Next Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments concerning constitutional challenges to Obamacare’s contraception mandate brought by Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties. The families that own and operate these private corporations believe the mandate violates the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by forcing them to provide employees with health insurance covering abortifacients. Both families have grave religious objections to the use of such drugs.
Neither company objects to birth control, per se. Indeed, both provide coverage to their employees for most types of contraception. Yet civilization as we know it will collapse if the justices rule in their favor, according to the increasingly shrill prognostications of panicky liberals. Such a decision, progressives shriek, would constitute a victory for the dark forces behind the “war on women,” erode employee protections against discrimination, and dramatically reduce access to health care for all workers.
If this seems like an exaggeration, consider the recent statements made in Congress by Democrat Senator Patty Murray in direct reference to these Supreme Court cases: “Allowing a woman’s boss to call the shots about her access to birth control should be inconceivable to all Americans in this day and age, and takes us back to a place in history when women had no voice or choice.” The Senator went on to imply that the owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga are little more than foot soldiers in the fabled “war on women.”
The major problem with this argument is, of course, that this “war” is a work of fiction produced by the Democrats and various affiliates in order to scare women into voting for members of their party. But Senator Murray’s statement also misrepresents who is behind these lawsuits. They were filed by closely-held family-owned businesses. It has apparently escaped the notice of the Senator, but most families do contain females. That includes the Green family who owns Hobby Lobby and the Hahn family who owns Conestoga.
Murray was also disingenuous about why the lawsuits were filed. These folks don’t want to take anyone back to “a place in history when women had no voice.” What they seek is relief from a bureaucratic diktat that would force them to pay for products the use of which is proscribed by their religious beliefs. And, the President’s phony accommodation notwithstanding, the contraception mandate forces them to do just that. This violates the religious rights of everyone in these families, including those of the women.
In addition to their claim that Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties are part of the fictitious war on women, our progressive friends also claim that a Supreme Court ruling in their favor would somehow repeal the various federal statutes that protect workers against discrimination. This talking point has been repeated by all the usual suspects. The Huffington Post, for example, warns that a win for the arts and crafts chain will unleash a spate of anti-gay laws and other types of “legalized discrimination.”
Even normally sensible publications have repeated this implausible claim. Inc., for example, quotes the chief counsel for the left-leaning Constitutional Accountability Center thus: “We could see more claims for exemptions from generally applicable federal laws, like anti-discrimination laws.” The author of the piece elaborates on this threat: “That means, for example, employee protections for gender, race, religion, and national origin established in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 could come under attack.”
Predictably, none of the people making this claim explain how that would work. Nor do they expand on another widely repeated meme — that a ruling in favor of these two companies would somehow reduce access to health care for the general population. Planned Parenthood is particularly fond of this talking point: “What the Court decides could set a dangerous precedent … allowing businesses to deny their employees… procedures and treatments like vaccines, surgeries, blood transfusions, or mental health care.”
Again, it isn’t obvious how a decision in favor of the Green and Hahn families would set such a precedent, but logic and reason aren’t really in play here. What these wacky prognostications are about is fear. Obamacare is an unworkable morass of bad ideas, many of which are clearly unconstitutional. Its dwindling cadre of supporters is terrified that it won’t survive many more encounters with the surgeons. In 2012, the justices amputated the Medicaid mandate and they may well hack off the contraception mandate this summer.
There have already been more than 3 dozen major Obamacare “fixes,” including 20 administrative changes, 15 congressional changes, and two alterations by the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, several lawsuits involving the legality of the IRS decision to issue tax credits through federally established insurance exchanges are working their way through the court system. Obamacare’s remaining advocates are hysterical with fear that the voters will eventually decide to put the trembling beast out of its misery.