The overreaction to Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores is even worse than the HHS overreach that led to the decision. The blowback in the short aftermath of Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling is huge and far more distorted than most political hyperbole. As a result, some of our completely gullible citizens are threatening to burn down the retailer’s locations.
What is the big deal? The Court held that the exercise of religion may only be hampered by (1) a compelling government interest (2) that cannot be met in any other way. The specific basis for the decision was the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
The Hobby Lobby Court applied RFRA (pronounced like a dog’s cough) to a closely held corporation in its fight against certain Obamacare regulations. The regulations, referred to collectively as the contraceptive mandate, were promulgated by faceless bureaucrats in the Health and Human Services labyrinth.
The contraceptive mandate requires employers to provide, gratis, 20 types of “contraceptives” to female employees, including four that expel fertilized eggs. The expulsion of fertilized eggs violates the religious beliefs of the family who owns Hobby Lobby and it challenged the enforceability of the mandate.
In siding with Hobby Lobby, the majority of the Court found that the contraceptive mandate violated the owners’ religious beliefs. It also found that the government had reasonable alternatives in providing the four objectionable contraceptives to employees.
The overreaction to the decision began immediately and quickly escalated out of control. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) stated, incorrectly, that the case “jeopardizes women’s access to essential health care. Employers have no business intruding in the private health care decisions women make with their doctors.”
In fact, Hobby Lobby was decided precisely because it does not jeopardize access to health care. That is, the government can, and will, provide alternative sources of the four contraceptives that Hobby Lobby refused to fund.
In fact, the Administration is already talking about executive orders to provide alternative access to the contraceptives. The alternative may be the same one that already exists for religious non-profits that assign the obligation to insurance companies.
The most flagrantly dishonest mischaracterization of the Hobby Lobby ruling came from Hillary Clinton. She was desperate to get her personal wealth gaffes off the front page. Creating an ugly diversion out of Hobby Lobby was just the ticket. Among other things, Clinton likened the decision to the oppression suffered by women in countries that are “very unstable, anti-democratic, and frankly prone to extremism.” The extremism to which Clinton refers is actually her own.
Back on Planet Earth, Alan Dershowitz called Hobby Lobby “monumentally insignificant” for two reasons. It was based on a federal statute, not the constitution. And, not a single woman will be denied contraceptive care because of available alternatives. Dershowitz, Professor Emeritus at Harvard Law School, is a constitutional lawyer who has been described as one of the nation’s most distinguished defenders of individual liberties. And he’s not running for political office.
But, the worst thing about Hobby Lobby is not the gross misrepresentation by those who seek personal political advantage. The worst thing is that the contraceptive mandate was an HHS regulation. It was not contained in the thousands of pages of the Obamacare law passed by Congress. It was not even inserted by a presidential executive order.
It is a bureaucratic brainchild. That fact should have our gullible citizens threatening to burn down HHS facilities instead. The power of bureaucrats to impinge upon fundamental freedoms is something truly frightening. Those folks live far beyond the accountable reach of the electoral process and reality itself and, apparently, they can’t be fired. This is the “unstable, anti-democratic” process that Clinton should rail against.
Meanwhile, voters favor the Hobby Lobby decision by a 10-point margin.