When Will Supreme Court Rule On Hobby Lobby Case? Here's Our Best Guess
Ever since the Supreme Court hearings in late March over arts and crafts company Hobby Lobby's faith-based challenge to Obamacare and its contraception mandate, women's health activists have been waiting with bated breath. And people should be antsy about it — even a narrow ruling, applying only to closely-held companies owned by the religious, would still be a major setback for many women's access to contraception. It's not totally clear when SCOTUS will make their decision — but here's our best guess.
A survey of cases from 2008-2009 indicated that it often takes somewhere between 14 and 16 weeks, from the end of oral arguments, for our highest court to hand down a ruling. An info guide for law clerks, on the other hand, pegs the figure at 81 days — that's a little under three months.
Oral arguments in the case, led by prominent conservative-cause attorney Paul Clement on the Hobby Lobby side, and Solicitor General Donald Verrilli on the government's, were heard on March 25, extending for a full half-hour longer than is usual — a sign, perhaps, that the gravity and national prominence of the case was not lost on the Justices. Based on this, a ruling in the case could be reasonably expected to come sometime in mid-to-late June — the Court's landmark 2012 ruling on Obamacare's constitutionality came on July 28th, as an example, after oral arguments wrapped up on March 28th. That's an even three months.
Basically, it's on the horizon, but likely not for another month and a half, at least.
Which gives everyone plenty of time to fret about it — especially since a recent ruling in which Justice Anthony Kennedy came down in favor of public, sectarian prayers before town meetings aren't very encouraging for those hoping for the court to rein in Hobby Lobby.
The "religious freedom" argument, after all, has become a rallying cry for the American ring-wing in a number of different ways — be it courts weighing whether a boss can deny employees birth control access, or legislatures trying to eradicate the rights of people stigmatized by fundamentalist faith, it's a phrase that's gained a lot of traction in the last several months. The Supreme Court could put a dent in that conservative strategy by rebuking Hobby Lobby.