What Impact the Supreme Court’s Recent Hobby Lobby
Decision Might Have for LGBT Civil Rights?
Vincent J. Samar
The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in the Hobby Lobby case has created shockwaves of concern among civil rights groups questioning whether for-profit corporations can assert a religious exemption from civil rights legislation under a 1993 federal law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The matter is of particular concern in the LGBT community given the possible impact it could have on services traditionally offered to those getting married as more and more states legalize same-sex marriage. Though the Court’s conservative majority position including Justice Kennedy’s concurrence suggests the decision should be read narrowly as affecting only the question of whether companies could opt out based on their sincerely held religious beliefs from sharing costs of providing certain contraceptives under the Affordable Care Act, the language of the opinion appears to sweep far more broadly. This article will attempt to clarify what limits the opinion actually sets for itself along with what broader jurisprudential arguments might be implicated if the statutory construction the Court offered were indeed to render impotent many federal civil rights protections as applied to certain private businesses. My argument will show that such a broad reading of the Court’s opinion would place the Court in the untenable position of not only ignoring congressional intent, but also undercutting one of the primary purposes of the political branches, viz., to secure the common good by legislation protecting the basic human rights of everyone.
- free exercise,
- statutory interpretataion
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/vincent-samar/6/