says the 5-4 ruling isn’t about constitutional principles.

“The court didn’t say that Hobby Lobby has a constitutional right in this regard, and it did not hold that provisions of the Affordable Care Act were unconstitutional,” says Levy.

Levy says the basis for the ruling is the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  The decision pertains only to closely held companies—defined by the IRS as those that are more than 50 percent owned by five or fewer individuals.  Levy says the court’s ruling could give companies an incentive to either remain closely held, or buy out publicly-traded shares to become a closely held corporation. 

You can hear the story by heading over to Kansas Public Radio.