The Real Question in the ‘Religious Liberty’ Debate

“Law is really ill-equipped for adjudicating between the claims of revelation and the claims of rationality.” – Katherine Franke, director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School. At face value, ‘religious liberty’ is something no one objects to.  That makes the generations-old tension between ‘religious’ and ‘secular’ values, as they are often characterized, an impossible divide to gap.  Or so some would have you believe, and I like to call those people “wrong.” The quote from Katherine Franke above comes from a Q&A with ProPublica over…

No, Hobby Lobby Doesn’t Exempt the FLDS from Child Labor Laws

You may have seen the headlines: Using Hobby Lobby to refuse a subpoena about child labor. Judge: Hobby Lobby Decision Means Polygamus Sect Member Can Refuse to Testify in Child Labor Case. The sky is falling!  Just like Justice Ginsburg predicted it would!  I told you that Hobby Lobby was about more than just birth control!  Now those religious fanatics are using it to undermine child labor laws! Or not. It’s quite apparent that the authors of the alarmist articles haven’t bothered to read Judge Sam’s actual ruling in Perez…

Hobby Lobby scores one for Liberty in the Supreme Court [Hub Debate]

“It is God who gave us life and liberty. Can the liberties of nations be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.” –Thomas Jefferson.   Last week, a landmark decision came down from the Supreme Court in the case involving Hobby Lobby. To make a long story short, Hobby Lobby sued the federal…

Can the judiciary limit itself? Not if we can help it [Hub Debate]

Plenty of people are spending time talking about the Hobby Lobby ruling itself and are missing a much bigger issue: the ever-expansive role of the judiciary. When we don’t get what we want out of the legislative process, we lawyer up and try to create all kinds of fancy language to inject new meaning into existing law. Sometimes, the courts go along with it and encourage the same bad behavior in others. The end result is that we don’t even have a real system of law anymore; we have a…

Hobby Lobby Ruling was Limited Common Sense [Hub Debate]

From a macro perspective, the Hobby Lobby ruling doesn’t do much. The Supreme Court made the decision narrow enough that it only impacts: “Closely held” corporations (while not clearly defined, I would suggest this means private companies – publicly traded companies need not apply). The Affordable Care Act, specifically the contraceptive mandate that was made law therein. The Supreme Court could have gone much further and applied that personhood applies to larger companies with more shareholders, or that religious objections could apply to other things like gay marriage, blood transfusions,…

Hobby Lobby and its Aftermath: What Will RFRA Do Next? [Hub Debate]

Now that the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has decided Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, people are wondering a few things: What is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)? ŸWhy do we have RFRA? What does RFRA cover? What are the limits of free exercise of religion under RFRA? These are all great questions because most people have never heard of RFRA, and why should they have? It is an obscure federal law concerning religious freedom. And how many rational people read any of the tens-of-thousands of federal laws…

Burwell v. Hobby Lobby: What it Is, and What it Ain’t [Hub Debate]

  With the Supreme Court ruling 5-4 in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby on Monday, finding  that for-profit employers with religious objections can opt out of providing contraception coverage under Obamacare, our debate topic is set: did the Supreme Court get it right? Or wrong?    I have thought long and hard how to approach today’s Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (i.e., the Religious Freedom Restoration Act challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive/abortifacient/sterilization mandate (Mandate)). I have written on various aspects of this subject before, but I wanted to really get at what this case is about.…

Hobby Lobby Wins One for Single Payer [The Hub Debate]

The SCOTUS has ruled, and in favor of Hobby Lobby against the contraception mandate in the affordable care act. Some will call it a win for ‘religious liberty.’  Some will call it another step towards the court turning corporations into people.  Democrats will campaign on it as another example of conservative disdain for women’s health issues.   Republicans will call it another kick in the teeth for the Affordable Care Act, while trying carefully not to own it too much in case the Democrats’ message plays well.  In the immediate,…

Corporations Aren’t People — But People Are, Even When They Act Through Corporations

The question isn’t, “Should we give corporations rights?” but rather, “Should we deny individuals rights when they act through corporations?” Yesterday, I had a discussion with a good friend about what I view as the only interesting aspect of the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling — that Hobby Lobby, as a for-profit corporation, is protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). My friend’s point was this:  why should we allow someone who makes the decision to incorporate to claim both that he is not the corporation (for purposes of…

The Supreme Court Thinks It Can Decide Which Religious Beliefs are Important [Hub Debate]

With the Supreme Court ruling 5-4 in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby on Monday, finding  that for-profit employers with religious objections can opt out of providing contraception coverage under Obamacare, our debate topic is set: did the Supreme Court get it right? Or wrong?  The Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby is problematic, but given the court’s current composition, and its track record on corporate issues, it was not unexpected. As in most cases, the justices aren’t idiots (even the ones I usually disagree with), so the majority decision isn’t a gross miscarriage…