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Texans React to Hobby Lobby Ruling From Supreme Court

Texas Republicans praised the Supreme Court decision as a victory for religious rights, because it allows owners of some private companies to refuse to cover certain forms of contraception for female employees. Legal scholars say the government might develop some regulatory workarounds.

Hobby Lobby and other companies had objected to providing insurance coverage for a few types of contraception, like the morning-after pill and intrauterine devices.

“These people are saying this is all abortion, in a different version, in my mind, so I shouldn’t be forced to subsidize it,” said Peter Linzer, a law professor at the University of Houston.

The court’s majority agreed, at least for this issue and for privately, closely-held companies.

Professor Josh Blackman of the South Texas College of Law said the 5-4 decision was narrowly focused. He says it’s not going to apply to publicly-traded companies like Chevron or Wal-Mart.

“This is going to effect a fairly small number of corporations and employees,” he predicted.

But the decision raises question of how women at those companies will get that particular type of coverage, if at all.

“The court did leave open the possibility that the government could force insurance companies to provide various contraceptives at no cost to the corporations,” Blackman said. “It’s unclear if the government will actually do that or if they even have the power to do that, but the government left open that possibility.”  

Also unsettled is the issue of how other religious owners of companies might use the ruling to push back against other federal laws. In a dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginburg said the implications were “potentially sweeping,” but Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who wrote the majority decision, said the decision applied to types of companies that were similar to the Hobby Lobby.  

Rochelle Tafolla, a spokeswoman for the Gulf Coast chapter of Planned Parenthood, called the ruling “troubling and disappointing.”

“Whether or not this is just a few companies, or a lot of companies, the issue for us is if any boss, anywhere, can determine and interfere with any woman’s individual right to make a personal healthcare decision,” Tafolla said. “That’s a big, big problem.”

Texas Republicans praised the ruling. Congressman Kevin Brady of the Woodlands said in a statement it was victory for religious “job creators.”

Others, like Governor Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott, noted in their statements that it’s a defeat for part of the Affordable Care Act.

 

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Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters and the Houston Press Club. Florian is a native of Germany. His studies...

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