Freedom of religious conscience, RFRA and the Hobby Lobby case

by Walter Olson on February 26, 2014

Ilya Shapiro sorts out the issues for SCOTUSblog. Earlier here.

{ 3 comments }

1 Hugo S. Cunningham 02.27.14 at 2:11 am

One of the more embarrassing episodes in US libertarian history was opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights bill on the ground that racist innkeepers had a libertarian right to turn away Negro guests, and bigoted employers in secular industries had a libertarian right to discriminate against heretics (“No Irish need apply,” etc.). As with the abolition of slavery a century earlier, the higher Federal power was invoked to defend liberty against oppression by lower-level authorities, both governmental and private.

Leaving abortion aside, the conservative Catholic opposition to birth control is simply wrong, in the same way that Christian Science opposition to medical treatment for a child suffering from a ruptured appendix is wrong. If they don’t want contraception for themselves, fine; if they oppose contraception for nuns and priests, fine; but since 1964 they have lacked the right to impose their dogma on the secular world.

Employers should not be involved in employee health insurance in the first place. As an interim measure, they could be assessed, in addition to the 15% social security payroll tax (split between employer and employee) an 8% health care payroll tax, waivable for employees satisfied with an employer health plan. (This flat-tax idea would also eliminate the incentive to convert full-time jobs to part-time; the employer would be paying the [affordable] tax in either case.)

2 CM 02.27.14 at 6:42 pm

Hugo: 2 things.
1) Hobby Lobby is not fighting most birth control, just the ones they believe are inducing abortions (and they do, depending on your definition of abortion which has always been a hot topic. Even the bill itself states that much). They are big fans of most forms of birth control, as long as it is preventative (aka, keeps an egg from fertilizing in the first place) instead of after the egg has been fertalized (only 4 drugs).

2) Hobby Lobby isn’t forcing their beliefs on anyone. There employees would be free to use any birth control methods they choose, but for these FOUR drugs (out of hundreds) it would just be up to the employee to get it themselves (condoms aren’t free either, no one is in arms out about that).

3 George Lund 02.27.14 at 8:25 pm

I’m having a hard time seeing much of a burden in the requirement that Hobby Lobby’s health care plans offer birth control pills. Hobby Lobby gives (at least) two forms of compensation to their employees: money and paying for part of their health care. Previous to the ACA, only one of these could be used to purchase birth control pills. Now both of them can. That doesn’t seem like a huge burden on them.

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