WASHINGTON — For those who imagine this week's Hobby Lobby case closed the curtain on high-profile religious liberty cases involving the Affordable Care Act, guess again.
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"There are quite a few more shoes to drop," Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty that represented Hobby Lobby's owners, told us. "The court did not pre-decide the nonprofit accommodation cases … but strongly signaled that it will strike down the government system for dealing with those organizations."
In The New York Times, another Becket Fund lawyer, Mark L. Rienzi, added: “Today’s decision will be helpful to … nonprofit organizations because it rejects the idea that the government can tell religious believers that their beliefs are mistaken or insubstantial. And that’s the argument the government has been using in cases involving nonprofit organizations.”
But critics of the ruling claim that the majority opinions by Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Anthony Kennedy could pose problems for the more than 50 nonprofits suing the government claiming the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate also violates their rights under Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Marcia D. Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center, Alito's majority and Kennedy's concurring opinions suggested the accommodation the government has offered to eliminate the conscience burden on religious nonprofits is a reasonable alternative: “Today’s decision does not bode well for the nonprofit organizations,” Greenberger said.