Hobby Lobby’s Day in Court

I think it’s today that Hobby Lobby makes its case at the U. S. Supreme Court. I don’t know all the details, but from what I hear it seems pretty clear. Obamacare mandates that health care plans meet certain minimum benchmarks, including contraception coverage. Hobby Lobby does not want to provide contraception coverage, which the owners consider immoral. They claim that this requirement violates their religious freedom. But if Hobby Lobby wants to play in the marketplace, they should meet the same minimum benefit benchmarks as everyone else. Do we really want our insurance coverage to change every time we change jobs, subject to the various moral preferences of our employers? Should we really be under pressure to conform to our employer’s morality when it comes to our own health care?

This is not about religious freedom. Churches and non-profits already have an exemption from the law for core-mission employees. If Hobby Lobby had the least interest in religious freedom, they would provide the same options as everyone else and let every woman make her own reproductive health decisions based on her own faith and conscience. They would not be imposing their religious preference onto their employees without regard to employee beliefs. They would not be claiming “religious freedom” to justify religious compulsion.

Bottom line: The owners of Hobby Lobby are fully entitled to practice their religious beliefs in whatever legal manner they choose; they are not entitled to make that call for every individual they hire.

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6 thoughts on “Hobby Lobby’s Day in Court

  1. It is an interesting case as it attempts to build on the Citizens United decision that held corporations were persons for purposes of campaign finance and first amendment free speech rights. So will they now also be persons for purposes of the religious freedom provisions of the first amendment? This is part and parcel of the historical tension between capitalism and democracy. At the moment capitalism has the upper hand.

    Michael T. Tusa, Jr. Sutton, Alker & Rather, LLC 4080 Lonesome Road, Suite A Mandeville, LA 70448 Telephone: (985) 727-7501 Cell: (504) 442-2828 Facsimile: (985) 727-7505 E-Mail: mtusa@sutton-alker.com Website: http://www.sutton-alker.com “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'”

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  2. Interesting point. Can a corporation have religious beliefs to be infringed upon, or is religious belief the province of individual persons? (I disagree with Hobby Lobby either way. Even if the corporation can have religious beliefs, with constitutional protections, this doesn’t trump the religious freedom of its employees. We still don’t want our health coverage to change every time we change jobs based on employers’ religious preferences.)

    But you have clarified for me the connection to Citizens United, which asks whether corporations should have the same protections as individuals. Perhaps Citizens United really is the watershed of all evil, as some progressives have claimed. Tangent: Would a mom and pop store raise the same constitutional issues as Hobby Lobby or would that put different legal and constitutional factors into play? E.g., If a business is “family-owned” and not a corporation, does that take the Citizens United precedent off the table and put more weight on the family’s protected beliefs?

    Also, thanks for pointing up to the historical tension between capitalism and democracy, a tension often overlooked by talking heads in the public sphere, especially those who profit from trumping up road rage among the yahoos.

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    • And remember there is another difference here. Hobby Lobby is a for profit corporation. It could have been set up as a 501(c)(3) Non profit religious corporation but did not do so. To me that might change the dynamic of the case. This is a purely for profit corporation (privately owned) whose owners happen to be Christians.

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  3. An insured employee has the option of purchasing their own coverage or paying cash for services rendered if his or her employer does no provide the desired services…… No one is forcing a employee to obey someone else’s rules. The employee also has the right to obtain a job with an employer who provides the benefits they desire…. Religious freedom and free enterprise needs to be protected…………

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    • Hi Myseas. You and I disagree in the local case of whether employers should all be expected to meet minimum benchmarks in coverage. But we might agree on the global issue; i.e., the FACT that we disagree is a sure sign that there is something wrong with an employer-based health care system, where every employer has his or her own ideas about what should be covered. Per this criterion, either universal coverage (as they have in all other modern nations) or every-man-for-himself health care (as some of my libertarian friends would prefer) makes better sense than this almost vassal-like system of employer dependency.

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  4. I agree that it is ridiculous for an employer to claim to not be liable for a TAX, as that is what the Supreme Court ruled on Obamacare. Unless this country has gone insane, a company does not have any say so in the reproductive rights of its employees based on the managers religous beliefs. If one works for a company owned by a Jehovah’s witness, should the owner have the right to exclude blood transfusions from insurance coverage ? Ridiculous !! I do believe that the man that runs Hobby Lobby should NOT BE FORCED to take birth control, and that is his right !

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