I’m recycling a title here. I started the theme a few weeks ago in response to the stance taken by some American business enterprises:
Chick-fil-A was the featured enterprise then. Now it’s Hobby Lobby. Full disclosure: The person who runs things in this house is sometimes a customer of Hobby Lobby. Hobby Lobby, Inc. was founded by David Green in 1972. The current president is Steve Green, an evangelical Christian. Green’s other activities include promoting Bible study courses for public schools.
What is at stake here follows from two clauses in the First Amendment of the Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …
The first clause keeps the government from establishing a religion or giving support to a religion. The second clause prevents the government from interfering in the practice of religion. To a point.
I call the second clause the “Right to Act Foolishly in Public Clause.” Clearly, if a sect’s religious practices involve human sacrifice, the law is going to step in. Courts have gone further in allowing legal intrusions. Parents who, for religious reasons, deny medical care to minor children can be and have been prosecuted for felony crimes.
There can be more benign cases. A church that rings its bells too loudly on Sunday morning might be forced to tone it down. A mosque that broadcasts calls to evening prayer too loudly might also find itself in violation of local noise ordnances.
The issue in the Hobby Lobby case is that the Affordable Care Act requires concerns employing 50 or more people to sponsor a health insurance plan. Stop just a moment. I have worked at a number of companies that provided health insurance plans, and in no case was the company required to pay any or all the premiums. Some companies I worked for provided the plans, but I was required to pay the premiums. Nobody has said that employers, and particularly Hobby Lobby, would be required to pay the premiums under the Affordable Care Act.
The deal, then, with Hobby Lobby is the owners of the company, the Green family, do not even want to touch anything smelling of abortion. Contraception is no worry for the Greens. CNN this morning reported that the company has no problem with their insurance plans covering 20 different methods of contraception. The remaining four, the owners have decided, provide the opportunity to induce abortions and thus terminate life. To this they object.
A minor problem is the scientific consensus holds that these four, including the so-called morning after pill, do not have the capability to induce abortion. The owners apparently have their own view of science, which view they obtained from sources unknown. If the Greens reached that view through religious inspiration, then this is yet another case of religion trumping science. Which explains the cover image for this post.
The Public Accommodations Act (Civil Rights Act of 1964) requires public business to serve the public without bias. This was instituted in response to businesses at the time that refused service to certain races and ethnic groups. Courts have more recently extended this protection to people of diverse sexual orientation.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal Monday from a studio that refused to photograph a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony, letting stand a New Mexico high court ruling that helped spur a national debate over gay rights and religious freedom.
As I write this the Supreme Court is preparing to announce its decision in the Hobby Lobby case. I will continue in a few minutes when the decision is announced.
The Court has just handed down the decision in the Hobby Lobby case. CNN reports that legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is reading the decision and will announce the results shortly.
And it’s 5-4, with Justice Samuel Alito writing the opinion. The opinion of the Court is that Hobby Lobby is a “closely-held” concern and, as such, can express its religious preferences contrary to national law.
What’s the impact?
Hobby Lobby’s insurance plan will not be required to cover the objected pharmaceuticals. No big deal. This stuff is cheap. Women do not need insurance to pay for a “morning-after” pill. But wait.
If a doctor’s prescription is required, will there be a stipulation in the insurance plan that no physician will be allowed to prescribe the medication? Some additional digging is required, and I will take that on later.
In the mean time this decision appears to be heavily political. All five justices concurring with the decision were appointed by Republican presidents. All four justices dissenting were appointed by Democratic presidents. All three women in the Court voted against this decision. Surprise, surprise!
No man is going to have his insurance coverage affected by this decision. Again we have decisions affecting only women decided only by men. Folks, that’s the way it is in the Bible. It’s the way it’s always been. It’s the way it’s going to be.
And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.