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

  1. Photo of Michael Lipka

    is an editorial manager of religion research at Pew Research Center.