- Category: Volume 85 (Fall 2013 - Spring 2014)
- Published: 23 April 2014
- Written by BRENDAN GREVES | STAFF WRITER
Here we go again, yet another “Obamacare” controversy and another case of the federal government treating the Constitution like its toilet paper. On March 25, the Supreme Court heard its oral arguments from the owners of Hobby Lobby and the federal government. The issue is that the owners of Hobby Lobby are forced under the Obamacare mandate, to pay for contraceptives in their employees’ health insurance. The mandate includes 20 forms of government approved contraceptives. The Green family is against covering four of those forms of contraceptives because they believe that they are similar to abortion, which is against their religious beliefs. Hobby Lobby’s opposition argues that the company itself is violating the rights of its employees but that is not the case. In fact, the owners of Hobby Lobby’s rights are the ones being infringed upon and here’s why.
The first two clauses of the First Amendment state “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Clearly this law violates the Free Exercise Clause. Hobby Lobby is a privately owned business which gives the owners the right to run it how they please, as long as it goes along with federal regulations. The Obamacare mandate is, of course, a federal regulation. However, the difference between this regulation and any other regulation like minimum wage, discrimination, or child labor laws is that none of these actually require anyone to go against their religious beliefs.
As for the Establishment Clause, the opposition argues that corporations cannot establish religion. However, the Establishment Clause means that Congress can’t make a law respecting an established religion that all citizens must follow. It never says anything about banning companies from running their business according to their religious beliefs and values, because that would violate the Free Exercise Clause.
Businesses run in ordinance with religious values all the time, and this does mean that they establish religion. Have you ever gotten Chic-fil-a on a Sunday? Well I promise you that you haven’t because they are closed on Sundays. Also, if you plan on going clothes shopping in Bergen County on a Sunday, you are out of luck because most retail sale stores are closed because of the county’s blue laws that give employees off on Sundays to ensure religious freedom. Actually, many stores are closed on Sundays everywhere for the same reason. Does this mean that all stores that are closed on Sundays force Christianity on their employees? No, of course not but many of their owners run them according to their religious beliefs.
Hobby Lobby is one of the many companies that operate this way. In addition to giving their employees Sundays off, the owners go beyond that to ensure that their managers only work five days a week and close at 8 pm to ensure that their employees have time to spend with their families. They provide anger management as well as financial planning classes. According to Becketfund.org, they also have increased pay for their part-time and full-time workers for four years in a row, and start their full time workers at 90 percent above the minimum wage. To me, this doesn’t sound like their employee rights have been violated just because they refuse to cover certain forms of contraception.
The opposition has also brought up the concern of women’s rights. I am also for women’s rights but it is not a woman’s right to take away religious freedom. Women already have the freedom to buy contraceptives without “Obamacare”. If it is a woman’s “personal choice” to do with her body as she pleases, then why would her employer be forced to cover that? People also leave out the fact that 77 percent of our country is Christian, which includes women who may also be against this law. To me, women’s rights has very little to do with this case and it is definitely more important to ensure religious freedom than women’s right to contraceptives.
Lastly, the law gives the company a choice of not providing health insurance which would result in paying a $2,000 penalty for every employee. However, they want to pay health insurance for their employees. It could hurt Hobby Lobby if they suddenly decide to stop providing health insurance. They would have to make up for that by increasing their already high wages and by paying the penalty on top of that. So basically, Hobby Lobby’s choice is to violate their religious beliefs or hurt their business. This doesn’t seem like much of a choice to me.
IMAGE TAKEN from mediamatters.org