Hobby Lobby: Religious Freedom Wins, ObamaCare Loses

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


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It’s ridiculous that the First Amendment was even up for debate in this country. But the Supreme Court, somewhat surprisingly, stood behind religious freedom.

ObamaCare lost. Religious freedom won.

The Supreme Court advanced the cause of religious freedom Monday in the most closely watched case of its term, ruling that companies cannot be forced to offer insurance coverage for birth control methods they equate with abortion.

The 5-4 decision by the court’s conservative majority, over the vehement objections of liberal justices, dealt a blow to President Obama’s health care law two years after the court came within one vote of striking it down as unconstitutional.

“A corporation is simply a form of organization used by human beings to achieve desired ends,” Alito said. “Protecting the free-exercise rights of corporations like Hobby Lobby, Conestoga and Mardel protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control those companies.”

“If the owners comply with the … mandate, they believe they will be facilitating abortions, and if they do not comply, they will pay a very heavy price – as much as $1.3 million per day, or about $475 million per year, in the case of one of the companies,” Alito said. “If these consequences do not amount to a substantial burden, it is hard to see what would.”

Again, that’s straightforwardly obvious, despite the liberal claims that “corporations aren’t people” (but unions somehow are).

Corporations aren’t run by computers. They devolve down to people. And those people have First Amendment rights.

The obvious flaw in logic undid Obama’s entire case…

Just because the 1993 law applied only to a “person”, the government cannot claim that this excludes for-profit companies: “no conceivable definition of a ‘person’ includes natural persons and non-profit corporations, but not for-profit corporations.”

Liberals have tackled the whole case by claiming that the owners are “imposing” their religion on their employees by refusing to cover abortion.

But they aren’t.

Hobby Lobby isn’t forcing employees to go to church or recite the Shahada. That would be positive coercion. What they are doing is refraining from engaging in a practice because it violates their religion.

That is not coercing anyone else, even though lefties like the East Ramapo NAACP have tried to claim, for example, that Orthodox Jews who don’t keep a medical office open on Saturday are discriminating against non-Jews.

Those justices, led by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, warned that if some companies can avoid covering contraceptives, others could seek religious waivers for other types of health care, such as vaccines or blood transfusions.

“Today’s potentially sweeping decision minimizes the government’s compelling interest in uniform compliance with laws governing workplaces – in particular, the Affordable Care Act,” Ginsburg said in a dissent read from the bench. “It discounts the disadvantages religion-based opt-outs impose on others – in particular, employees who do not share their employer’s religious beliefs.”

And that’s the crux of the issue.

When you compel employers to provide health care, that still doesn’t trump their First Amendment rights, though labor law has steadily chipped away at the Bill of Rights.

The ruling was hailed by Conestoga CEO Anthony Hahn. “We wholeheartedly affirm what the Supreme Court made clear today – that Americans don’t have to surrender their freedom when they open a family business,” Hahn said. “All Americans, including family business owners, must be free to live and work according to their beliefs without fear of government punishment.”

It’s almost like we live in America… or something.

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  • Sally Snyder

    As shown here, there is one main reason why health care is so unaffordable in the United States:

    http://viableopposition.blogspot.ca/2014/03/the-high-cost-of-hospital-care-in.html



    Unfortunately, because of extremely high health care costs, many American families are forced to declare bankruptcy every year.

    • http://www.stubbornthings.org NAHALKIDES

      The page does not exist, and your post is off-topic as well. The topic here is religious freedom and how it is affirmed by this Supreme Court decision.

  • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

    The is a win for Obamacare. Institutions like the Catholic Church strongly support Obamacare with one exception: the birth-control mandate. Cardinal Dolan said that we, the Catholic Church, would be Obamacare’s greatest cheerleader if the mandate was just removed. He said they had been asking for such comprehensive universal care for a century.

    I advocated removal of the mandate by repeal of Obamacare. That won’t happen now.

    • http://www.stubbornthings.org NAHALKIDES

      I followed most of what you said, Jason. You’re quite right about the Church Bishops – they have taken the point of view that “universal coverage” at gunpoint is good, but aiming that gun at the Church is somehow bad. Republicans should call them on that. But notice that the Bishops did not call for the repeal of Obamacare, the one way their freedom could be secured – they called for a religious exemption, and because of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, they got it. So I agree with you that this is not the mortal blow to Obamacare all lovers of freedom long to see, but the Bishops were never on our side anyway, only their own. Thus we’re still in as strong a position to repeal the monstrosity as we ever were, and in the mean time, the thugs have lost a big one today.

  • Judahlevi

    This is a win for religious freedom and the First Amendment.

    The losers are the liberals/leftists and their argument that secular government trumps religious freedom for individuals. When you look around the world, we need to validate religious freedom more than ever before.

    The beginning of the end of Obama’s disastrous presidency.

  • rbla

    Government should simply pick up the tab for contraception for the poor. In particular there should be affirmative action contraception for minorities. It will be worth it in the long run if you get my drift.

    • http://www.stubbornthings.org NAHALKIDES

      That’s actually happening now in most places, or at least in most large cities. I disagree – we shouldn’t subsidize birth control, but we shouldn’t subsidize out-of-wedlock births either. Of course you have a point as long as we’re paying welfare queens to produce more kids – better to pay for their contraception because it’s less money.

  • rsilverm

    The first good news for conservative values and common sense in a long while. How refreshing.