Special Report

Special Report

A Slippery Slope Toward Freedom

By 7.2.14

The groundbreaking decision Monday in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, in which the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Obamacare’s contraception mandate violates the religious freedom of two closely held corporations, will be dissected heavily for days, and studied for weeks, years, and decades.

For consistent civil libertarians, one of the most remarkable — and favorable — aspects of the majority opinion by Justice Samuel Alito is its no-holds-barred defense of corporations asserting rights of “persons.” As my Competitive Enterprise Institute colleague Hans Bader explains, this case dealt with statutory rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and did not directly involve constitutional liberties. Alito, however, implied strongly that corporations — even if set up for profit — should enjoy all such “personal” rights.

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The Supreme Court Gets It Mostly Right

By 6.30.14

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to debate Democratic attorney and activist Chris Hahn on Sean Hannity’s radio show regarding the “Hobby Lobby” case in which that company — a closely-held (although large) private company, founded and run by devout Christians — objected to the Obamacare mandate that companies must provide “free” birth control.

From the “I bet you didn’t know this after watching NBC News” files: Hobby Lobby’s health insurance plans already cover most popular forms of birth control — those used by the vast majority of Americans who use birth control. In fact, Hobby Lobby covers sixteen of the twenty FDA-approved contraceptive methods. The Green family, which owns the chain of arts and crafts supplies stores, says they intend to continue to cover those 16 forms of birth control even after winning the court case. What they object to are IUD’s and “abortifacient” medications that prevent the implantation of an already fertilized egg; they consider it taking a life.

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Christians & Nukes

By 6.29.14

Several U.S. Catholic bishops in March visited Iran to parley with ayatollahs and other Islamic authorities of that theocracy. In June they issued a joint resulting statement extolling their abhorrence of weapons of mass destruction.

“Shia Islam opposes and forbids the production, stockpiling, use and threat to use weapons of mass destruction,” their interfaith declaration announced. “Catholicism is also working for a world without weapons of mass destruction and calls on all nations to rid themselves of these indiscriminate weapons.”

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Marco Rubio’s Rehabilitation Continues

By 6.26.14

Florida Senator Marco Rubio gave a portmanteau speech before about 150 students, professors, and invited guests at the Washington campus of Hillsdale College Wednesday. The speech was entitled “Finding Economic Security in an Insecure Time," but the headline just as easily could have been, “The History and Trajectory of Everything,” so many topics were covered, so stuffed was Rubio’s forensic bag.

Rubio became a Republican star after he trounced then-Florida Governor (and prospective future Florida governor) Charlie Crist for a Senate seat in 2010. Rubio was on everyone’s presidential short list for a bit until he hurt his political prospects badly by backing the Senate’s awful immigration “reform” bill in 2012. Since then he has been trying to make amends by being active on every conservative front, and being very vocal. Yesterdays speech appears to be part of this strategy.  

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Presbyterians Become the Silly Church

By 6.21.14

At one point during this this week’s General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the hundreds of delegates, known as commissioners, gleefully bounced scores of red balloons in the air. At another point, they collectively broke into dance, confirming that most Protestants, especially if they’re old, white and Anglo, don’t look so great wiggling around. (Here’s a video, for mature viewers only.)

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The New Twist on Inequality

By 6.19.14

In pre-modern times, the disparity in men’s and women’s higher education opportunities was often defended by the view that women’s education would be wasted because they’d end up “just being mothers.” Of course, we now recognize that a mother’s education plays a vital role in the education of her children and, thus, in the welfare of the community and society as a whole.

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Politicians Against Innovation

By 6.18.14

Imagine an American senator nearly a century ago reacting to the introduction of motorized agricultural equipment, which undoubtedly reduced the need for people to live on the family farm as they had for centuries, by declaring, “Innovation cannot be allowed to undermine enduring values.”

Picture a congressman protesting with that same sentence against the success of Henry Ford’s Model T because technological improvement posed a risk to a buggy whip business in his district.

Consider a state functionary shackling creative, beneficial, and popular technologies like Uber and Lyft with rules such as “you cannot take a rider to or from any airport in California” because of the apparently “enduring value” of a high-price low-quality taxi oligopoly.

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Minimum Wages of Inequality

By 6.17.14

It is remarkable these days how quickly an idea, once resurrected by a spastic media, can move from the fringe into the mainstream. Formerly the utopian din exclusive to protesters swarming the nation’s Burger Kings and Pizza Huts, minimum wage reforms are now reality for some cities.

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Protestants and Anti-Israel Divestment

By 6.16.14

Anti-Israel church activists are claiming that the United Methodist Church divested from a British firm servicing Israeli prisons to protest Israeli policies towards Palestinians. It turns out the claim, which made the New York Times, is not publicly confirmed by the United Methodist pensions agency, which says it divested for other reasons. But the claim was clearly timed to influence the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly, which will vote this week on whether that denomination will divest against Israel.

“This is a transparent media stunt on the eve of the Presbyterian Church USA General Assembly trying to prejudice that deliberation of anti-Israel and pro-divestment resolutions in Detroit next week,” pronounced Noam Marans of the American Jewish Committee.

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Eric Cantor Shellacked

By 6.11.14

In his Republican primary race on Tuesday evening, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) was a bigger favorite than California Chrome. (Last week, Cantor’s campaign claimed a more than 2-to-1 polling lead.) But in both cases we’re reminded “that’s why they run the race.”

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