A little while back, there was a big stink when Hobby Lobby, the famously Christian arts and crafts chain, refused to abide by the Obamacare mandate that, in effect, required employers to pay for contraception. There was talk that the chain would have to shut down if it were forced to pay the heavy daily fines enshrined in the law.
But then the enactment of Obamacare was delayed. Then the exchanges were a disaster. And then Hobby Lobby won their case in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. But that wasn’t the end of the story. Obama fired back with an appeal of his own. And the Supreme Court will decide tomorrow if it will hear the appeal or dismiss it.
If the case is heard by the Supreme Court, it should go without saying that it will be an extremely momentous decision, perhaps the most important of my lifetime. This isn’t really about Hobby Lobby. It’s about setting precedents concerning the practical private exercise of religious liberty. As the civil government develops public policies that have more and more to do with private practice, the boundaries and limitations of religious freedom are being tested.
Obama has made it clear in the past that he wants religious exercise to stay inside churches. Eventually even that may not be allowed. But, for now, he certainly doesn’t want religious ideology getting in the way of his progressive plans for the country. Whether it is homosexual marriage or Obamacare, the “religious right” has been told in no uncertain terms that their opinions are not allowed to be put into practice—even in the confines of their own businesses.
If the Supreme Court either dismisses the case, or rules in favor of Hobby Lobby, it will open the door for a huge country-wide loophole to the Affordable Care Act. In other words, any religious organization could legitimately back out of Obamacare with little repercussion. And this would also establish the precedent that private businesses should be allowed to establish religiously-motivated policies without interference from the civil government.
And I’m sure that is exactly what Obama is afraid of. His attempts to completely restructure health care in America have already been plagued with setbacks. If religious organizations can conveniently duck out of the program, Obamacare will largely be dead in the water. I’ll be keeping a close eye on this and reporting back on it soon.