August 1, 2014

Kaiser: Americans’ views of Hobby Lobby ruling are evenly divided

The U.S. Supreme Court often issues some of its most controversial decisions at the very end of its term, and this year was no different. On June 30 – the final day of the term – the high court released its decision in the Hobby Lobby case, ruling that some for-profit corporations have religious rights and can opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate.

The U.S. public is evenly split in its view of the decision, according to a new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Roughly half of Americans (49%) say they disapprove of the ruling, while a similar share (47%) approve. Neither side seems to feel more strongly than the other: Most people say they feel either “disappointed but not angry” (35%) or “satisfied but not enthusiastic” (35%), and fewer feel “angry” (12%) or “enthusiastic” (11%) about the ruling.

Public evenly divided over Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision

Women are slightly more likely than men to disapprove of the Supreme Court’s decision (53% vs. 46%), but there are significantly bigger gaps between political parties and religious groups. Many more Democrats disapprove of the decision (70%) than Republicans (27%), and a far greater share of people with no religious affiliation disapprove of the Hobby Lobby ruling (67%) than do white evangelical Protestants (29%). Catholics, with 49% disapproving, and white mainline Protestants, 43% of whom disapprove, fall in between.

Kaiser found a high degree of public interest in the case. Roughly six-in-ten Americans report following news of the decision either very closely (29%) or fairly closely (30%). That’s significantly more attention than was given to other recent Supreme Court rulings, including a decision striking down buffer zones around abortion clinics.

The survey also asked respondents about the impact of the ruling – including whether it will lead employers to attempt to deny coverage for other health care services on religious grounds. A majority of Americans – 58% – say it is either very likely (32%) or somewhat likely (26%) that this will happen.

Topics: Religion and Government, Supreme Court, Religion and U.S. Politics, Religious Beliefs and Practices

  1. Photo of Michael Lipka

    is a senior editor focusing on religion at Pew Research Center.


  1. Jack McHenry3 years ago

    I’m amazed and disappointed. In a country that prides itself on individual rights and responsibilities, I believed that most people would be in favor of women making their own birth control decisions without the interference of their employer. I also thought that most people would view healthcare benefits as part of an employee compensation package and thus earned and owned by the employee without strings attached. This survey suggests that half of the country sees it differently than I understood core American values. This is a slippery slope that will lead us nowhere good.

  2. Mikki Mack3 years ago

    The SCOTUS made a serious mistake – again. First, to say corporations are people; and, Secondly, to allow a company to decide a woman’s right to choose her reproductive health care choices. These far right “Christian’s” are the same ones who claim they want smaller govt in their lives and yet want govt in a woman’s womb, govt in a persons bedroom, and claim to be pro-life, yet are quick to help execute a convicted felon. They seem to want it both ways and the GOP keeps stirring the pot with a lot of the Congressional members very ignorant on a lot of issues when it comes to medical reasons for the choices some people feel they should have the right to make on their own with their Dr’s advice.

  3. Denny3 years ago

    I just don’t know: If they did it for political reasons, I’m against !! If for religious reasons, I would support them. I would hate to find out later, that they are a “nest of extreme right-wingers and had just USED the religious thing as a ploy!!!!!!!

  4. Rob Miller3 years ago

    Once again the facts of the SCOTUS ruling are obscured by telling only part of the story. Most media reports I read concerning this ruling did the same thing. The first Kaiser question in the survey fails to mention that only FOUR out of 20 contraceptive options were considered objectionable to Hobby Lobby. Why? Because they are considered by many, including the family that runs Hobby Lobby to be abortifacients. Sweeping ACA mandates that force corporations run by people with strong religious convictions to provide services they consider immoral or unethical should be struck down. Back to the drawing board.

    1. Carol C3 years ago

      If they want to run a business, they can’t discriminate, including forcing their own personal religious beliefs on their employees. No one is forcing them to either use contraception or have a business!
      Run a charity instead, for unwanted children!