Friday, July 11, 2014

Reflections on HHS vs Hobby Lobby

I dare say less than one person in one hundred has read the US Supreme Court Decision on HHS v Hobby Lobby yet everyone is ready to leap to their support or condemnation of this decision based on what those they like put out as “truth.”  We turn rational argument into emotional war based not on what law and precedent establish, but on what we want the answer to be.  Things some of us don’t like are:  corporations are, in the eyes of the law, afforded the same constitutional protection as an individual, and that not all birth control has to be funded by a “closely held” corporation that is able to show a religious opposition -- as protected by the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.”
Interestingly, the RFRA was introduced as HR 1308 by Congressman Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and it had 170 co-sponsors (the majority of which were Democrats), was agreed to by the Senate on a 97-3 vote, and signed into law by President Clinton.
Just think, if in the early 1990’s Democrats hadn’t been worried about proving they a support a workers free exercise of religion, and obligated the Government to show a compelling need before it is restricted, the US Supreme Court would have ruled differently.  I guess the lesson here is laws that look good today, may have unintended consequences later on.
I wonder how many really understand that the issue isn’t centered on the funding, or its elimination, of all contraceptive methods, but on those specific to four methods that terminate pregnancy post conception.  If Congress had wanted to insure that all contraception was mandated they should have included it in the law so the will of Congress was unmistakable, but they didn’t.  They deferred to the Executive Branch to decide what to do.  In this, the Democratic party controlling Congress rolled the dice, or as Speaker Pelosi said, - We need to pass this law so we can read what's in it.
Writing in dissent, Justice Ginsburg, joined by Justices Sotomayor, Breyer and Kagan, seem to base their arguments on the issue that only the woman has a right to determine what is appropriate for birth control and  the corporation imposes on that right by their refusal to fund the four post conception methods.  They believe that the RFRA was not intended to influence this kind of exercise, and additionally Congress did not intend it to cover a “for profit” corporation.   Unfortunately for them, the Congress was not specific in the language of the law, leaving it up to the Court to decide what they intended.
As Ms. Meagan Kelly, Fox News, pointed out, there was nothing in this decision that made the four methods in question illegal, it just meant the corporations did not have to violate the religious beliefs of the families who hold ownership of the corporation by paying for them since alternative contraceptive methods are available.  Yet from the public outcry you would think we’ve condemned all women to slavery.

Many will see this as a crack that will allow all corporations to do what they want, and will rise up in self-righteous indignation.  I think they are wrong, but my opinion and the words in the courts opinion, will count little as the masses are stirred in opposition to this violation of a woman's right.
So now we have the same people who rushed to craft the RFRA in the early 90’s rushing to push new legislation to address the SCOTUS ruling they don’t like.  I wonder how far that will get and what unintended consequence they will create for the nation in 10 to 20 years as they once again use their power to play wack a mole?

1 comment:

Jeannette said...

I just don't get it John, you write as if it is worthwhile to think things through and follow the dots to the logical conclusions? Now that is old school...keep it up!

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