We know that the parade of horribles trotted out by the government to deny Hobby Lobby’s RFRA rights includes exactly the ones relied on by the Court in Employment Division v. Smith. By enacting RFRA, Congress plainly regarded the parade of horribles as imaginary. So we know that, as a matter of simple statutory interpretation, RFRA’s reach shouldn’t be stunted by the government’s Chicken Little act.
Oral arguments in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby revealed a different, and genuine, parade of horribles that merits attention. Under questioning from Justice Kennedy, the Solicitor General was forced to admit that the Administration’s argument, if accepted, would mean that an abortion mandate could be imposed on for-profit corporations.
HHS claimed the power to make a religious exemption, but a narrow religious exemption of its own choosing—not a broad religious exemption designed to comport with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act enacted by Congress. That’s a deeply troubling result not only for those who care about religious freedom, but for those who care about our constitutional separation of powers.
From the Declaration of Independence through the Revolution, the Civil War through the civil rights movement, Americans have frequently been willing to fight back and assert their rights when overzealous governments tried to take them away. That’s still happening today. The owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties took their turn recently, when their lawyers argued before the Supreme Court.
Cutting through the politicized hype about the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga case (“Corporations have no rights!” “War on Women!”) the Justices during oral argument focused on four serious legal questions, which deserve a serious answer. Stanford law professor Michael McConnell examines each.
The questioning got ugly, fast, when Solicitor General Donald Verrilli began his arguments in favor of the mandate requiring employers to provide contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
The Affordable Care Act returned to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, as the Justices heard a major challenge to the law’s birth-control mandate. Five and maybe even six Justices across ideological lines seemed discomfited by the Administration’s cramped conception of religious liberty.
In a long and lively argument that touched on medical science and moral philosophy, the Supreme Court on Tuesday seemed ready to accept that at least some for-profit corporations may advance claims based on religious freedom.
Hobby Lobby co-founder Barbara Green: “Our family started Hobby Lobby built on our faith and together as a family. We’ve kept that tradition for more than forty years and we want to continue to live out our faith in the way we do business.”
Does our Constitution guarantee the freedom of religion, or does it merely allow a more limited freedom to worship? The difference is profound. Worship is an event. Religion is a way of life.