Hobby Lobby Case, Part 2

Yesterday, Professor Scott Gaylord and I discussed the religious rights of closely-held corporations under the religion clauses of the First Amendment, one of the main legal issues in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., an important constitutional case which will be argued before the United States Supreme Court next month (25 March, to be more precise).  In summary, some family-owned businesses, such as Hobby Lobby, are objecting to the so-called “HHS mandate” under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Note: “HHS” refers to the Department of Health and Human Services, a federal agency which requires all private firms with more than 50 employees to provide health plans that cover all FDA-approved contraception and sterilization procedures.

After Professor Gaylord carefully and patiently explained why the HHS mandate violates the constitutional rights of these private companies (you can read his full argument, all 70 pages of it, here), I began my talk by offering the following simple wager–I offered to bet $100 (at even odds) that the government will win the Hobby Lobby case, and I also offered to bet (at 10 to 1 odds) that the Supreme Court’s decision in favor of the government would be a unanimous decision.

Why am I so certain about the outcome of this case, so certain that I was willing to bet a small sum of my own money on its outcome?

Here’s why: The owners of the Hobby Lobby are objecting to the contraception coverage part of the HHS mandate on religious grounds. In brief, their argument is that the government is forcing them to finance immoral medical procedures that directly contradict their deeply held religious beliefs. (As an aside, they aren’t objecting to all form of contraception but only to such contraceptive products as Plan B (the morning-after pill) and Ella (the week-after pill) because these types of contraceptives don’t just prevent pregnancies; they abort actual embryos.)

The problem with this logic, however, is that some persons also object to such products like vaccines on religious grounds.  Other religious persons object to blood transfusions.  Yet others object to all forms of medical care.  So, are those parts of the HHS mandate that cover vaccines, blood transfusions, and medical care generally (depending on the religious person doing the objecting) to be declared unconstitutional?  That would be an absurd result.  Hence my willingness to bet real money on the outcome of this case.

Alas, my bet had no takers.

About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
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2 Responses to Hobby Lobby Case, Part 2

  1. Pingback: Arizona Senate Bill 1062 and the Hobby Lobby Case | prior probability

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