July 2 2014
More on Hobby Lobby and Religious Freedom
As we head into the Fourth of July weekend, we can rejoice that the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case upheld one of our most cherished freedoms: the right to religious liberty.
We can be proud that the U.S. from its earliest days has recoiled from the notion of a government that forces citizens to violate their consciences and religious beliefs. We can also be worried that the Hobby Lobby case, which recognized our right to our own consciences, was a 5-4 ruling.
I think there is a reason the left has made the Hobby Lobby case all about contraception. It correctly grasps that the slogan, “We want to force you to violate your consciences,” is not nearly as catchy as untruthfully claiming that the GOP is coming to confiscate your birth control pills. It isn’t; indeed the Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby and evangelical Christians, were willing to pay for coverage of 16 out of 20 FDA-approved contraceptives. The other four are abortifacients, and the Green family has maintained that paying for abortion-producing drugs would force them to be complicit in something they regard as gravely wrong.
With this in mind, a round-up of good articles on the Hobby Lobby case:
Writing in the New York Daily News, Kathryn Lopez calls the ruling “a win for religious freedom:”
That the Hobby Lobby case and other objections to the Obamacare mandate are about basic American freedom becomes clear once removed from slogans and accusations about supposed partisan or religious wars being waged on women.
Syndicated columnist Mona Charen also rejected the notion that Hobby Lobby was about contraception and sees religious liberty as the heart of the matter:
At the heart of the government’s case was an attempt to steamroll our varied and yes, diverse, nation into conformity on subjects that remain deeply divisive and keenly felt. Like the Affordable Care Act itself, which was railroaded through on a slender majority, the HHS regulations attempted to crush opposition even among the devout. Can you, in the name of public health or “gender equality,” strong-arm those with religious objections into acquiescing on abortion? [The Religious Freedom Restoration Act] threw a cloak of protection over religious expression in all its forms, and the Court, by one vote, upheld religious freedom.
Adam White, writing in the Weekly Standard, is concerned over the way Justice Ginsburg and the other dissenting justices seem to view religious people in the U.S.:
Second, Justice Ginsburg and the other dissenters' characterization of religious belief and believers is stark and, frankly, disturbing. In outlining the sorts of religious “exemptions” that could proliferate, the dissenters begin first with a fifty-year-old case of racial discrimination, and then a thirty-year-old case of discrimination against unmarried women. Do the dissenting justices actually see those lawsuits as reflecting serious religious arguments of our time (or even of the time when the cases arose)?
They seem to define religion in America by reference to society's basest impulses, rather than the vast mainstream of religious Americans, let alone its best exemplars.
Rachel Lu, who writes for The Federalist, urges us to talk to our liberal friends about the real meaning of the Hobby Lobby ruling:
Aren’t liberals the ones who are always lecturing us on the value of a “diverse” society? Whatever arguments you might make for the benefits of having, say, an ethnically diverse workplace, can surely be cross applied to an argument for the benefit of a culturally and philosophically diverse society. If relatively minor accommodations (like slight modifications in employer insurance requirements) can help us to preserve that diversity, that’s a small price to pay.
The Hobby Lobby decision is a win for personal integrity, cultural diversity, and tolerance. Is that not what your liberal friends are saying? Then roll up your sleeves and convince them.
And, as James Capretta points out, we’ll have ample opportunity to discuss Hobby Lobby with our liberal friends in the future because this isn’t going away:
But even in victory, it is hard to avoid the sinking feeling that having to fight at all over this issue is something of a defeat.
That’s because the HHS mandate was always a politically contrived issue without real legitimacy. Prior to 2011, there was no mention by President Obama or anyone else of a real crisis of inadequate access to contraceptives. That’s because contraceptives in the United States have long been very inexpensive, readily available from all manner of outlets, and quickly prescribed and dispensed by physician offices, including physicians working at publicly subsidized clinics. Among other things, the Medicaid program pays for these products for millions of lower-income Americans. Anyone who sincerely sought access to contraceptives could secure them with minimal effort and expense.
The problem that the Obama administration hoped to address with the HHS mandate wasn’t compromised access to contraceptives but the president’s reelection prospects. His political advisers knew that the 2012 campaign could be won only if, among other things, very high numbers of young, single women came out to vote and cast their ballots for Barack Obama. The issue they settled on to drive these voters to the polls was the HHS mandate.
To generate the kind of political reaction they were seeking, it wouldn’t suffice to simply create another program trying to subsidize access to contraceptives for those without coverage through an employer. They needed to make an ideological point that they knew would create some opposition….
While Hobby Lobby was good news, we need to remember: it was by just one vote.