The Supreme Court heard extensive arguments today about the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Here’s where you can get details and analysis of what the Justices said and asked.
About 90 minutes of arguments were scheduled for Tuesday morning featuring two familiar names: Solicitor General Donald Verrilli and Paul Clement. Both men argued before the Court in 2012 about the Affordable Care Act.
This time the arguments were about two cases.
In Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., the national hobby and crafts chain store asked the Court to take on the birth control mandate that applies to for-profit companies. The Obama administration also had asked the Court to take up the Hobby Lobby case.
In the Conestoga Wood case, a Mennonite family-owned, profit-making business claims that the ACA’s birth control mandate violates the company’s rights under the First Amendment free exercise clause and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Here are five good sources for information about what the attorneys said, and how the Justices reacted.
The blog of record for the Supreme Court has analysis from Constitution Daily contributor Lyle Denniston on the arguments. (As you’ll recall, SCOTUSblog set a high standard for accuracy when it covered the Affordable Care Act decisions two years ago.)
“The Supreme Court, in a one-hour, twenty-eight minute session Tuesday, staged something like a two-act play on a revolving stage: first the liberals had their chance and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy gave them some help, and then the scene shifted entirely, and the conservatives had their chance — and, again, Kennedy provided them with some support,” Denniston said.
You can also get all the documents related to the case on SCOTUSblog.
Wall Street Journal Live Blog
The Journal put three reporters on the arguments and they took extensive notes. The reporters said the “the court’s three female justices, all part of the court’s liberal wing, dominated the questioning during the first half on Monday’s 90 minute oral argument, repeatedly pressing the corporate challengers to the government’s contraception requirements.”
They also hinted that Chief Justice John Roberts might have been seeking a compromise involving closely held companies (like Hobby Lobby) and publicly held companies.
The Los Angeles Times
David G. Savage of the Los Angeles Times seems to believe the five conservative Justices will rule for Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood.
“The Supreme Court’s conservative justices sharply criticized part of President Obama’s healthcare law Tuesday, suggesting they will rule later this year that requiring Christian-owned corporations to offer their employees contraceptives coverage violates the freedom of religion,” Savage said in his opening paragraph.
He also noted that Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan “agreed with Verrilli that it would cause problems if employers were permitted to refuse to pay for benefits based on religion.”
The New York Times
Adam Liptak was less committal than Savage. “The court seemed ready to accept that at least some for-profit corporations may advance claims based on religious freedom. But the justices appeared divided along ideological lines over whether the objections before it, based on a requirement in President Obama’s health care law, should succeed,” he said.
Liptak said that Justice Anthony Kennedy, widely seen as the swing vote in the cases, asked questions on both sides of the issue.
The Supreme Court’s argument transcripts
These should be available shortly at the following link: http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts.aspx
More on RFRA and Religious Rights
In addition to our coverage of Hobby Lobby, listen to the NCC’s Jeffrey Rosen, Cornell’s Michael Dorf and NYU’s Richard Epstein on our We The People podcast discuss the broader issues of religious exemptions and how they could affect discrimination laws. Download podcast or use player below:
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