5 Things Worth Considering About the Hobby Lobby/Conestoga Decision
By Julie Blattenberger and Elijah Coryell
1. Hobby Lobby DOES provide contraceptive care for women.
The Green family provides 16 of the 20 FDA-approved forms of contraceptive care. Their family’s religious conscience only objects to 4 drugs and devices which they believe terminate a life. Employees remain free to make their own personal decisions; family businesses are simply asking not to participate in those decisions.
2. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed by Congress with only 3 dissenting votes.
RFRA was passed in 1993 with sweeping bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. Although critics have made accusations of judicial activism regarding this SCOTUS decision, that is plainly not accurate here. The decision was honoring to the text and spirit of RFRA, which arose out of a public acknowledgement that Americans must be free to live and work while guided by their religious convictions.
3. Corporations can NOT opt out of just any law that violates their religious beliefs (as Justice Ginsburg claims).
The SCOTUS decision provides an appropriate balance of protection for the free-exercise of religion and the interests of the government. It is not a license for any Joe Schmo to duck out of a government regulation. As RFRA states, religious freedom for families and individuals must be protected, except when there is no better way to achieve a “compelling government interest.” As Justice Alito noted, “the decision is concerned solely with the contraceptive mandate and other coverage requirements, such as immunizations, may be supported by different interests and arguments”. Whether contraceptive care is a compelling government interest is a question SCOTUS left for another day—but they did determine other solutions that do not burden the consciences of families.
4. The court confirmed reality: Business owners significantly shape and influence their own corporations.
Corporations are not value-neutral zones. When business owners feel strongly about protecting the environment, they strive to align their business model with sustainable practices. “Corporations, ‘separate and apart from’ the human beings who own, run, and are employed by them, cannot do anything at all.” (Justice Alito) These cases are about families who own and operate successful businesses—not some faceless entity. “When rights, whether constitutional or statutory, are extended to corporations, the purpose is to protect the rights of these people.” (Justice Alito) There’s no reason why family businesses should give up their religious beliefs when they go into business to create jobs and serve others.
5. The freedom to make personal healthcare choices is upheld for ALL Americans!
In a free and diverse society we respect the freedom to live out our convictions. This SCOTUS decision has preserved the freedom for women to make their own personal decisions about contraceptive care, just as it has preserved the freedom for religious adherents to be uninvolved in the healthcare choices of others. Neither women nor religious adherents are forced to become second-class citizens. All Americans, including family business owners, are free to live and work according to their beliefs.