Letter: Clinton wrong in Hobby Lobby ruling

Clinton wrong in Hobby Lobby ruling

Last weekend, Hillary Clinton spoke before hundreds of slavish admirers in the music tent. She expressed outrage about the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision as she imagines it, not as the Supreme Court actually decided the case. (The Aspen Times, July 1, “Hillary Clinton ‘disturbed’ over Hobby Lobby ruling”).

Hillary is reported to object because “it is the first time our court has said that a closely held corporation has the (religious) rights of a person … ” I guess Hillary either didn’t read the opinion or she skipped Constitutional Law. The majority opinion cites several prior cases involving mostly Jewish and Amish-owned for profit corporate businesses whose religious rights were allowed to form the basis of objections to a variety of state and federal laws. Wrong on that count, Hillary.

Hillary further objects that the decision enables corporations to “impose their religious beliefs on their employees and … deny women contraception. … ” Wrong again.

Just read the majority opinion instead of Hillary’s propaganda. The court assumes that the Feds have a “compelling state interest” in offering free contraception and morning-after pills to women. Those mean, old men on the Court had no problem with providing free contraception. They didn’t even have a problem with providing free morning-after pills (the only one to which Hobby Lobby objected). But they pointed out that Health and Human Services had intentionally selected a method of delivering the free pills that interfered with employers’ religious rights, while Health and Human Services rejected other means that didn’t interfere with religious rights. For example, Health and Human Services already had devised a way to make free pills available to employees of religiously objecting nonprofits without involving those nonprofits. Why didn’t Health and Human Services use that method for other religiously objecting corporations, the Supreme Court asked.

The governing law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, was passed almost unanimously by Congress and signed enthusiastically by Hillary’s hubby. It created religious freedoms even broader than the First Amendment. It required application of the “least-invasive means” of achieving the state interest (here, free pills). Health and Human Services easily could extend to closely held for profit corporations the method it was using to provide contraception to nonprofits. It was simple to see, therefore, that there was no need to involve the religiously objecting employers in providing the contraception. Ironically, it is precisely because it is so easy for Health and Human Services to get free contraception to all women without trampling employers’ religious beliefs that the majority invalidated Health and Human Services’ religious suppression.

The majority in Hobby Lobby found it is possible to preserve bot religious liberty and universal access to contraception. Hillary would provide the latter but deny the former. Which result is better for our society?

Maurice Emmer