Reader's view: Hobby Lobby decision flouts basic concepts
The recent Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case has generated a plethora of comments and critiques. Some dance precariously on the head of a pin. In my opinion, a few basic concepts require discussion.
First, when our Founding Fathers constructed the Constitution and its Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment’s freedom of speech and religion, they were clearly thinking of individuals and not corporations. Corporations, of course, are organizations formed to pursue certain purposes and given special status by a charter from a government. (In Revolutionary times, think of the Hudson’s Bay Company or the East India Company.) I cannot conceive of those Enlightenment gentlemen thinking that freedom of speech or of religion would apply to them. They are legal entities that may be owned by various numbers of individuals, but they are not people themselves.
Second, the Affordable Care Act is meant to provide enhanced access to health care insurance to individuals, either through employers or government-sponsored exchanges. Owners of corporations, no matter what their religious convictions might be, should not have the “freedom” to restrict the benefits afforded by the act to their employees. How can an employer’s exercise of religion trump that of an employee, unless specifically expressed as a condition of employment?
Third, as to Hobby Lobby’s complaint it should not have to pay for the cost of certain women’s health benefits on religious grounds, we all probably object to various specific government expenditures on moral grounds, for example nuclear arms or land mines. But in a democratic society we are obligated to pay our taxes and live with what laws exist, though we may try to improve them through the legislative process.
I note that the New York Times on July 12 labeled the Supreme Court’s decision “addle-brained.”
John C. Green