The Corner

Hobby Lobby Ruling Applies to More Than Just Abortifacients

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Hobby Lobby and Conestoga yesterday was narrow in some ways, but not in every way.

Some commentators are mistakenly suggesting that the decision only applies if someone objects to the same “four” early-abortion causing items that the Court said the Hahn and Green families object to.

The HHS Mandate requires more than those four items: Employers must cover emergency contraception and intrauterine devices, but also other birth-control products and sterilization methods. Catholic owners and groups have generally objected to covering all these items, while Evangelical or Protestant folks have objected only to those they consider abortifacients.

But the Supreme Court’s protections for religious freedom apply to those who object to all of the HHS Mandate, not just to those who object to some of it.

This is clear for several reasons. First, as I noted previously, the Supreme Court issued several orders Tuesday morning after ruling on Hobby Lobby, in which it upheld rulings in favor of other families and vacated rulings adverse to other families challenging this mandate. But all of those families happened to be Catholic, and they objected to any abortifacient, sterilization, or birth-control coverage.

Second, the Hobby Lobby ruling itself is not limited to objection only to certain abortifacient drugs and devices. In fact, in the “substantial burden” discussion of the ruling,  it tells the government that it cannot parse a religious objector’s beliefs.

Third, when the Court says the mandate fails the “least restrictive means” test, it points to the fact that the government is providing exemptions and different arrangements for other entities. But those exemptions and other arrangements include health plans that object to the entire HHS mandate, not just to parts of it.

Finally, the Supreme Court favorably cited its ruling for the Little Sisters of the Poor, for whom it said they could express their religious objection and be exempt from the mandate even if they don’t fill out the government’s forms. The Little Sisters of the Poor are Catholic, and they object to the entire list of abortifacients, sterilization, and birth-control items in the mandate.

To be clear: Obamacare also requires “preventive services” such as cancer screenings. The Hobby Lobby/Conestoga decision does not address objections to those items, or to anything else, because no such objections exist. These cases only involve the framework of abortifacients, sterilization, and birth control. But they involve that entire framework. For more than 40 years, conscientious objections to abortion, sterilization, and related items have been protected together, as in the one of the amendments named after Senator Frank Church (42 U.S.C. § 300a-7).

Thus there’s no reason to interpret the Supreme Court’s ruling as only protecting objections to a few items considered to be abortifacients. The entire HHS Mandate is a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act for someone who religiously objects.

— Matt Bowman is senior legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom at its Center for Life in Washington, D.C.

Most Popular

PC Culture

Hate-Crime Hoaxes Reflect America’s Sickness

On January 29, tabloid news site TMZ broke the shocking story that Jussie Smollett, a gay black entertainer and progressive activist, had been viciously attacked in Chicago. Two racist white men had fractured his rib, poured bleach on him, and tied a noose around his neck. As they were leaving, they shouted ... Read More
World

Ilhan Omar’s Big Lie

In a viral exchange at a congressional hearing last week, the new congresswoman from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, who is quickly establishing herself as the most reprehensible member of the House Democratic freshman class despite stiff competition, launched into Elliott Abrams. She accused the former Reagan official ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Strange Paradoxes of Our Age

Modern prophets often say one thing and do another. Worse, they often advocate in the abstract as a way of justifying their doing the opposite in the concrete. The result is that contemporary culture abounds with the inexplicable — mostly because modern progressivism makes all sorts of race, class, and ... Read More
PC Culture

Fake Newspeople

This week, the story of the Jussie Smollett hoax gripped the national media. The story, for those who missed it, went something like this: The Empire actor, who is both black and gay, stated that on a freezing January night in Chicago, in the middle of the polar vortex, he went to a local Subway store to buy a ... Read More
U.S.

White Progressives Are Polarizing America

To understand how far left (and how quickly) the Democratic party has moved, let’s cycle back a very short 20 years. If 1998 Bill Clinton ran in the Democratic primary today, he’d be instantaneously labeled a far-right bigot. His support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, ... Read More
Elections

One Last Grift for Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders, the antique Brooklyn socialist who represents Vermont in the Senate, is not quite ready to retire to his lakeside dacha and so once again is running for the presidential nomination of a party to which he does not belong with an agenda about which he cannot be quite entirely ... Read More
PC Culture

Merciless Sympathy

Jussie Smollett’s phony hate-crime story could have been taken apart in 24 hours, except for one thing: Nobody wanted to be the first to call bullsh**. Who will bell the cat? Not the police, and I don’t blame them. Smollett is a vocal critic of President Donald Trump who checks two protected-category ... Read More
U.S.

Questions for Those Who Believed Jussie Smollett

The “we reported the Jussie Smollett case responsibly” contention has been blasted to smithereens. Twitter accounts and headlines in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times reported as fact Jussie Smollett’s wildly implausible allegations, and many other journalists did so as ... Read More