Hobby Lobby’s Lawsuit Shmawsuit

If Obamacare doesn’t infringe on anyone’s religious liberties, then why are so many religious organizations suing over it? Some possible reasons:

  • Way too much money lying around offices of charities and hospitals; need to blow some of it on legal fees.
  • ACLU seemed to enjoy it so much, wanted to see what it was like to sit on other side of courtroom.
  • Have secret crush on Ruth Bader Ginsburg; using this as an excuse to get close to her.

One of the many former innocent bystanders which have been turned into plaintiffs by Obamacare is Hobby Lobby, which, for those who don’t know, is kind of like a three-dimensional Pinterest.

The people who operate Hobby Lobby are religious, and they seem to think that Obamacare’s mandates infringe on their religious liberties quite a bit. Kathryn Jean Lopez gets the details of their complaint from Kyle Duncan, an attorney with the Becket Fund, which is representing Hobb-izzle-to-the-Lobb-izzle:

The Greens [founders and operators of HL – j] do not have a religious objection to contraceptives in general. But they do object to “emergency contraceptives” like the “morning after pill” (Plan B) and the “week after pill” (ella) because those drugs — as the FDA’s own birth control guide explains — can prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg in the womb. For the Greens, like many Christians, that amounts to a chemical abortion. They cannot in good conscience offer those drugs in their health plan because they believe it implicates them in abortion. But the Health and Human Services mandate forces them to cover those drugs for free. If they refuse, they risk fines of about $1.3 million per day. This is an intolerable position, and so the Greens felt they had no other option than filing a lawsuit. 


The administration’s arguments in this case are shocking. Here’s what they are saying: once someone starts a “secular” business, he categorically loses any right to run that business in accordance with his conscience. The business owner simply leaves her First Amendment rights at home when she goes to work at the business she built. Kosher butchers around the country must be shocked to find that they now run “secular” businesses. On this view of the world, even a seller of Bibles is “secular.” Hobby Lobby’s affiliate, Mardel, sells Bibles and other Christian-themed material, but because it makes a profit the government has now declared it “secular.”

The administration’s position here — while astonishing — is actually consistent with its overall view of the place of religion in civil society. After all, this is the administration who argued in the Hosanna-Tabor case last year in the Supreme Court that the religion clauses of the First Amendment offered no special protection to a church’s right to choose its ministers — a position that the Court rejected 9-0. This is the administration which has taken to referring to “freedom of worship” instead of “freedom of religion” — suggesting that religious freedom consists in being free to engage in private rituals and prayers, but not in carrying your religious convictions into public life. And this is the administration who crafted a “religious employer” exemption to the HHS mandate so narrow that a Catholic charity does not qualify for conscience protection if it serves non-Catholic poor people.

That does appear to be the game: Claim to support religious freedom while legally defining religious freedom so narrowly that it only applies to cloistered nuns and Deepak Chopra. Protein Wisdom has a salient comment:

Truly, it is bizarre to think that our Constitution has been so perverted by judicial philosopher kings that in a country that was founded on religious freedom, the only religious freedom surviving today is a freedom from having to encounter it.

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