Alito recognizes what the legal brief for the Hahns so strikingly set out:
Whatever the legal status of their organizations, owners and operators, do not check their beliefs at the door each Monday morning. They live their faith throughout the work week. Hence it is the Hahns’ religious beliefs that prevent Conestoga from providing drugs and services that end a newly formed human life. There is no separating the two.
Are there limits to this decision? Yes.
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First, the court states that “we have no occasion in these cases to consider the RFRA’s applicability to” publicly traded companies. However, limiting the decision to the facts of the case—that is, one involving closely held corporations—is not unusual. It is part of normal judicial restraint.
Secondly, this decision has to do with federal governmental action. Unfortunately, religious liberty is also being restricted by state governmental action. Therefore, litigants must depend on their own state constitutions or state RFRAs for protection.
The high court waited until the final day of its term to issue this extremely important decision. Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties will not be forgotten anytime soon.
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