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Wednesday round-up

Coverage of the Court continues to focus on Monday’s decisions in argued cases, as well as the Term more generally.

In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the Court held – in an opinion by Justice Samuel Alito – that (at least as applied to closely held corporations) the regulations promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services requiring employers to provide their female employees with no-cost access to contraception violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  Coverage comes from Nina Totenberg at NPR.  At Talking Points Memo, Sahil Kapur had initial coverage of the decision and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent here and here, with follow-up coverage on the impact of the decision and a possible solution

Commentary on the decision comes from:

  • Erwin Chemerinsky, who in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times contends that, “[d]espite all of the claims that its holding was narrow, the Supreme Court’s decision is the broadest in American history in providing corporations the ability to claim an exemption to a law based on the religious beliefs of their owners”;
  •  Alan Morrison, who at ACSblog sets out where, in his view, Justice Alito “went off the proper constitutional track”;
  • J. Chris Sanders, who at ACSblog argues that the home health-care workers in this case are getting “something for nothing”;
  • Joan Krause, who at Hamilton and Griffin on Rights provides a health lawyer’s take on the decision;
  • Jonathan Keim at the National Review’s Bench Memos blog, who characterizes the decision as “a solid victory for religious freedom”;
  • Elizabeth Wydra, who at CNN maintains that “the implications of the ruling in Hobby Lobby extend far beyond contraception coverage”;
  • Ira Lupu and Robert Tuttle, who at the Berkley Center’s Cornerstone blog conclude that, although the decision “is a dramatic chapter in the story of religious freedom and the ACA . . .  in the longer run, we suspect that [it] will generate few, if any, additional victories for commercial employers seeking to impose the costs of their religious convictions on their employees”;
  • Zoe Henson, who in The New Republic offers the perspective of a woman who uses contraception for medical reasons;
  • Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic, who analyzes what he sees as the underlying reasons for some opposition to the mandate;
  • Andrew Koppelman in The New Republic, who describes the decision as a “small victory for women’s equality”;
  • Hadley Arkes, who at The Catholic Thing describes “joy” and “disappointment” in the Court’s ruling;
  • Adam White in The Weekly Standard, who looks at (among other things) what the decision might mean for Justice Anthony Kennedy’s vote on same-sex marriages;
  • Marc DeGirolami, who at the Library of Law and Liberty reflects on “the case’s perhaps deeper meaning”; Yuval Levin at the National Review Online’s The Corner, who suggests “that the majority decision breaks some important ground on the general question of the corporate form in our civil society and its standing as a medium for the practice of our rights”; and
  • Beverly Mann at Angry Bear, who reacts to both decisions here and looks more closely at the Hobby Lobby decision here.
  • Christopher Schmidt, who at ISCOTUSnow (video) describes the case as “yet another chapter in the still-unfolding story of the extent to which corporations are ‘persons’ for purposes of claiming constitutional rights.”

In Harris v. Quinn, a divided Court – also in an opinion by Alito – held that the First Amendment prohibits the collection of an agency fee from home health-care workers who do not wish to support or join a union.   Coverage comes from NPR’s Nina Totenberg. Commentary comes from Ruben Garcia, who argues at Hamilton and Griffin on Rights that the Court’s opinion “has once again marginalized [home health-care] employees, and the people for whom they work”;  from Nicole Berner at ACSblog, who emphasizes that, although the Court’s decision “is a setback for homecare workers, our members are more determined than ever to ensure quality care for people with disabilities and seniors, all of whom want nothing more than to enable this population to live independently and with dignity at home.”

Other Court-related coverage focuses on yesterday’s orders and opinions.  Lyle Denniston covered the order list for this blog.  At JURIST, Kimberly Bennett covers the Court’s announcement that it will not review a challenge to a California regulation that requires a reduction in carbon fuel emissions by motor fuels; JURIST’s Jaclyn Belczyk also reports on yesterday’s grants.  At the IMLA Practice Blog, Matthew Schettenhelm covers yesterday’s grant in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, in which the Court will consider a challenge to the town’s sign ordinance.  At Crime and Consequences, Kent Scheidegger discusses the per curiam disposition of Williams v. Johnson,


  • In the Legal Times, Tony Mauro reports on retirements at the Court – including that of Chief Deputy Clerk of the Court Chris Vasil (on whose retirement we also reported earlier this year).
  • At Newsweek, Pema Levy suggests that the Court’s decision in National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning, striking down the president’s recess appointments to the NLRB, will likely lead to “more partisan gridlock and a substantial blow to the power of the presidency.”
  • At his Election Law Blog, Rick Hasen responds to a column by David Cole (in The New York Review of Books) in which Cole suggests that the Term “could have been worse”; Hasen counters that the Court’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, striking down federal aggregate limits on campaign contributions, was “pretty darn bad.”
  • In The New Republic, David H. Gans argues that the Roberts Court is “leading a free speech revolution of its own, but this time for the benefit of corporations and the wealthy.”

A friendly reminder:  We rely on our readers to send us links for the round-up.  If you have or know of a recent (published in the last two or three days) article, post, or op-ed relating to the Court that you’d like us to consider for inclusion in the round-up, please send it to roundup [at]  Thank you!

Disclosure:  Kevin Russell of Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, was among the counsel on an amicus brief in support of the respondent in Harris.  However, I am not affiliated with the firm.

Recommended Citation: Amy Howe, Wednesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Jul. 2, 2014, 6:48 AM),