Robert E. Meyer
July 19, 2014
The recent Hobby Lobby SCOTUS decision has brought about a hue and cry representing a chorus of scorched cats. It becomes almost impossible to exaggerate the hysterical theatrics used to denounce the supposed negative repercussions of this decision.
While the conservative wing of the Supreme Court is being castigated as incompetent, it should be considered that this situation arose chiefly because one of those justices ruled that Obamacare could be implemented as a tax, much to the chagrin of the other conservatives on the Court, as well as conservatives at large.
After it's all said and done, nobody seems to notice that this conflict was created when we passed a healthcare bill that mandated employers pay for abortifacient drugs, which violated their liberty of conscience. First, this mandate was pressed against ancillary organizations of the Roman Catholic Church and, the Obama Administration still didn't get the message that their policies were overreaches.
Take a look at Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dissenting logic. "Would the exemption...extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah's Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatine..."
This raises the question of what is actually a necessary "medical treatment." The court provided a very nuanced decision here, not the sort of hypothetical hyperbole that Ginsburg puts forth. In addition, the feminist movement has continuously viewed, this, and related issues, as assaults on women's rights, rather than an effort to strengthen protection of personhood.
I can only shake my head in dismay when people argue that life does not begin at conception, but at implantation, yet support partial-birth abortions. It shows their real motivations behind drawing the exception.
Part of the problem is that Ginsburg conflates access to free abortifacients with essential and, possibly lifesaving treatments, such as blood transfusions. Not only is this a stretch, but we have seen cases where parents who have denied their children necessary healthcare have been prosecuted for abuse or neglect, despite religious objections. It would seem that there is a standard of what is a reasonably necessary medication or procedure which extends beyond a religious liberty exemption. Religious liberty cannot trump issues that jeopardize public safety. A religious group cannot claim their right to religious liberty in the ritual sacrifice virgins exceeds public interest against the practice.
People forget that more than a century ago, Mormons were denied the right to practice legal polygamy based on religious liberty. Such a practice was banned as being out of step with public standards. Ginsburg should be breathing a bit easier. All this is yet another battle in the politically expedient "War on Women" template.
Let's be honest. People who are indifferent or hostile toward religious faith seem willing to infinitely narrow the scope of religious freedom. One fellow posting in an E-mail forum informed me that the free exercise of religion belonged in the living room, not the public sphere. Free exercise of religion is the first right mentioned in the Bill of Rights. I wonder if he then applies the living room principle to his "free speech" covered by the same First Amendment? While it's easy to respond to the presentation of a poor argument, dealing with an irrational assertion is far more difficult because such a person is immune to persuasion. Few people will expose their ignorance with such a biased comment, but you can bet they think the living room standard would and should apply in a perfect liberal world, where religious conviction is for the closet, not to be seen or heard by those who loath it.
Another frequent respondent argues that all Christian claims pertaining to an assault on religious freedom are just delusions of victimization. But this argument is quickly answered, when we observe the modern trend, that constitutionally speaking, when religious liberty comes into conflict with other "rights," whether they are newly created or questionable applications of existing rights, the other issue nearly always trumps religious liberties. Again, this is due to a capricious or contemptible attitude toward religious liberty.
Many on the left who have condemned this decision have sidestepped the real issue and characterized this as "another" pro-corporation power play by the conservative wing of SCOTUS. This decision narrowly applies to closely held family run businesses, where it is difficult to distinguish the family's ethic from the corporate culture. That's hardly the case with large conglomerates.
I have no love for corrupt corporate executives, but we need some consistency here. If corporations should never be considered people, then there should no longer be a demand that CEO's be prosecuted for the 2008 financial meltdown either.
You can't have it both ways.
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