Wednesday, July 2, 2014

TOS's Key Observations on SCOTUS's Hobby Lobby Decision

The Objective Standard’s Ari Armstrong has a couple of good observations regarding the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case.

As I noted yesterday, the SCOTUS based its decision narrowly, on the 1993 law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). RFRA states that, with two exceptions, "Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability." One of the “exceptions” is when the “burden” is vital to advance a “compelling governmental interest.” The court found that the contraception mandate was not vital to advance that interest. But as Armstrong points out:

[T]he notion that “governmental interests” properly can trump individual rights is alien to the spirit of the Declaration of Independence and of the Constitution, and it is antithetical to the principle of individual rights.

Armstrong also noted that the court protected only those who oppose the mandate on religious grounds, a very narrow ruling. Armstrong observes:

The Court effectively ruled that those who base their decisions on faith—that is, on acceptance of ideas in support of which there is no evidence—may decide what insurance to offer, but that those who base their decisions on reason and evidence may not. This is the worst, most fundamentally flawed aspect of the decision.

As I noted yesterday, the decision is narrow, based merely on a law, not freedom of contract grounds, which means First Amendment grounds. Thus, it is only a small step in the right direction. It does nothing, in and of itself, to reverse the long-term statist trend in healthcare or, more broadly, in the country at large.

Related Reading:

SCOTUS Hobby Lobby Decision Skirts the Fundamental Issue

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