Supreme Court Issues Landmark Ruling on Obamacare vs. Hobby Lobby

The family-owned craft store does not have to pay for employees' contraception because of owners' religious beliefs.
14:13 | 06/30/14

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Transcript for Supreme Court Issues Landmark Ruling on Obamacare vs. Hobby Lobby
-- I better hire a New York. Decision Day at the Supreme Court and they are those of big the justice is just issued a landmark you know religious freedom and Obama care. Family owned restaurant chain hobby lobby claimed it shouldn't have to pay for contraception for its employees is -- -- Affordable Care Act. -- said it would violate the company's religious beliefs and today the justices agreed ABC's. Terry Moran who's been covering the court for more than twenty years -- outside the Supreme Court Terry thank you for being here and narrowly divided court today what the majority say. It was narrowly divided and in many ways -- narrowly written what the majority here said is that. For profit. Closely held family owned basically corporations. -- hand claim religious freedom the corporation itself can have. Religious freedom. In order to. Opt out of the obamacare mandate that they provide employees with contraceptives that they believe violate their religious -- this morning after pill plan B Allah. That they believe are equivalent to abortion so what the court has said essentially is that for these corporations that acts on not General Motors not giant corporation. But for these family owned corporations. Corporations are people. As Mitt Romney said -- here's what justice Samuel Alito in his opinion said -- corporation is simply a form of organization. Used by human beings to achieve. Desired ends when rights whether constitutional or statutory are extended to corporations as they're doing in this opinion. At the purpose is to protect the rights of these people. So the majority here saying. That the burden on the religious conscience of the owners of hobby lobby who were devout southern baptists the owners economists Tug of war mennonite. Is just too great that that. In this case corporations are people. Well the descent. Written by Ruth Bader Ginsburg justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg warns of a parade of horrible coming down the road she says. In a decision that startling Brett. The court holds today that commercial enterprises including corporations. Along with partnerships and sole -- ships can opt out of any law. They judged incompatible with their serious sincerely held religious believes that what justice Ginsburg is raising is the prospect. Of a lot of people whether -- Christian Jewish Muslim Buddhist wiccan drew it. Com and down the pike and saying. This particular regulation this particular law. Burdens my religious freedom and that is an open question how this opinion will play out in the years to come. -- -- wanna talk about the slippery slope in its second but but this strikes me your description of how the court is now essentially said. Corporations small closely held our people to defining feature of this court right they've ruled in several other cases that corporations are. Deserving of some these same protections. Exactly and that this case comes out of that famous or infamous depending on -- -- -- Citizens United case where the court said that corporations. Have First Amendment speech rights and and therefore that limits on their campaign contributions are -- -- they're independent campaign expenditures are unconstitutional. In some ways it is a pattern. If you have a civil rights claim that that the best thing you could possibly do -- become a corporation. Because they're very sympathetic to the liberty claims. -- of corporations perhaps -- -- to individuals. And this is another big win. For the corporate form as Justice Alito says here and as the court said and Citizens United. Behind this corporate form. Our people. And -- -- rights and we need to protect them that is the bottom line and I think it's you've said recently we can expect more cases along these same lines challenges and different elements -- -- let's talk about the slippery slope let's talk about. Ginsburg's dissent. What was there any sign by the justices by the majority even to kind of qualifier this I know you've said that they've they've made it relatively narrow closely held. Family owned businesses but what can we see in the tea leaves here about how narrow this really years. You know I'm on my first reading of it -- the only limiting principle that that I saw was that since the facts of this case deal with family held. Closely owned corporations that's -- world role and Justice Alito says. Not in a -- and the -- than just an opinion he says it's unlikely he says that a big corporation giant corporation like -- -- Would make a religious claim. So he doesn't think that the problem down the line. Justice Ginsburg. Disagrees and she even has. A problem with the closely on family held corporation. Making this religious freedom claim because at some point and it's a very dangerous thing it in the united if you think about it. Do we get to the Specter of courts investigating. How sincere -- religious beliefs so. Or are you scamming. The law in order to get out of it and and and that notion that that -- have any government official investigating the sincerity of your prayers. In order to see whether or not you fall under this this exemption is. It is troubling to say the least I should say one more thing there's one more limiting limiting. Aspect of this decision Justice Alito said to the -- -- administration go back to the drawing board. Come up with a better way of achieving ignorance. Without this blunt instrument of a mandate perhaps. The government could pick up the tab for these particular. Contraceptives make an accommodation for these people's religious freedom. So it's not. It's not the destruction of obamacare is essentially saying he used to blunt of an instrument here and it does -- their religious freedom go back to the -- Terry before we let you go somebody who closely. Closely followed this -- what did you make of the fact that justice and Lido. Delivered this opinion today when so many expected Roberts Chief Justice John Roberts to do that and more broadly what it what does this say about the Roberts court term has come to an end today. What this is a big day for justice -- because he wrote the other opinion in the big labor cases well. It says he's obviously coming into his own and he is -- profoundly. Conservative justice in some -- he's the most conservative justice. In the history of the United States. Because he's conservative both as a former prosecutor. He backed state power he's not a libertarians -- He backs the state power quite a bit in in criminal and other cases. And as he's a very devout Catholic and he has -- very conservative cultural view as well. So it shows just