One thing is certain, the decision has cost Hobby Lobby a small fortune in legal fees while those opposed to Hobby Lobby’s position wanted to drive the company out of business.
To hear the Democrats tell it the proverbial sky is falling in the world of women’s rights. Yes, you’ve got it, this is the same Democratic Party who believes that government is the answer to everything from the light bulbs you use, the showerheads and toilets in your home. These are the same Democrats who think it’s perfectly ok to tell you what kind of insurance you can buy, what procedures your doctor’s can perform and what medicines your doctor can prescribe.
This week Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said “Republicans want to do everything they can to have the long hand of government, and now the long hand of business, reach into a women’s body and make healthcare decisions for her.”
This was followed by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) who said ““Your health care decisions are not your boss’s business… Since the Supreme Court decided it will not protect women’s access to health care, I will.”
Against a backdrop where the same Democratic party supports at all costs the notion that the NSA has the right to probe into your personal emails and phone calls, and that the IRS has the right to investigate you if you hold certain political beliefs, one can’t help but to be skeptical about the Democrats selective outrage.
The Democrats seek to seize the issue and have already begun sending fundraising appeals headlined “Supreme Court decides that corporate rights trump women’s rights.”
An objective look at what the Supreme Court did and did not do might be helpful, as well as rational. It is clear that the Supreme Court’s split 5-4 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby is neither the biased assault on women’s rights alleged by the Democrats or the major victory and expansion of religious freedom claimed by the Republicans.
The Hobby Lobby ruling is one where the Court issued a narrowly tailored decision in an attempt to balance the religious conscience claims of owners of closely held businesses against the government’s interest in ensuring that employees of those businesses receive health coverage, including full access to contraception services.
In the majority opinion Justice Samuel Alito wrote “Protecting the free-exercise rights of corporations like Hobby Lobby, protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control those companies.”
As Justice Alito also explained, the majority opinion is “concerned solely with the contraceptive mandate”. The fact that the Obama administration had already issued waivers for nonprofit organizations with religious objections to the contraceptive mandate gave the Court the impetus it needed to decide in favor of Hobby Lobby.
The high Court found that the government may have a compelling interest in full health care coverage for women, but since the government could accomplish that interest and at the same time protect religious conscience, (as it has done with religious nonprofits), then the government must make the accommodation for closely held businesses.
The uproar is nothing more than political theatre in creating issues for the mid-term elections, because in the shadow of the Hobby Lobby decision, the Obama administration will now create a workaround for closely held corporations with religious objections to some forms of contraception. It will be fashioned around the accommodation already in place for religious non-profits. This work around will provide that in cases where the insurer excludes contraceptive coverage from the employer’s plan, the government will provide separate payments for contraceptive services.
The result will be a balance between the religious rights of owners and women employees. This outcome appears to uphold American principles and ideals, because it strikes a balance between religious claims of conscience and laws designed to serve the common good.
Since the founding of our great republic, the United States has provided for the religious freedoms of its citizens. In the past Quakers and others were exempt from service in our military as conscientious objectors such as boxer Muhammad Ali, Jehovah’s Witnesses are routinely allowed to refuse life saving blood transfusions, children in schools were permitted to sit or leave the room during the pledge of allegiance, Native Americans to use peyote in religious ceremonies and many more.
One thing is clear, it is without doubt that both sides will make political hay of the decision in an effort to stir up their base for the mid term elections.