Hobby Lobby/Conestoga Oral Argument Tomorrow


By Hadley Heath

Tomorrow the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the cases brought against ObamaCare's contraception mandate by Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., and Conestoga Wood Specialities Corp.

The law's challengers will be represented by attorney Paul Clement, and the government's side will be argued by Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Jr. 

At the heart of these cases is religious freedom, and many questions are raised: Can a business exercise religious freedom? Are the religious rights of business owners violated when government forces business to follow laws against their conscience? Do Americans forfeit their religious freedom when they act as a business?

What is mind-boggling to me is that, as noted in an amicus brief from the Independent Women's Forum, women who work for companies like Hobby Lobby or Conestoga Wood were free - and would remain free after any ruling in these cases - to buy contraceptives of all kinds with their own money.  These cases are not about a conflict of interest between religious employers and contraceptive-using employees. Both should be free to live in accordance with their consciences as they relate to sex, life, and contraceptives, and both should be able to use their resources in a way that reflects those values. The mandate would force religious employers to go against their conscience... No one (in this case) is attempting to stop women from seeking out and purchasing the drugs of their choice.

Lyle Dennison at SCOTUSblog offers an in-depth analysis of the arguments here. He importantly notes that these cases will have little to bear over the fate of ObamaCare at large:

Only one thing, perhaps, is certain as the argument in this case approaches: whatever the Court decides, it will not decide the fate of the Affordable Care Act.  The nation’s politics, and many of its legislatures (including Congress), are absorbed with debates over whether to keep the law, to amend it, to render it unenforceable, or to repeal it altogether.  None of that depends upon the outcome of this case.

The Court has not been asked to strike down any part of the law, and it almost certainly won’t volunteer to do so.  All that is at issue is who must obey the contraceptive mandate.

ObamaCare would not be struck down if the law's challengers prevailed in these cases. But it would strike a blow to the philosophy that undergirds government involvement in the health sphere: A one-size-fits-all system will inevitably lead to conflicts in values and conscience. These cases illustrate how problematic it is when choices that should be personal and free are mandated for all. 


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