In this Cato@Liberty post, legal scholar Roger Pilon gets at the heart of the philosophical problem in the Hobby Lobby case, namely that it treats religious objection as a special instance in which the government has to grant an exemption from its general rules of coercion. Under the free society envisioned by the Founders, the state was given limited powers and even further limited from interfering with the people’s liberties in specific ways, among them not establishing a religion or interfering with its free exercise. As the statism of the “progressives” has advanced, however, we now have to search for some constitutional safe havens, like the First Amendment, where the government’s power doesn’t extend.

As law professor (and one-time JLF speaker) Randy Barnett observes in his book Restoring the Lost Constitution, the document ought to be read with a presumption favoring liberty, but instead the presumption now runs in favor of government control.