Hobby Lobby Ruling: Surely, There's Enough Room for Us All to Celebrate
Should the government force us to buy things?
Should the government force us to buy things that violate our consciences?
Should the government force us to buy things that violate our consciences… for other people?
Before you immediately assume this article is about contraceptives and the Hobby Lobby case, take a moment to imagine this question more generally. Think of it as a matter of principle, not a matter of on which side of the ideological fence you find yourself. Conservatives generally resist “big government” forcing us to do anything. Liberals see “big government” as a way to fix all kinds of situations, a surrogate for parents, a counterfeit common sense, an unsuitable conscience.
Allowing the government to grow beyond its constitutionally determined boundaries is bad for everyone, because it suddenly is doing things it has no right to be doing. Would you want your carpenter to take care of your heart issues? Would you want Kodak to be in charge of your lawn care? McDonald’s selling shoes? Hanes selling apples?
No, you want people and entities to stay in their lanes. The government should stick to building roads, providing for a common defense, securing the borders, and making sure you’re not buying dog meat disguised as filet mignon at your local grocery store. If it did what it was supposed to do, it might be relatively good at its jobs.
However, it’s grown like a beanstalk into very dangerous territory.
Liberals wouldn’t stand for this kind of behavior from conservatives.
Imagine Republicans win the White House and Congress during the next election cycle. What if they ended up requiring companies to pay for Bibles for all their employees that want them? Sure, people could pick them up for free at their local hotels the next time they went out of town. They could also walk into any church in America and get a brand new one. Or, they could pick up a copy at Walmart. However, these newly elected bureaucrats want to make sure everyone has a Bible. Studies show that being a practicing Christian is good for your health, after all. Consider it a matter of public health.
Shouldn't employers be able to refuse to do that? Wouldn't that violate their religious freedom if those overreaching conservatives required them to do that?
Of course it would.
Any reasonable American would fight that kind of mandate.
This week, Americans who believe in freedom gained a critical victory in the Hobby Lobby case. In a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government cannot force closely held companies to provide contraception to employees in violation of their religious rights.
Our religious liberties survive yet a little while longer.
Victory in this pivotal case was only possible because of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a 1993 law that subjects federal action infringing on people’s religious beliefs to strict scrutiny, the highest standard that federal courts apply. The Supreme Court determined that Obamacare’s contraception mandate impermissibly burdened the freedom of religion and could not pass this high threshold. In fact, my good friend Michael Farris is the attorney who chaired the group of lawyers responsible for drafting the language of RFRA. In fact, President Clinton wisely championed RFRA, which President Obama clearly and brazenly violated.
In truth, the real fight for our freedoms is just beginning. It is disconcerting that in a country founded on principles of religious liberty, this liberty survives by only a single vote.
The steps we take now must be for the future. We must secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity. The federal government should not be passing healthcare mandates. Federal agencies should not have the power to enact specific provisions like the contraception mandate, which came from Department of Health and Human Services, not Congress.
There is hope.
Michael Farris and I are leading the Convention of States Project (www.conventionofstates.com) to curtail the federal abuses of power that are behind these attacks on liberty. Our goal is simple. Article V of the Constitution gives the states equal power with Congress to propose amendments to the Constitution via a convention. We aim to hold just such a convention to limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government and bring an end to this tyrannical trampling of our precious liberties.
Naysayers claim that good laws and constitutional amendments don’t make any difference. The Hobby Lobby case proves them wrong. If not for RFRA, the outcome in this case would’ve been very different, and the impact on religious liberty could’ve been devastating.
I encourage you all to stand with Michael Farris and me, to fight for the good laws of tomorrow that can create a free society for all people – whether they’re searching for contraceptives for Friday night or a Bible for church on Sunday.
Surely there’s room enough in this great nation for us all.
Mark Meckler is the President of Citizens for Self-Governance, which created the Convention of States Project.