Monday’s Supreme Court decision in favor of the company and Conestoga Wood of Pennsylvania for refusing to pay for contraception in health insurance affects far more than the 15,000 employees between them. The Supreme Court’s decision allows closely held companies (corporations with more than 50 percent of stock owned by five or fewer individuals) to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. There are at least 80 other companies fighting to be the next Hobby Lobby.
Gretchen Borchelt, senior counsel and director of state reproductive health policy for the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), has been following similar cases for the past three years. She calls the Hobby Lobby decision disturbing—not for the least of reasons, how many other corporations it will affect.
“Other closely held companies now have a license to harm their employees in the name of the company’s religion,” she said. “If companies qualify, they can use this decision to make the same claim.”
A number already have. More than 50 for-profit companies and 59 non-profits have been filed lawsuits against the ACA’s contraception mandate. The majority of these rulings were stayed by courts pending the resolution of Hobby Lobby’s case.
“After SCOTUS issued this decision, lower courts will apply that decision to these cases that they’ve been holding,” said Borchelt.
Those that don’t immediately get approval may simply move forward without it.
“Some of the plaintiffs who have existing cases have said they intend to stop fighting and simply use this decision as a victory,” she said.
When asked whether those companies who haven’t filed suit will be able to follow the Hobby Lobby decision, Borchelt sounded alarmed.
“It’s unclear. There’s no process in place. Technically they could.” If they do, the national implications would be huge. Despite what “closely held company” sounds like, these aren’t all small, family-owned businesses. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted in her dissent, candymaker Mars Inc., with 70,000 employees, qualifies as a closely held company. Cargill does too and it takes in more than $136 billion in annual revenue.
“It’s impossible to predict how many more companies might want to take advantage of this decision,” she says. For each of the cases filed in court, the NWLC estimates there are dozens more that hold the same beliefs, but haven’t bothered to take it to court.
“We don’t know how wide the scope is or how many companies will step forward,” says Borchelt. “The Supreme Court claims it is trying to limit this decision, but it includes a huge swath of companies. It’s not as limited as it appears.”
Below is a full list of pending cases filed by companies, nonprofits, and universities challenging the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate as of June 26. (*= Both Nonprofit + Profit cases)
1. Tyndale House
Illinois for-profit publishing company focusing on Christian books.
2. Freshway Foods
A fresh produce processor and packer, Freshway Logistics is a for-hire carrier of mainly refrigerated products. The companies are Ohio-based for-profits that serve 23 states.
3. Johnson Welded Products
Ohio-based manufacturer of reservoirs for air brake systems.
4. Willis & Willis PC
Michigan-based law firm.
5. Trijicon, Inc.
Michigan-based maker of aiming systems for firearms.
6. Barron Industries
Michigan-based company that produces metal castings for various industries.
7. Midwest Fastener Corp
Michigan-based company that supplies fasteners to the hardware store, home center, and industrial markets.
8. Electrolock Inc.
Ohio-based corporation that works in the electrical and thermal insulation industry. Other plaintiff companies include Stone River Management Co. and Dunstone Co.
9. Zumbiel Packaging
Kentucky-based manufacturer of paperboard packaging for consumer goods.
10. Encompass Develop, Design & Construct, LLC.
Kentucky-based architect, design and construction service of which John Stewart is the managing and sole member.
11. Holland Chevrolet
West Virginia-based corporation engaged in selling and servicing motor vehicles.
12. Autocam Corporation
Autocam Automotive makes parts for transportation while Autocam Medical makes medical equipment. These are west Michigan-based manufacturing companies that operate across the United States.
13. Dominos Farms
Michigan-based property management company.
14. Mersino Management
Michigan-based management company and provides insurance for Mersino Enterprises, Mersino Dewatering, Global Pump Co., and Mersino South-West.
15. Eden Foods Incorporated
Eden Foods is a Michigan-based corporation that specializes in supplying macrobiotic, organic food.
16. MK Chambers Company
Michigan-based supplier of specialty machining.
17. M&N Plastics
Michigan-based supplier of custom injection molding products.
18. Mersino Dewatering, INC
Michigan-based company that provides dewatering (water removal) services. It has branches in Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania.
19. Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, Inc.,
Illinois-based full-service construction contractor.
20. Truine Health Group
Triune is an Illinois corporation that specializes in facilitating the re-entry of injured workers into the workforce.
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