Today's must-read comes from Tim Carney: Re-elected, Obama takes aim at religious liberty. A bit:
Green and his family own Hobby Lobby, a chain of arts-and-crafts stores. They sued the administration on the grounds the contraception mandate prohibited their free exercise of Christianity by forcing them to pay for abortifacient morning-after pills.Read the entire piece. Carney makes it all very clear. (And in the process, he reminded me of the Washington Post's Lisa Miller and her disdain for the "smugly fecund." I commented on that here.)
The Greens weren't arguing that morning-after pills should be illegal. They weren't even trying to keep their employees from using them. They just didn't want to implicate themselves in what they saw as immoral activity.
The administration responded with an unsettling argument: The Greens aren't protected by the First Amendment's "free exercise" clause in this case because they operate a secular business. "Hobby Lobby is a for-profit, secular employer," the Obama administration wrote in a brief, "and a secular entity by definition does not exercise religion."
Part of the administration's argument is that the mandate controls the corporation's actions but it does not apply to individual owners.
So, people have First Amendment protections as long as they don't start businesses. If they do, and if they operate their businesses according with their own consciences, they "become laws unto themselves," as the Obama administration puts it.
So this is who the Left has in mind when it says conservatives are trying to legislate morality: people who dare to follow their moral and religious beliefs, as opposed to a code devised by bureaucrats regulating a secular state.
To state the screamingly obvious, the majority of voting "Catholics" (they keep using that word) have no problem with the state trampling all over religious rights, including their own, or with the left's anti-life agenda in general. "Free" contraceptives, morning-after pills, and sterilizations, paid for by you and me and even by the Little Sisters of the Poor, whom the mandate will destroy, apparently trump all that blather about the culture of life.
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