Legal Insurrection covered the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Hobby Lobby case that a closely held corporation cannot be required to provide contraception coverage.

Loyola University student Matt Lamb looks at the reaction from Christian Colleges, which were awaiting this decision in hopes their schools would be able to get exemptions.

Backers of religious freedom for Christian universities cheered the Supreme Court’s ruling Monday that “closely held for-profit corporations” like Hobby Lobby can claim a religious exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s so-called contraceptive mandate.

While the ruling does not guarantee a victory in the lower courts for universities challenging the mandate on religious grounds, religious freedom proponents are hopeful the courts will rule in favor of the universities.

Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), the federal government can “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” only when there is a “compelling government interest” and it is the “least restrictive means” of achieving the government’s purpose.

Writing for the 5-4 majority, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that providing contraception can be in the government’s interest, but forcing businesses to provide it “plainly fails” the least-restrictive-means test.

Because the court ruled the federal government has other ways of providing contraception without requiring businesses to pay for them, religious universities may also qualify for that exemption.Six of the schools represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty – which also represented Hobby Lobby – have been granted injunctions against the mandate, including Union University, Colorado Christian University and Houston Baptist University.

Colorado Christian was the most recent plaintiff to prevail. A federal judge in Denver issued an injunction in late June, saying the mandate violated RFRA.

Many federal courts were waiting to rule on challenges to the mandate until after the Supreme Court ruled.  For example, the College of the Ozarks and Belmont Abbey College both have pending cases in courts waiting to hear from the Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby case.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said in a press release he was meeting with the other plaintiff in the case, Mennonite-owned Conestoga Wood Specialties, when the Supreme Court ruling was announced.

“While we celebrate this landmark decision, it is our hope that lower courts will follow the Supreme Court’s lead and protect non-profits like Little Sisters of the Poor, Priests for Life, and Wheaton College” from the mandate, Perkins said.

Wheaton lost its anti-mandate argument in federal appeals court in 2012 on the grounds that the government had promised not to enforce the rule until it devised a final accommodation for religious schools like the evangelical Wheaton.