It is natural for either liberals or conservatives to test the limits of a Supreme Court ruling. Often times, the exact boundaries of a ruling are not understood until additional challenges make their way through the legal system. Such was the case recently with a group of religious minded employers with respect to the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling.
In this landmark ruling, the high court ruled that the government could not compel Hobby Lobby’s owners, who are devout pro-life Christians, to pay for contraceptive benefits as mandated in Obamacare if doing so ran afoul of their religious beliefs. However, employers requesting this special exemption must apply for it.
The application process allows the government to find an insurer willing to offer the benefit to the employees so that they receive the birth control they desire while not infringing on the religious conscience of their employers. In terms of reducing insurance premiums, it is arguable that opting out of offering contraceptives financially benefits the employer.
In response to the ruling, a group of religious employers sought to request that their exemption no longer require filing paperwork with the federal government. The group argued that this process still allowed their employees to get contraceptives which also ran against their conscience by making them effectively “enablers” to contraceptive use.
The case, known as East Texas Baptist University v. Burwell, came before Judge Jerry Smith of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Though Judge Smith is a Reagan appointee, he sided with the defendants. In short, he declared that plaintiffs failed to demonstrate how filing the required paperwork constituted “substantially” burdening their freedom of religion as per the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).