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Published: Sunday, 8/3/2014


Court falls flat in ‘Hobby Lobby’ ruling

In its astoundingly wrongheaded Hobby Lobby decision that exempts businesses from laws their owners perceive as violating their religious rights, the Supreme Court committed sins of commission and omission (“Workers’ consciences deserve protection too,” op-ed column, July 27).

One error is to further the dangerous conceits that corporations are persons, can possess religious convictions that inform business practices, and have rights to exercise these convictions. The corporation is not its owner.

The Hobby Lobby decision is as absurd as the Citizens United ruling, which gave personhood to corporations and equated money with speech.

Hobby Lobby was obviously based on ideology, not law. Had the question been whether blood transfusions or vaccinations must be covered, the decision would have gone the other way.

If it had been whether persons of both sexes and all races and religions must be covered, the case would never even have been heard.

But now there is precedent on which such a case can be brought, as noted by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in her scathing dissent.

The court missed a historic opportunity to establish a beneficially simplifying and unifying precedent. Hobby Lobby is not its owner’s private hobby, nor an extension of his personhood or his religion. It is a business entity, part of the life of the community, employing and engaging the public.

The court could have codified the point that although separate religious rights are absolute in private life, unifying obligations must be observed when a person participates in society at large, whether by serving all persons in his restaurant, accommodating all in his hotel, or offering his employees the health-insurance coverage the Affordable Care Act requires.


Monclova Township

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