Free Exercise of Religion by Closely Held Corporations: Implications of 'Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.' [November 12, 2015] [open pdf - 579KB]
"A 5-4 decision, issued over a highly critical dissent, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. resolved one of the many challenges raised in response to the contraceptive coverage requirement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Imputing the beliefs of owners of closely held corporations to such corporations, the U.S. Supreme Court found that closely held corporations that hold religious objections to certain contraceptive services cannot be required to provide coverage of those services in employee health plans. The Court's decision was based on the protections offered under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a statute prohibiting the government from imposing a substantial burden on a person's religious exercise unless it can show a compelling interest achieved by the least restrictive means. The Court declined to address the constitutional challenge, holding that the companies were protected under RFRA. […] This report analyzes the Court's decision in Hobby Lobby, including arguments made between the majority and dissent, to clarify the scope of the decision and potential impacts for future interpretation of RFRA's applicability. It also examines potential legislative responses, should Congress consider addressing the current applicability of RFRA. Finally, the report addresses the decision's effect on requirements that employers offer contraceptive coverage in group health plans under federal or state law."
CRS Report for Congress, R43654
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html