Thursday, July 03, 2014

A.S. Haley: From the President on down, the Left Can’t Understand Hobby Lobby

July 1, 2014

...But Hobby Lobby was not a decision under the Constitution; the First Amendment had nothing to do with it. It applied the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a statute passed by Congress almost unanimously and signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton, to invalidate a mandate issued by the Executive branch under a putative authorization from Congress in the Patient Protection and  Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The RFRA requires government, in enacting a law or policy of general application, to select the alternative that imposes the least burden upon religious freedom.

Obamacare itself did not require employers to offer insurance coverage for contraceptive measures. It simply used broader language (“preventive care and screenings”), which the Health and Human Services Agency under President Obama interpreted as including contraception and abortion services. (Yes, Virginia, our enlightened society views the killing of fetuses both inside and outside the womb as “preventive care.” And not only that, but all women are entitled to have such “preventive care” for free, just by virtue of their having wombs.)

The Court’s majority decision turned upon an analysis that showed there were other, less burdensome alternatives available to the government than requiring all corporate employers to make contraceptive and abortion coverage available to their employees. To accommodate employers such as Hobby Lobby, with their strongly held religious beliefs against terminating life once it has begun, the government could simply have extended the exemption it gave already to religious non-profit organizations.  Or it could have subsidized such coverage through payments and credits to insurers.

The availability of these less burdensome alternatives meant that the HHS regulations in this instance did not satisfy the requirements of RFRA. End of story; end of decision. As I said, the Court nowhere invoked the First Amendment or the Constitution... the rest

Hobby Lobby Beat the Contraception Mandate but the Nuns May Not  ...So when those cases reach the Supreme Court, why wouldn’t the Little Sisters eventually receive the same treatment, or even greater deference, than a corporation like Hobby Lobby or Conestoga Wood Specialties, its Mennonite-owned co-plaintiff?
The key difference is that the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) has already offered an accommodation to faith-based nonprofits that allows them to sign a waiver giving a third-party administrator permission to take care of the birth control coverage, with no further involvement by the religious group.
The Little Sisters and others argue that even signing such a waiver entangles them in something they view as morally objectionable. (Hobby Lobby and other plaintiffs do not object to contraception per se but are concerned about what they say is mandated coverage of abortion-causing drugs.)...


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