Hobby Lobby & Harris v. Quinn

sctbldgOn the last day of the term, Monday, June 30th, the United States Supreme Court handed down two decisions:  Burrell v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Harris v. Quinn.

In a 5-4 opinion , the Court held in Hobby Lobby that “…the HHS contraceptive mandate is unlawful”  under the standards prescribed by the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. Section 2000bb.  On this basis, the Court concluded that it was unnecessary to reach the First Amendment claim advanced.  Justice Alito wrote the majority opinion and was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Scalia and Thomas.  Justice Kennedy concurred, drafting a separate opinion.  Justice Ginsberg drafted a dissenting opinion that Justice Sotomayor joined.  Justices Breyer and Kagan partially joined Justice Ginsberg’s dissent but also drafted their own dissents.

In Harris v. Quinn, the Court again split 5-4 with Justice Alito writing the majority opinion.  Justice Kagan drafted the dissenting opinion.  According to the majority, “[t]his case presents the question whether the First Amendment permits a State to compel personal care providers to subsidize speech on matters of public concern by a union that they do not wish to join or support. We hold that it does not, and we therefore reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals.”    According to the New York Times, Justice Alito concluded that these individuals were partial public employees .

For more information about the Supreme Court’s 2013 term and data, check out Kedar Bhatia’s Final Stat Pack for the October Term on the SCOTUS blog.

 

About Lisa Smith-Butler

Associate Professor of Law Charleston School of Law 385 Meeting St., Suite 322B Charleston, S.C. 29403 843.377.2144
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