Uncle Roger's Notebooks of Daily Life

Friday, July 04, 2014

Why Hobby Lobby is Wrong

This past week, just in time for Independence Day, the Supreme Court made America a lot less American. Hobby Lobby, a for-profit corporation, asked for an exemption from the Affordable Care Act so that the company would not have to provide insurance that covered their employees for certain types of birth control. The family that owns the corporation is quite religious and believe that the birth control in question should not be used. Somehow, they feel that their personal beliefs should be the beliefs of their company and they should be allowed to force those beliefs on their employees. Sadly, the SCOTUS agreed with them. Here's why that was the wrong decision.

In this country, there are laws that govern how corporations operate. Naturally, there are bound to be some whose religious beliefs are in conflict with those laws. So how do those people operate a business while still adhering to their religion? That was the dilemma the folks at Hobby Lobby faced. Unfortunately, they chose the wrong solution.

The laws are put in place to provide for and safeguard the citizenry in general. So the correct answer is that if, in order to run your business according to the law, you would have to do something that you cannot, in good conscience do, then you don't run that business. You find something else to do. What you don't do is say "ooh, I don't like that law, so I don't want to do it!"

We all have things we don't want to do, both personally and professionally, but still have to do. I don't like taking out the trash or washing dishes or stopping at a red light when there's clearly no one else around. And yet, we do them. Because that's what makes our society a civilized one. To have it otherwise leads to anarchy.

And that's where Hobby Lobby has pointed us -- a nation of spoiled brats floundering in anarchy, picking and choosing the laws we like the way christians pick and choose the bits of the bible they want to follow. Hobby Lobby didn't like part of the affordable care act so they don't want to have to follow that law. I suppose it's not surprising given that they're so used to picking and choosing, after all.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a scathing dissent asking if the exemption would extend to Jehovah's Witnesses refusing to cover blood transfusions or scientologists not wanting to cover antidepressants. Some argued that she was engaging in hyperbole, that the decision was so narrowly worded that it would not apply to anything else but it turns out that Justice Ginsburg was wasn't worried enough. Shortly after issuing the Hobby Lobby decision, the Court expanded the ruling to apply to all forms of contraception, not just the specific ones mentioned in the Hobby Lobby case.

And it gets worse -- one day after the Court ruled in Hobby Lobby's favor, a group of religious leaders asked to be exempted from an executive order prohibiting them from discriminating against members of the LGBTQ community. Next up, I'm sure, will be country clubs asking to be allowed to limit membership to "whites only". In fact, arguments very similar to those made by Hobby Lobby were used previously before the Supreme Court in 1968, in defense of a restaurant owner who did not want to serve African-Americans. Back then, however, the Supreme Court correctly ruled 8-0 against the restaurant owner. I'm not so sure that the Court would be so wise today.

Today is Independence Day. Normally, I would be celebrating, perhaps watching 1776 or talking about why America is special with the kids, but this year I don't really feel like it. I'm not sure how long the America our forefathers set up and that we all know and love will last at this point. I am truly afraid that what makes this country great is on its last legs. I hope that I am wrong, but fear that I am not.

Journal Description

My life is, to me, ripe with frequent challenges, occasional successes, spontaneous laughter, adequate tears, and enough *life* to last me a lifetime. To you, however, it surely seems most pedestrian. And therefore, I recycle the name I used previously and call this my Notebooks of Daily Life. Daily, because it's everyday in nature, ordinary. These conglomeration of events that are my life are of interest to me because I live it, perhaps mildly so to those who are touched by it, and could only be of perverse, morbid curiosity to anyone else. Yet, I offer them here nonetheless. Make of them what you will, and perhaps you can learn from my mistakes.