The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., a case about whether the federal mandate that for-profit corporations must cover comprehensive medical care (including contraception) for their employees under the Affordable Care Act violates federal law (the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act) and the religious freedom rights of the corporation.
Three federal appeals courts around the country have struck down the contraception coverage rule, while two other appeals courts have upheld it. That "circuit split" made a Supreme Court review more likely. Among the plaintiffs is Hobby Lobby, Inc. a nationwide chain of about 500 for-profit arts and crafts stores. David Green and his family are the owners and say their Christian beliefs clash with parts of the law's mandates for comprehensive coverage. They say some of the drugs that would be provided prevent human embryos from being implanted in a woman's womb, which the Greens equate to abortion. The privately held company does not object to funding other forms of contraception -- such as condoms and diaphragms -- for their roughly 13,000 employees, which Hobby Lobby says represent a variety of faiths. Companies that refuse to provide the coverage could be fined up to $1.3 million daily.David Green frames the argument this way:
"This legal challenge has always remained about one thing and one thing only: the right of our family businesses to live out our sincere and deeply held religious convictions as guaranteed by the law and the Constitution. Business owners should not have to choose between violating their faith and violating the law.”The Friendly Atheist responds:
On that matter, this isn’t just a war on Green’s “religious conscience.” This is a war on science and sex. Green doesn’t care that the FDA has said birth control pills don’t cause abortions — rather, they prevent abortions from happening, which you would think he’d totally support — but he believes they cause abortions. So there. And it’s hardly a surprise that an evangelical would be opposed to women having sex that doesn’t lead to a child, though Green has no problem paying for his employees’ Viagra pills…
David Green thinks his religious beliefs ought to trump those of his employees. He doesn’t want them making their own health care decisions; he thinks he knows better than they do.
There’s another issue here, too: If the Supreme Court rules in Green’s favor, where is the line drawn? What if a business owner is a Jehovah’s Witness who doesn’t believe in blood transfusions? Or a Christian Scientist who believe in the power of prayer over medicine?
That the Supreme Court thinks this is a case worth hearing is frightening. That they could rule in the religious owners’ favor is a disaster in the making.What if a business owner believes AIDS is God's punishment and that their religious beliefs would be violated if they paid for HIV treatment? Should businesses be allowed to not offer health plans that cover treatments for sexually transmitted infections if their religious beliefs say that sex outside of marriage should be punished?
Religious belief is so inherently arbitrary (and varied) that it simply doesn't make any sense for the religious beliefs of corporate owners to determine what kind of health benefits their employees receive. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Hobby Lobby by determining that corporations have cognizable constitutional rights to freedom of religion it could radically restructure the religious balance of American society in as dramatic a fashion as the Supreme Court's decision in Citizen United has negatively impacted our electoral process.
Hat/tip to Joe.My.God