In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled today that the birth control provisions of the Affordable Care Act infringed on the religious liberties of businesses and business owners—particularly, in this case, of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties.
. . . [Justice] Alito held that in the case before the court, the religious objections cited were legally legitimate, under a law that bars the government from taking action in certain cases that “substantially burdens” freedom of religion. He noted that fines for one company could total $475 million per year if they did not comply with the ObamaCare rule.
“If these consequences do not amount to a substantial burden, it is hard to see what would,” Alito wrote.
. . . The court had never before recognized a for-profit corporation’s religious rights under federal law or the Constitution. The companies in this case, and their backers, argued that a 1993 federal law on religious freedom extends to businesses.
So businesses will not be required to pay for abortifacient birth control. Which raises a huge number of questions and significantly weakens the Affordable Care Act’s capacity for unilateral provisions. It will undoubtedly open the door for other similar challenges.
This very possibility was the reason four of the Justices disagreed with the majority opinion. Justice Ginsberg, speaking for the minority opinion, opined that a ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby would allow for “sweeping” challenges to the Affordable Care Act. The Obama administration made this same argument, stating that a win for Hobby Lobby meant businesses could challenge government stipulations on immunization, Social Security withholdings, and minimum wage.
Possibly in order to prevent this possibility, Justice Alito made it clear that striking down a portion of the ACA’s provisions did not put the entire bill in jeopardy:
Alito clarified that the decision Monday is limited to contraceptives under the health care law. “Our decision should not be understood to hold that an insurance-coverage mandate must necessarily fall if it conflicts with an employer’s religious beliefs.”
But why doesn’t this case extend to civil government coercion of private businesses in other areas? This decision does not go far enough. Businesses should be allowed to pay what they want, discriminate how they want, offer or not offer insurance, and basically organize their employment contracts and remuneration packages however the employer and employee mutually and voluntarily agree.
What’s so wrong with that? If you want full coverage health insurance, get a job with a company that offers that. If there isn’t one, start one. If you disagree with a company’s position, don’t give them your money. Contrary to the leftist mantra, perks are not rights. Birth control isn’t a right. Neither is health coverage, food, housing, or anything else. The civil government is responsible to protect people from criminal wrongdoing. Nothing more and nothing less. Which is why, at least in this case, they did their job.