Since last October, authorized experts and business leaders have been watching and waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to hand down their decision just about the most high-profile business law cases recently.
Late in June, on the very last day in the current term. the top court published its its ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. The matter: whether a closely-held, for-profit corporation could refuse based on the private owners’ personal religious convictions against birth control, to supply contraception coverage to its employees as mandated by the federal regulations when 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 the effect and the rationale. However, the general public and media attention that has been given to this significant Supreme Court opinion has almost overshadowed the veracity that – for most small and mid-sized businesses – it can have zero impact at all.
The Decision in a Nutshell – Two families, the Hahns as well as the Greens, own a total of three companies. The Hahns along with their children own and control Conestoga Wood Specialties (kitchen cabinets), whilst the Greens and their children own and control all the storeholidayhours.org. One of the Greens’ sons also owns an affiliated Christian bookstore chain.
Though these for-profit businesses fulfill the concept of “closely held” corporations that is, (five or fewer shareholders) they may be hardly what most people would consider to be small businesses. The Hobby Lobby chain operates some 500 locations nationwide with almost 13,000 employees. The bookstore firm, Mardel, has about 35 stores and some 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 the First Amendment. One of many, complex issues decided was whether a for-profit company could “engage in religious exercise.”
Five from the justices (Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito) ruled that these particular families’ rights are violated from the contraception mandate, that it “substantially burdened their exercise of religion,” and this HHS “had not demonstrated a compelling fascination with 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 that majority, indicated that this ruling “… put on closely held corporations” and, in a concurring opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy noted that it is intended to be a narrow in scope.
The Reasons Businesses Is Going To Be Unaffected From This Ruling. Legally, this decision fails to pertain to the majority of American businesses and, particularly, on family-owned firms. First, there is not any “employer mandate” in any way under the Affordable Care Act for any business with fewer than 50 employees. These firms happen to be exempt and also have no requirement to offer workers with any medical health insurance coverage whatsoever. Furthermore, as the great most of small enterprises in the United States (about 78%) are family owned, just about 2 percent of small companies have 50 or even more employees.
So, for most closely held corporations, this Supreme Court case, however newsworthy, is not really relevant. Second, even before the passage and implementation in the Affordable Care Act, nearly all businesses, including small and midsized firms, already offered the mandated contraceptive coverage. Over 70% of all the U.S. employers not connected to religious institutions included birth control inside their company health plans. Even for businesses with less than 200 employees, that figure was over 60%.
Third, the Affordable Care Act already exempts religious for-profit corporations along with nonprofit corporations out of this coverage mandate.
For Affected Companies, You can find Broad Implications – This ruling will affect a somewhat small number of closely held corporations whose private owners elect to assert which they hold “sincerely held religious beliefs” against contraception. However, wjdqpc Court’s majority opinion is not exactly clear how these religious convictions are to be measured or proved.
In her blistering dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg predicted that the opinion could eventually allow “businesses to opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible making use of their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Other critics, including many legal experts, are concerned about its broader implications, and whatever they describe being a “slippery slope” of possible religious challenges to a wide array of government regulations.