A Further Perspective

Slippery Arguments

The Left prefers the slope toward total government coercion.

By 7.2.14

UPI
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The Left remains in a lather over the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case, treating it as a shocking act of judicial invention. It is the “first time” businessmen who run closely held corporations have been accorded religious freedom, says Hillary Clinton, among other liberals. This claim would surely have come as a surprise to the framers of the Constitution. They never viewed employers at family-owned businesses as instruments of state secularism devoid of religious freedom or conscience rights.

A view of businessmen as cogs in the secularist machine is of recent vintage and it is baldly unconstitutional. The Founding Fathers would have been appalled by the assumption implicit in Hillary’s post-ruling musings on Monday that businessmen lose all right to religious freedom the moment they decide to open a business. Such an assumption is worthy not of a constitutional republic but of a totalitarian state that grants an hour of “freedom of worship” on Sundays.

It is an assumption that conveniently allows government to corrupt businessmen endlessly. The Left’s propagandistic game from the beginning of the contraceptive debate has been to treat the victim — employers whose freedom the federal government is violating for the sake of advancing its own belief system — as the victimizer, who is somehow oppressing employees not by action but by inaction.

In parts of the Islamic world, the war on women takes the form of honor killings, genital mutilations, and forced marriage, among other practices. In America, according to Hillary, it takes the form of an employer declining to pay for an employee’s abortifacients and contraceptives.

On the basis of the Supreme Court’s ruling, Hillary actually suggested that America is moving in the “direction” of barbaric, woman-hating societies, still “far” from them but nevertheless moving in their direction: “It is a disturbing trend that you see in a lot of societies that are very unstable, anti-democratic, and frankly prone to extremism. Where women and women’s bodies are used as the defining and unifying issue to bring together people — men — to get them to behave in ways that are disadvantageous to women but which prop up them because of their religion, their sect, their tribe, whatever.”

The Left’s discussion of the ruling has been comically skewed and heated. But if any entity is “imposing” its beliefs on Americans, it is the Obama administration. The only coercion on display is coming not from businessmen but from a government willing to bankrupt businesses unless they obey such arbitrary decrees as free, employer-provided contraceptives as “essential health care.”

It is absurd to hear the Left speak of violated freedoms when the whole thrust of Obamacare is to violate freedoms and subject all Americans to its mandates. The debate is cast as “bosses” depriving their employees of “health care” instead of what it is: the government and willing employees teaming up to force employers to pay for products they find morally objectionable.

No administration prior to this one thought that employees had a constitutional right to free contraceptives and abortifacients from their bosses. How could that be a “lost freedom” when it was never a constitutional freedom in the first place? How can employers who wish to stay out of the health care decisions of their employees be “interfering” with them?

Every claim the Left has made after the ruling twists Hobby Lobby’s unwillingness to pay for abortion-inducing drugs into an assault upon an employee’s “access to health care.” Hillary describes Hobby Lobby’s position in the most dishonest terms, ignoring its partial compliance with the mandate and treating the mere absence of abortifacients from its plan as the company’s withering moral judgment on its employees: “It’s very troubling that a sales clerk at Hobby Lobby who need contraception, which is pretty expensive, is not going to get that service through her employer’s health care plan because her employer doesn’t think she should be using contraception.”

The Left speaks of the Supreme Court decision as a “slippery slope,” by which it means a ruling that could result in greater freedom from Obamacare’s mandates at some later point. That is presented as a horrifying prospect, even as the Left builds up a slippery slope toward greater and greater government coercion.

If the federal government can demand that employers pay for contraceptives and abortion-inducing pills, then what is to stop it from hatching an “abortion-at-all-stages mandate” or a “euthanasia mandate”? Under the Left’s view, employers who object to paying for late-term abortions are also guilty of “imposing” their beliefs on employees and don’t deserve religious-freedom protections. At the bottom of the Left’s slippery slope is total submission to government, no matter how unjust its decrees.

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About the Author
George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author, with Phyllis Schlafly, of the new book, No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom.