Supreme misery for the left [or not]

The Supreme Court today issued its final two decisions of the term. One of them constitutes a clear defeat for the left. The other looks like a minor defeat.

In the Hobby Lobby case, the Court held that closely held corporations cannot be required to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees. The five center-right Justices formed the majority for that proposition.

In Harris v. Quinn, the Court, again with the five center-right Justices comprising the majority, held that individuals home health care workers cannot be required to pay dues to public employee unions, as they are not really public employees. The Court did not overrule past precedent holding that the First Amendment allows the government to condition a person’s employment in the public sector on that person’s paying fees to a union.

Justice Alito wrote the majority opinions in both cases, which is almost always nice. I haven’t yet read the opinions.

We’ll probably have more to say about one or both of these decisions.

UPDATE: Our friend Mark Arnold, a distinguished appellate attorney, writes that the decision in Hobby Lobby is “all smoke and mirrors” because “the less restrictive alternative that the majority settled on is a certification by Hobby Lobby that it opposes contraceptive coverage, after which the insurance company must provide that coverage for free.” Accordingly, “the premium charged to Hobby Lobby will necessarily include the cost of the free contraception.”

Ed Whelan, though, thinks the decision augurs well for the success of the ongoing challenges by groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor.

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