by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
There’s been plenty of outrage — or at least “outrage” — from the political left in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision. Alex Adrianson of the Heritage Foundation’s “Insider Online” examines the most misinformed objections to the court’s ruling.
There was a lot of misinformation peddled about the Supreme Court’s ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby this week. Liberals claimed variously that corporations now have more rights than people, that they can prevent women from getting birth control, that they can refuse to cover any medical procedure at all, and that they will soon be opting out of minimum wage and anti-discrimination laws. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg herself expressed some of those views in her dissent. Other commentators even wondered whether paying taxes could become optional. …
Of course, contraception is still legal. It might even still be free (to the user at the point of delivery, that is) if the government extends to for-profits the accommodation it created for non-profits or decides to finance the benefit directly. So what’s all the outrage about? Julian Sanchez opines that it’s about cultural signaling:
The outrage does make sense, of course, if what one fundamentally cares about—or at least, additionally cares about—is the symbolic speech act embedded in the compulsion itself. In other words, if the purpose of the mandate is not merely to achieve a certain practical result, but to declare the qualms of believers with religious objections so utterly underserving of respect that they may be forced to act against their convictions regardless of whether this makes any real difference to the outcome. [Cato Institute, June 30]
Contrary to the Left’s fears, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is not a blank check for anybody to opt out of any law simply by checking the religion box. Not any burden on religious practice is forbidden, but only substantial ones. And even substantial burdens may be imposed when there is a compelling government interest that cannot be served with a less restrictive means.