WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday dealt a blow to President Barack Obama’s health-care law, ruling that closely held companies can claim a religious exemption from the requirement that they offer birth-control coverage in their worker health plans.
Voting 5-4, the justices sided with family-run businesses, including the craft-store chain Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., that say they regard some forms of contraception as immoral.
The ruling carves a hole in Obama’s biggest legislative accomplishment, the 2010 health-care law that the Supreme Court upheld two years ago.
Also on Monday, a divided U.S. Supreme Court dealt a setback to organized labor by putting new limits on the ability of unions to demand fees from workers who are paid through government programs.
The high court, voting 5-4, invalidated Illinois rules requiring union dues from people who provide in-home care for disabled Medicaid recipients. The majority said those rules violated the First Amendment because the workers weren’t true public-sector employees.
The court also raised questions about a 1977 decision that says public-sector employees can be compelled to pay for union representation as long as they don’t have to cover the cost of political or ideological activities. Writing for the court, Justice Samuel Alito called that ruling “questionable.”