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Supreme Court still to rule on religious freedom for corporations and abortion clinic buffer zones

June 25, 2014 - Andrea Johnson
The Supreme Court told cops today to "get a warrant" if they want to look at someone's cell phone, but there are still some other cases that could have a major impact on the way we live our lives.

The cases that I find most interesting involve religious liberties for employers and free speech rights for anti-abortion protesters. Employees of the chain store Hobby Lobby could end up paying higher prices for prescription birth control if the Supreme Court rules that a requirement to fund health insurance that includes birth control coverage violates an employer's right to religious freedom. If the Supremes do side with employers, theoretically other employers with strong religious convictions could refuse to do things that the law now requires of them. The possibilities are probably as numerous as are the requirements of the world's many religions.

Women and employees entering abortion clinics stand to have a far more unpleasant experience if the Court rules as unconstitutional a Massachusetts law requiring protesters to keep back 35 feet from abortion clinics, but anti-abortion protesters would gain the right to try to influence those people from a closer vantage point.

Personally, I oppose a law granting corporations religious freedom but tend to side with those who favor limiting the abortion clinic buffer zone. There are probably other laws in place that would make it possible to charge anti-abortion protesters who get too far out of line.

How do you hope the Supreme Court will rule?


The Supreme Court struck down Massachusetts' abortion clinic buffer zone law this morning. The Supreme Court Justices said the law is too restrictive and the state can enforce law and order at the site using less restrictive means. Police would be able to prevent clinic patients from being harassed by using the state's other laws. The opinion can be found at:

Update 2:

The Supreme Court ruled Monday in favor of Hobby Lobby and in favor of religious freedom for corporations. The opinion can be found at


Article Comments



Jun-28-14 5:08 PM

That's probably what would happen if Hobby Lobby decides to drop insurance coverage. People who can't get insurance through their employer are supposed to be eligible for subsidies to buy insurance privately.

However, the pundits are anticipating that the Court will rule in favor of Hobby Lobby and Scalia will write the decision that is released on Monday. If nothing else, it should make for some interesting situations to write about.


Jun-27-14 1:24 PM

And here is another option. Provide healthcare but no coverage for prescriptions.


Jun-27-14 1:23 PM

JackAah...they won't lose healthcare. They have a right and ability to healthcare now. It just wouldn't be subsidized by the corporation they work for. Did you forget?


Jun-26-14 5:23 PM

That would certainly be their prerogative, but it would likely also make them less attractive as an employer. I don't think they ought to have the right to refuse to fund birth control insurance.


Jun-26-14 1:08 PM

Hobby Lobby could decide not to offer health care to their employees. That's an option as well.


Jun-26-14 11:05 AM

I think the ruling on "corporate speech" was pretty egregious.

But, let's assume that the Supreme Court does rule in favor of religious rights for businesses. Let's say that there is a cab company owner who is from a country where women are not allowed to drive. He refuses to hire female cabbies because it is against his religious convictions. He also refuses to transport women who are unaccompanied by other men because it is against his religion. Does the Supreme Court ruling allow this?

Let's say another business owner belongs to a particularly noxious religion that believes whites are superior to blacks and Jews. He refuses to hire anyone who is black or Jewish or Native American or Asian because it is against his religion. Does the law allow him to do that?

If you approve of Hobby Lobby refusing to pay for birth control coverage, you open the door to other religious claims as well. The result would be chaos and would ill serve the public.


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