Thoughts on Hobby Lobby and SCOTUS

SCOTUS - Supreme Court Of the United States.

Today, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, who argued that providing contraceptive care in accordance with the Affordable Care Act violates their first amendment protections and religious liberties. I've seen lots of banter on social media and had heated text conversations with friends on both sides of this, and there's a lot I want to say about it.

First of all, I don't agree with the ruling. I'm not a legal scholar or anything like that - just a guy who reads a lot and has an opinion on many topics. But when a business owner incorporates or protects him/herself behind an LLC, they separate themselves from the company by a corporate veil to protect their personal assets from litigation. When they do that, they give up certain rights that people have, as protected by the constitution. If they don't want to give up those rights, they shouldn't accept the benefits of being incorporated or becoming an LLC. This issue came up several years ago when corporations were found to be individuals for purposes of campaign contributions. As such, their political speech is protected and they can contribute unlimited funds to political causes, through PACs and whatnot. This has always troubled me - I don't like PACs and I don't like the power that corporations have in America. Corporations are not people and should not have the same rights as people.

That being said, the free exercise of religion must remain sacrosanct in the United States. The first amendment that protects Tom Cruise's right to buy his ex-wife's Operating Thetans for $33 million gives me the right to pray and take communion (the flesh and blood of Christ!) and speak in tongues and everything else. There has to be broad tolerance for all kinds of religious exercise, which is good. Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Catholics, evangelicals - all of us deserve the right to practice (or abstain from practicing) religion as we see fit, so long as it isn't infringing on the rights of other people. So I'm sympathetic to the concerns of the pro-life crowd - they sincerely are troubled by and are opposed to abortion; their view is that it is murder. (Full disclosure - I do believe that life begins at conception and I find abortion troubling, but I recognize that it's a complex issue and I hesitate to vilify anyone in regards to this issue.)

All of that said, Hobby Lobby is not opposed to all contraception - their objection is to IUDs, the "Morning After Pill", and abortions. They don't oppose the use of (and coverage of) other contraceptives. From the NYTimes:

"The health care law and related regulations require many employers to provide female workers with comprehensive insurance coverage for a variety of methods of contraception. The companies objected to covering intrauterine devices and so-called morning-after pills, saying they were akin to abortion. Many scientists disagree.

No one has disputed the sincerity of their religious beliefs,” Justice Alito wrote. The dissenters agreed.

The companies said they had no objection to some forms of contraception, including condoms, diaphragms, sponges, several kinds of birth control pills and sterilization surgery. Justice Ginsburg wrote that other companies may object to all contraception, and that the ruling would seem to allow them to opt out of any contraception coverage."

My concerns are with the precedents here. What of a catholic-run for-profit organization that opposes all birth control methods? What of a Jehova's Witness run for-profit corporation that opposes blood transfusions? What of a Christian Science run for-profit organization that doesn't want to provide any health care coverage because they don't believe in going to the doctor, but only in prayer? Can they be exempt from providing health care to their employees? What gives them the right to visit their morality upon their employees? One could cynically dismiss this objection with "if you don't like it, don't work there," but finding work isn't always easy, and for many people, they have to take whatever job is available to them (such an argument was made in Indiana over the smoking ban at bars).

I can see both sides of this argument, and I recognize how difficult it is. But I would appreciate if those who disagree with it wouldn't build dishonest caricatures of Hobby Lobby to express their frustration. As far as I can tell (as reported by the New York Times), Hobby Lobby will still provide coverage for most contraceptives; there are only a handful that they find objectionable. And while I disagree with the ruling, I don't like it when people are sincere in their religious convictions and are vilified for it. That's not productive, and it doesn't do anything to make the problem better.