Since last October, legal professionals and business leaders have been watching and waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to hand down their decision one of the most high-profile business law cases in recent years.
Late in June, on the very last day in the current term. the high court published its its ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. The issue: whether a closely-held, for-profit corporation could refuse based on the private owners’ personal religious convictions against birth control, to offer contraception coverage to its employees as mandated from the federal regulations if the 2010 Affordable Care Act. By way of a razor-thin, 5-4, majority vote, the Supreme Court answered that could.
The 4 dissenting justices disagreed, strenuously, on both the end result and the rationale. However, people and media attention that has been given to this significant Supreme Court opinion has almost overshadowed the truth that – for many small and mid-sized businesses – it can have no impact in any way.
Your Decision in a Nutshell – Two families, the Hahns as well as the Greens, own an overall of three companies. The Hahns along with their children own and control Conestoga Wood Specialties (cabinets), as the Greens along with their children own and control each of the Hobby Lobby holiday hours. Among the Greens’ sons also owns an affiliated Christian bookstore chain.
Though these for-profit businesses fulfill the concept of “closely held” corporations which is, (five or fewer shareholders) they are hardly what most people would consider to be small enterprises. The Hobby Lobby chain operates some 500 locations nationwide with almost 13,000 employees. The bookstore firm, Mardel, has about 35 stores and a few 400 employees. Conestoga has about 950 employees.
The families argued the Health & Human Services Department regulations mandating birth control coverage violated their rights under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and also the First Amendment. Among the many, complex issues decided was whether a for-profit company could “engage in religious exercise.”
Five in the justices (Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito) ruled these families’ rights are violated from the contraception mandate, that it “substantially burdened their exercise of religion,” and that HHS “had not demonstrated a compelling desire for enforcing the mandate against them,” or proved that this mandate was the “least restrictive means” of furthering a compelling governmental interest.
Justice Samuel Alito, writing for your majority, revealed that this ruling “… put on closely held corporations” and, in a concurring opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy noted that it must be supposed to have been a narrow in scope.
The Reasons Businesses Will Be Unaffected From This Ruling. Legally, this decision does not apply to the majority of American businesses and, particularly, on family-owned firms. First, there is no “employer mandate” at all underneath the Affordable Care Act for any business with fewer than 50 employees. These firms happen to be exempt and possess no requirement to provide workers with any health insurance coverage in any way. Furthermore, while the great most of small companies in the usa (about 78%) are family owned, no more than 2 percent of small enterprises have 50 or maybe more employees.
So, for most closely held corporations, this Supreme Court case, however newsworthy, is not relevant. Second, just before the passage and implementation from the Affordable Care Act, nearly all businesses, including small and midsized firms, already offered the mandated contraceptive coverage. Over 70% of all U.S. employers not affiliated with religious institutions included birth control inside their company health plans. Even for businesses with fewer than 200 employees, that figure was over 60%.
Third, the Affordable Care Act already exempts religious for-profit corporations as well as nonprofit corporations out of this coverage mandate.
For Affected Companies, You will find Broad Implications – This ruling will affect a somewhat few closely held corporations whose private owners elect to assert which they hold “sincerely held religious beliefs” against contraception. However, wjdqpc Court’s majority opinion will not be exactly clear how these religious convictions should be measured or proved.
In her own blistering dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg predicted that the opinion could eventually allow “businesses to opt away from any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Other critics, including many legal experts, are involved about its broader implications, and what they describe as a “slippery slope” of possible religious challenges to a wide array of government regulations.