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?