Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Hobby Lobby Slippery Slope

The issue of Hobby Lobby vs. Sibelius has brought many interesting issues to light.  The Displaced Plainsman examines the issue through the lens of the free market.  To me the issue of Hobby Lobby refusing to follow a law over religious objections is a slippery slope for corporations and businesses to not follow other governmental mandates because of a religious exemption claim.  

One step toward the downhill slide of the slippery slope is the idea that non-religious corporations can be granted religious protections.  Amy Davidson with The New Yorker wrote back in 2013, 

The other way to look at it is that Hobby Lobby is making a broad claim, not a narrow one, about the character of contraceptive coverage: that it is different, that it is distinctly more of a religious question than a health one. In this sense, the Hobby Lobby case is about whether the Supreme Court will privilege a particular set of religious beliefs about contraception. 
Hobby Lobby argues that the law already grants exemption to religious institutions, like churches; the Administration has even come up with a work-around for religiously affiliated entities, like Catholic hospitals, in which the payment for contraception is essentially made by the insurance company. Why can’t it have one, too? There is also a well-developed definition of what a religious organization is, which Hobby Lobby doesn’t meet (and of a corporation, which it benefits from). It might as well ask why it can’t choose which taxes it does and doesn’t pay. Congress made a choice, largely political, and also guided by a couple of centuries of constitutional history, about what could and should be asked of religious organizations. It didn’t just ask every synagogue, mosque, and church what it was and wasn’t willing to cover.  (emphasis is mine)
It seems that one justice in particular is taking up mantle that all corporations are religious human beings that should have their rights protected.  Justice Alito asks the question and gets the response as reported on NPR (probably one of the best places for Supreme Court coverage on radio or TV):
Alito focused on a different question: Why for-profit corporations should be barred from making claims that their religious rights are being infringed. "You say they can't ever get their day in court?" 
He was told by the government that precedent has been clear that business are not given the same religious protections when it comes to exemptions from certain laws.  Justice Elena Kagan sees the danger in Alito's thinking (from the same NPR report)
Justice Elena Kagan observed that using that reasoning, an employer might have a religious objection to complying with sex discrimination laws, minimum wage laws, family leave laws and child labor laws, to name just a few. 
So, I guess that businesses all over will hope for the Supreme Court's ruling.  It means that now they will be able to turn the rights of workers back to the early 1800's.  That would only be the Christian thing to do. 

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