Hobby Lobby reaffirms religious liberty, one of the bedrock principles of the Constitution

For all the things the Hobby Lobby decision does — and you can read Jason Pye’s piece on the relevant parts of Alito’s decision here — there are few things it does that will have reverberating ramifications for the future of everything from defining contraceptives as preventative or abortifacient, to whether or not our Constitution is a flawed document full of “negative liberties” as our President once declared.

But for now, the most important thing to remember is that this image being thrown around social media is a lie:

Lie

It’s a lie on so many levels and it’s tremendously disturbing that the kids are sharing it as truth. First, the opinion is narrow. It applies only to “closely-held” corporations who can prove they have a religious objection. Is your boss the owner of a closely held corporation?

Second, no one is denying you access to anything. You are free at any time to buy any of the four types of products the decision says Hobby Lobby does not have to supply. (Hobby Lobby, by the way, offers 16 other types in their health coverage. Those crazy fascist religious righties.)

Third, Hobby Lobby would have preferred to stay out of this fight altogether, as HotAir.com points out. They were forced to fight this fight because the federal government was violating their religious rights. They would likely agree that it is not their business:

WINDHAM: Hobby Lobby would love to stay out of this, and leave this decision to a woman and her doctor. It’s the federal government that told them that they had to be involved and cover these things, even though they violated the Green family’s faith.

Finally, on the Venn diagram of contraception, abortifacients are their own circle. They are not condoms. They prevent the egg from implanting. And that’s where Hobby Lobby drew the line. But again, Plan B is available to you at drugstores.

The Federalist has an excellent piece on some other takeaways from the decision, most notably that the government must provide the same religious liberty exemption to private, closely-held companies as they do to non-profits. Presumably because both kinds of organizations are made up of people who are covered by the Constitutional right to religious liberty:

1) The government must provide religious accommodations to for-profit companies

Corporations aren’t people, but they are owned by people, and the religious beliefs of those people must be protected regardless of how those people choose to incorporate their businesses. The court ruled today that the accommodations provided to non-profit religious organizations by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act also apply to for-profit companies.

“[W]e hold that a federal regulation’s restriction on the activities of a for-profit closely held corporation must comply with [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” Alito wrote in the majority decision.

It’s a big win for religious liberty and for the belief that your faith no longer matters once you decide to open a business.

Alito puts it very simply in his decision:

“Although HHS has made this system available to religious nonprofits that have religious objections to the contraceptive mandate, HHS has provided no reason why the same system cannot be made available when the owners of for-profit corporations have similar religious objections.”

Pretty simple. HHS couldn’t prove that the religious liberty exemption was some rarefied situation that only applied to the people that ran non-profits.

But perhaps the most stunning result of this decision is that the Constitution was reaffirmed as the law of the land, one that can be amended, but that must be upheld in lieu of the amendment process, regardless of public opinion. This may speak in practical terms and in future court cases to the fight over judicial activism and executive overreach more than it speaks even to religious freedom.

In short, there is a process to massage and enforce new constitutional precepts, but ramming down the throats of the American people a massive law that is only tacitly legal and possibly unread is no way to do it.


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