Burwell v. Hobby LobbyPosted: 2 Oct 14
This is kind of old by now, but rather than discard it completely, I thought I would resurrect it from the Save as Draft pile.
According to the Supreme Court, my employer has the right to tell me I can’t buy certain contraceptives with my insurance benefits. Apparently, certain employers have a pretty remarkable religious belief that if they do anything to make it possible for me to make a choice that conflicts with their religious beliefs that they are just as morally responsible for my choice as I am (and the Court bought that argument!). So then by the same logic surely they have the right to tell me I can’t buy them with my paycheck too, right? Why wouldn’t they? In both cases it’s their money, given to me in compensation for services rendered. In both cases, there are exactly two ways for my employer to know which choices I made: I tell her or she violates my privacy. In both cases, unless she’s a total hypocrite, her religious objections are exactly the same. My sex life and reproductive choices are none of her damn business. So what makes health insurance different?
And if my employer is to be held responsible for my reproductive choices and therefore can hinder those choices, why wouldn’t they also be held responsible for my recreational choices? Surely, if I chose to spend my paycheck on booze, they enabled that choice just as much as they enabled me to choose to use contraceptives, so why wouldn’t they have a First Amendment right keep me from buying alcohol too, right?
And if they can tell me what I can’t spend my paycheck on, why wouldn’t they have the right to specify purchases that I have to make? Can my boss make me tithe? Can she force me to buy Bibles? By what principle would anyone limit her new right to dictate my spending habits?
The Supreme Court’s decision is based on a religious fallacy–that one person will be held accountable for the actions of another in final judgment–and a legal fallacy–that the First Amendment gives us a right not only to believe any stupid thing but to force the consequences of that belief on other people. It’s not the place of the Supreme Court to tell Hobby Lobby that they are wrong about the religious fallacy, but it is their place not to perpetuate the legal fallacy.