Supreme Court Gets One Right in Hobby Lobby, Stops HHS Mandate

July 3, 2014

Concerned Women for America celebrate the Hobby Lobby decision

On Monday, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby (opinion available from the Supreme Court’s Web site).

  • The National Review editors concisely sum up what the decision means, as opposed to what its critics say it means.
    Hobby Lobby Hysteria”

All that has changed is that employers are a little freer to refuse to engage in conduct they consider religiously objectionable. That this increase in freedom makes some people so very upset tells us more about them than about the Court’s ruling.

On the liberal echo chamber:

. . . in today’s case, the court was not elevating corporations above actual human beings. It was interpreting an act of Congress where Congress in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act itself said that corporations, along with people and along with unions, should be able to argue that something needlessly burdens their religion. . . . That’s not as radical a decision as some people think.

. . . we’ll do a lot better trying to understand what’s really going on inside the minds of all these people rather than just doing kind of cardboard cut-out caricatures.

  • (More from Ed Whelan specifically on that liberal line that this case represents a victory of big bad corporations over the little guy)

Culture and personal experiences:

As I walked up to the Supreme Court this morning, all I could do was think and pray. . . .

Being present when the Supreme Court announced the Hobby Lobby decision on Monday was a moment of joy I will never forget. I was standing next to two friends who are mothers and lawyers and who work professionally to build a culture of life. The three of us were surrounded by about a hundred young, smart, enthusiastic pro-life women who were cheering at the news. It was a culminating moment of emotion and a feeling of justice that will not easily be dimmed.

Legal details and other particulars:

  • Ed Whelan and Ramesh Ponnuru argue that the case does not mean that the Obama administration’s phony 2012 “accommodation” (for selected employers, theoretically the insurance company, rather than the employer, would pay for the objectionable coverage) will ultimately stand, contrary to what some have supposed.

Matt Bowman: Hobby Lobby Ruling Applies to More Than Just Abortifacients”

Hannah Smith:

. . . the 100-plus non-profit religious ministries — like Little Sisters of the Poor (an order of nuns caring for the elderly poor), Eternal Word Television Network (a Catholic network founded by a cloistered nun), and Wheaton College (an evangelical college) — currently litigating the HHS mandate in the lower courts should breathe a sigh of relief for three reasons.

. . .

Quin Hillyer:

. . . if the force of the high court’s decision in Hobby Lobby is such that two otherwise unwilling judges recognize that it weighs heavily in EWTN’s favor in its largely-but-not-entirely-related case, the likelihood is high that the Obama administration will now suffer a whole series of losses in cases against the HHS mandate.

In Justice Ginsburg’s view of the matter, an incorporated kosher deli could be forced to carry non-kosher goods; an independent Catholic hospital with a lay board could be required to provide abortions; a closely-held market owned by Seventh-day Adventists could be required to open on Saturdays; and an incorporated retail store owned by Muslims could be forced to carry liquor.

  • Callie Gable asks whether government-mandated free contraceptives even reduce the incidence of unintended pregnancy in the first place.

More big-picture commentary:

Hot Air and Hobby Lobby’s attorney agree.

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 . . . .

A few hours later, Senator Harry Reid’s office pushed out an assessment that was cut from the same unlovely cloth. “It’s time that five men on the Supreme Court stop deciding what happens to women,” Reid tweeted. Among the hysterical, that sentiment was ubiquitous.

One cannot help but wonder whether Kristof and Reid are aware of what the Supreme Court actually does — which, as anybody who has even a fleeting grasp of American civics knows, is not to set American policy, on health or anything else, but to interpret and uphold the law.

Update (July 4th, 2014):  A liberal friend posted on Facebook,

All of the furor over the Hobby Lobby case has me wondering… am I the only one who believes that healthcare plans should not be determined by your employer? Why should your employer know what pills you take, and determine what treatments are available to you? Why should a decision to start your own business change what healthcare options are available to you? This whole notion of having employer funded health care as our primary system is broken.

I agree, we shouldn’t be getting health insurance through our employers.  Maybe that’s something we can all unite on!  But conservatives have been saying this for years.  As Kevin Williamson pointed out, for example (linked above), John McCain was advocating such a reform in 2008.

My friend then calls for nationalizing health care.  (“My theory is to open ‘Medicare’ to all, and charge those who can afford it. . . .”)  But that solves nothing; it’s open to the same criticism:  Why should your government know what pills you take, and determine what treatments are available to you?

(He adds, “If you want to obtain something above/beyond standard coverage, you can always go to a special doctor and pay cash for whatever non-standard treatments you want,” but of course that’s the case for Hobby Lobby employees as well; it’s apples to apples.)

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