The Left’s Delusional Freakout over RFRA

by Andrew T. Walker

Rather unsurprisingly, the professional Left’s reaction to yesterday’s decision in Hobby Lobby has been almost all hype, over-reaction, and fear-mongering.

To hear some portray the ruling, the Supreme Court just empowered corporations to pave over anyone or anything if done under the penumbra of “religious liberty.”

Justice Ginsburg’s erratic tirade of an opinion went this route, going so far as to say that corporations could object to “health coverage of vaccines, or paying the minimum wage, or according women equal pay for substantially similar work.”

Malarkey, pure and simple. Ginsburg’s dissent sounds like an advert from the National Organization from Women.

It is downright foolish, and rather confounding for it to come from a Supreme Court justice — especially since the majority opinion by Alito expressly forbids the ruling to be applied to ham-fisted outcomes that are being proposed. The majority opinion expressly limits itself to the question at hand involving Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood.

The majority opinion expressly refuses to weigh in on bogus concoctions meant to stoke fear in the public mind.

Were such cases to occur (say, for example, that an individual wants to refuse vaccine coverage) there’s a recourse for how it might get resolved. There’s no reason to feign ignorance about the standard, because it’s exactly what was used yesterday: The Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

All RFRA does is ensure a balance test between religious-liberty infringement and compelling government interest. And no one denies, especially in instances such as vaccine coverage, that the government may indeed have a compelling state interest such as public safety.

It has to be said over and over again: RFRA and religious liberty aren’t “golden tickets” that one can pull out of his or her back pocket and claim an automatic win. RFRA simply initiates an appeals process. It allows an individual to make a grievance with his or her government, a grievance that will be subjected to the two-pronged test of RFRA: the compelling interest test and the least-restrictive-means test.

So, our message to the Left: Calm down. What has been the law since 1993 continues to be the law, and what the Supreme Court did yesterday is simply reaffirm that religious liberty isn’t something that’s lost just because someone incorporates a family business.

Theocracy isn’t running wild in the streets; and health plans will continue to cover contraception.

In the aftermath of the Hobby Lobby decision, the Left will shamefully and purposefully distort the outcome of the ruling. You can be sure of that. The difficulty for conservatives in response is to de-escalate the hype, and point individuals to the actual majority opinion. Facts, as ever, are stubborn things.

— Andrew T. Walker works for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.