how deeply conservative. This court is. And it also shows that it does have when it comes to corporations. A deep suspicion. Of federal power intruding. I the their personal rights of the owners of the corporations. That line of decisions that we were talking about earlier. This is another brick in the wall of the court protecting corporations. From federal regulation. And Terry before we let you go we hear the protest behind you just to give us a little sense of the color at the scene there what are -- -- Colorful. -- in ways admirable than I did there's there's there's I'm looking at the national organization for women chanting now. I saw signed earlier saying hi mom I'm an atheist. She's somebody who is on them the other side of this case. And some very passionate. Anti abortion rights pro life protesters here as well they see this as an opportunity to limit. What they believe are abortions using these. Contraceptive methods so -- it it's the usual colorful. -- a colorful array of protesters here I've -- Justice Scalia once saying puzzling why they come and they can't influence -- Maybe to the -- at any all right ABC's Terry Moran at the Supreme Court Terry thanks very much for your time when the best in the business thank you so much going in the snow for reaction. At the White House ABC White House correspondent your knowledge and thanks for being here -- -- in the newsroom there. But -- give us a sense of the reaction from the White House right now to this blow if you will to -- -- that's a little early at this point there's been no official reaction from the White House yet DeVon. We can certainly surmise is -- not going to be happy with this ruling. But that probably cling to a couple things that Terry Moran was talking about. Number one no cling to the fact that. This is a very limited ruling according to -- Supreme Court themselves that this only applies. Only it to corporations that are under the control but just a few people. In which. And know -- which the people. Hardin fifth differentiate from the -- corporation. This is a family run business. This is as Terry pointed out. Not going to apply to large corporations to large numbers of people across the country so obamacare is not undercut seriously. It is could undercut. Somewhat with the these small religious. Type family owned businesses who can now say. That they do not have to provide. A certain kinds of contraception. Two to their employees. That of course is not going to go -- well the White House although as we say the briefing this mornings at 1130 so we saw the little bit before we hear exactly from the -- precisely from press spokesman. The church and talk a little bit about the big picture here this Supreme Court last year the year before upheld the individual mandate a big. Affirmation. This law and yet this has been one of the most. Contentious. Elements -- that the contraceptive mandate we've seen challenges by the Catholic Church we've seen -- efforts by the White House as you know to accommodate. Different religious groups where does this -- stand -- it effectively dead now do you think -- this with this with this low today. Well I think the what is called the contraceptive mandate will still hold over most of most of obamacare. It's only in places whereas -- -- Supreme Court says. Where there are small family businesses. That where -- the the people who own the business. Are linked. Specifically to the business itself so there's no differentiating between the two is that the Supreme Court is saying so the beliefs of the people who run the business. -- the same as the business itself. That's different then as Terry's been pointing out Exxon or General Motors are large employers -- that won't have an effect there so. The majority of the country in fact. You know 9598%. Of the country we'll continue to. Have contraceptive care un mandated contraceptive care under their insurance. Because of Obama -- that won't change it much. One of the things that is interesting as you point out. Is that this is the same Supreme Court which. Said that Obama -- was legal. And that -- could continue and in fact it was Justice Roberts -- cast and that deciding vote. In that case. Four Obama care and in this case. He is the one who decided to one with the conservatives in this case and cast the deciding vote against Obama care so a little bit of Supreme Court trivia there. As two. The difference in what. The Supreme Court is doing the same man. Casting that's a different vote in this case. Art ABC White House correspondent Jim novelist Jim thanks for being here we'll be watching your question -- closely at 1130. Looking for reaction from the White House thanks so much Jim. And also we wanted to give you a sense of what -- reaction was just a few moments ago from hobby lobby's lead attorney Laurie Windham just spoke on the steps of the Supreme Court. Here's a little bit of what she had to say. -- landmark decision religious freedom. -- Recognize that American families do not -- it is that fundamental rights when they opened a family business. Today's victory against his unjust mandate is important not just for families like -- but also religious ministries like the little sisters of the poor. All of -- he seeks a -- according to their consciences. The court's decision today was narrow and careful. The court ruled that families do not only is -- religious freedom and open a family business. This decision does not grant religious protections aren't publicly traded corporations. The court kept the focus where. It belongs on families like the greens and -- -- on everyday Americans who seek to without their faith. The court's reasoning was clear it -- clear to the government -- You can't argue that there were no alternative means for the government and the government is busy paying for contraceptives. And providing alternative means for other people we don't know what the government choose to do next. We know that the greens at three from -- -- mandates. The government -- it. Protects the religious ministries like a little sisters of the poor. An eternal word television network is also asking -- Supreme Court currently today. Women like Barbara Green and Elizabeth on -- for their religious freedom and today why. Women like the little sisters of the poor will continue to have rights. Women's voices are hard. Standing up for religious -- this case is about the freedoms all Americans women and -- and it's something all Americans celebrate today. Thank you. In your following reaction from the Supreme Court today hadn't landmark ruling and not Obama care religious liberty. -- the final -- of the term the Supreme Court you can keep up with this story in real time by downloading the ABC news -- story in this story for exclusive updates on the go. For now I'm Devin Dwyer a New York. --

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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