Hobby Lobby: Missing the forest for the trees

The recent Supreme Court decision on in favor of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties seeking an exemption from the contraception mandate of in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a step in the wrong direction. I think although the justices applied the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to reach a narrow conclusion, it was wrong and that wrongness will cause greater harm than the narrow ruling suggests.

The justices were concerned with the religious freedom rights of the few owners of closely-help corporations. These would be the trees in my title. But they missed the restriction placed on an earned benefit by many employees. These could be the forest in the title above.

But another way the title could be interpreted is that the justices focused on a detail (the religious freedom of the employers) but missed the big picture.

Does the employer have other religious freedoms? Can he tell his employees they are not to spend money on dancing or going to movies if his religion forbids those activities? Can he tell them to invest their retirement savings only he companies his church approves of?

After all, the employer did give them the money that allows them to do those things. Shouldn’t he have a say in how they can spend the money?

If the insurance and salary are both earned benefits of employment, should insurance be treated differently?

Is the employer unfaithful to his religion if a employee breaks the rules of his religion?

What happens if the employer’s religion disapproves of transfusion, transplantation, or some other medical procedure. Can the employer modify his employees’ insurance to match his religious beliefs?

Are the rules different if you are a sole owner, a partnership, a non-profit corporations, a closely-held for-profit corporation, or a publicly-traded for-profit corporation?

Did the Supreme Court miss the forest for the trees?

About Jack Reidy

I retired in 2008 and so I have more time now to devote to several of my interests The blog here is mainly for my interests in some current events but may have the occasional rant on other subjects. I have also decided to keep my genealogy posts and book reviews here instead of 2 additional blogs (and so simplify my life a little).
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2 Responses to Hobby Lobby: Missing the forest for the trees

  1. Bill Bloomer says:

    Two questions:

    What is the primary purpose of any business? (small or large in any form)

    Are free market businesses required to supply entitlements/benefits to their employees ?

  2. Jack says:

    Hi Bill,

    Good to have you back. Hearing your points clarifies the thinking a bit and sometimes brings up things I may not have considered.

    I don’t think a business (regardless of size or the way it is organized) should be required to provide employees with benefits, etc. The main reason I believe it was usually done was to make employment more attractive. However it is now the law that employers over a certain size must either provide insurance with certain standards (and defining those standards was left to HHS) or pay a tax penalty.

    So I think those standards now have the force of law (but I could be wrong about that). Maybe there is more flexibility than if Congress actually specified those standards since HHS and Obama reached a compromise with some Catholic organizations. I don’t think the court was right to say these employers are exempt from the law for religious reasons.

    I am not a fan of the employer mandate and I think there is an inherent conflict with religious freedom but since it is current law I think it should apply to all with few exceptions. But that said, I would have no objection to an administrative solution like than mentioned above.

    Jack

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