Posted tagged ‘hobby lobby’

Bake Me A Cake

June 5, 2018

This week, the Supreme Court announced its decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, No. 16-111.  The case centered on whether someone can deny service, otherwise available to all Americans, on the basis of deeply held religious beliefs.  The Masterpiece bakeshop denied the service of a specially designed cake to a gay couple.  The Supreme Court cited the Colorado Civil Rights Commission of unfairly reviewing Masterpiece’s position and simply rejected their religious belief argument out of hand.  The vote was 7-2.

As in the Hobby Lobby case, the Court is attempting to have it both ways.  In the Hobby Lobby case, Hobby Lobby was allowed to not offer insurance coverage of certain drugs, fully legal, and certain medical procedures, also fully legal, which were intended to end pregnancies. With Masterpiece, the Court had already decided that gay marriage was legal and a basic right.  With this decision, however, the Court ruled that deeply held religious beliefs trump basic rights.  Hmmm.

The Court has (IMO) erred grievously and is hopelessly confused on what religious freedom is all about.  The owners of Hobby Lobby should never be forced to end any pregnancy or use any drugs or medical procedures to do so.  And similarly, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop should not be required to marry another person of the same sex.  But when Hobby Lobby denies insurance coverage to its employees when these employees perform jobs similar to millions of other Americans who receive the full insurance coverage, or when Masterpiece receives a wedding cake request from a heterosexual couple and gladly fulfills the request yet deny the request of same sex couples, these situations are not free expression of religious freedom, but rather is discrimination.

The First Amendment is about each Americans right to practice his/her religious beliefs providing these beliefs do not infringe the rights of others.  In these two decisions the Court has said “religious freedom” can trump other persons’ rights depending upon who the other person is.  Hmmm.

Hobby United?

March 24, 2014

The Supreme Court will hear arguments today over whether a “for profit” corporation has religious rights like those of an individual under the First Amendment. The question is whether Hobby Lobby or any other “for profit” corporation can deny legal benefits to its employees if, in the opinion of the corporation owners, these benefits violate the owners religious beliefs.

The case is based upon a real company, Hobby Lobby, with real owners who are religious, sincere people. These owners believe that certain Affordable Care Act covered birth control methods are unacceptable when held up to their religious beliefs. Hobby Lobby does not want to provide these benefits although they are willing to provide the rest of the Affordable Care Act’s benefits.

There would seem no dispute that Hoppy Lobby owners themselves are free to not use these birth control benefits. The problem arises, however, when Hobby Lobby denies employees with different religious views (or no religious views) access to these benefits.

Proponents of Hobby Lobby have argued that just because Hobby Lobby owners established a for profit businesses they should not have to give up their religious views. This is a red herring argument because the owners do not have to give up their personal religious views (as it pertains to how they lead their own lives). The Affordable Care Act simply requires that healthcare policies contain certain mandatory coverage. This requirement applies to all employers (with certain limited exceptions for purely religious organizations).

Others have said that Hobby Lobby as a corporation can claim the same rights of individuals (like Citizens United). This is another red herring. Religious views come in all sorts of sizes and shapes.  There are people who, for religious reasons, claim that immunization, blood transfusions, or even medical care are unnecessary on the basis of religious views.

How can it be that individuals or corporations composed of these individuals can deny others legally protected services or rights? What do you think of Fred Phelps and his religious views?

From my perspective, it is difficult to understand why the Supreme Court has taken this case. It should be obvious that the US can not allow one religion to asset it views on members of other religions, or on those who profess no faith. In addition to the Fred Phelps of the world, what about orthodox Jews or fundamentalist Muslim? Would Hobby Lobby like to follow their teachings?

Of course, in America there is a history of allowing all religious traditions the right to “personally” practice their religion but some beliefs like polygamy have run into problems.  In a secular country, there must be a bright line between what someone believes for themselves, and how much they can force these views on others.

Hobby Lobby, Hmmm

November 26, 2013

The Supreme Court is in the line of fire again.  The Court must decide whether it will hear a government appeal of a 10th circuit court ruling.  In its ruling the 10th circuit said Hobby Lobby did not need to provide the full range of women’s health procedures as spelled out in the Affordable Care Act.  The reasoning was based upon the 1st Amendment and Hobby Lobby, although a corporation, should be treated as an individual as in “Citizens United”.  Hmmm.

From all accounts, the owners of Hobby Lobby are decent religious people.  They claim that certain forms of birth control allowed in ACA are in fact abortion, and on the basis of their religious beliefs, they do not want to be forced to provide this coverage.

The Hobby Lobby argument is not unlike Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s.  And Hobby Lobby’s argument should be rejected for the same reason.  Simply stated, no employer should be able to deny any benefit available by law to anyone based solely upon the employer’s religious beliefs.  No one is being forced to use these benefits and everyone is free to decline.

This obvious argument, apparently, will not be the thrust of the appeal.  Rather, it will be argued along Byzantine thinking that corporations are or are not “people”.  The Citizens United decision said that corporations had a “1st Amendment right” to free speech and therefore could exercise this right in the political arena.  Hobby Lobby reasons that since it is a corporation, it has a right to exercise its religious views (held by people).   ACA interferes with the free exercise of them.

The 1st Amendment “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” was never meant to mean that one religion can foist its views upon others.  It was meant that each person had a right to practice their religious beliefs by themselves without interference from others by law.

As honorable as Hobby Lobby’s owners might be, they should be free only to decline to use personally those parts of ACA they do not agree with.