Today’s Rulings

by Ed Whelan

The Supreme Court is expected to issue its two final rulings of the term, in the Hobby Lobby/Conestoga Wood cases (religious-liberty challenges to the HHS mandate) and in Harris v. Quinn (First Amendment challenge to coerced support of public-sector union), in its session that begins at 10 a.m. If things go as I anticipate (and they well might not), Justice Alito will first announce the decision in Harris v. Quinn, and the Chief Justice will then announce the Hobby Lobby decision. Announcement of each decision could easily take several minutes. Plus, each case presents the prospect that a dissenting justice will read from the dissent. So we might not get the first word on Hobby Lobby until 10:15 or later. (For the initial news, I will be relying on SCOTUSblog’s live blogging.)

(For a skeletal outline of the various issues in Hobby Lobby along with links to my fuller takes on the issues, see this post. See also my two recent posts on Harris v. Quinn.)

After 10 a.m., I will update this post to provide quick news and comments on the results. I will reserve extended commentary for later posts.


Both decisions from Alito!

Hobby Lobby: Victory for Hobby Lobby, 5-4. RFRA applies to closely held corporations. Government hasn’t shown that mandate is least restrictive means. Reasoning evidently mirrors this post of mine. Just received link to opinion.

Kennedy concurrence (might go further than rest of majority in reliance on accommodation for religious nonprofits). 

Dissent by Ginsburg for four liberals. (Breyer and Kagan don’t join part that says for-profit corporations don’t have RFRA rights.)

Harris v. Quinn: Court refuses to extend Abood​ but doesn’t overrule it. Narrow ruling, evidently. 5-4. Individuals who aren’t really public employees don’t fall within scope of dubious Abood​ ruling.

Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.