The New York Times blithely and blindly contradicts itself in its column arguing for a flatly immoral and unconstitutional ruling from the Supreme Court against Hobby Lobby. Oral arguments will be heard tomorrow on whether Hobby Lobby’s owners, against their will, their conscience and their religious convictions, can be forced to provide abortion-causing drugs to their employees at their own expense.
It’s worth noting at the outset that no one who works for Hobby Lobby is being denied their “right” to buy abortion-inducing contraceptives. They can still do it, on their own time and on their own dime. Nothing, absolutely nothing, that Hobby Lobby is doing here endangers that “right.” Hobby Lobby simply does not want its corporate resources used to kill babies. If some corporations want their assets used to protect the environment, it certainly should be permissible for other corporations to use their assets to protect human life.
The Times argues that it is wrong for Hobby Lobby’s owners to “impose their religious views on their employees.” But they apparently believe it’s perfectly fine for the justices on the Supreme Court to “impose their religious views” on employers. This is a spectacularly disingenuous position for the Times to take.
If imposing religious and moral values on others is wrong, as the Times contends, then it’s wrong when anybody does it to anybody. The Court, if the Times is right, has no more ethical authority to do this than anyone else. But that’s exactly what the Times want the Supremes to do: to impose their own moral views of the sanctity of life on the owners of a private business.
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So the Times is blind to the plain fact that, according to its own value system, it wants to allow the Supremes to do something grossly immoral and unethical on the grounds of morality and ethics. Not only is this nauseatingly hypocritical, it is nothing less than an argument for abject tyranny. It reveals a staggering level of obtuseness on the part of the Times, whose editors are apparently unable even to see the double-standard and self-contradiction manifest in their own editorial.
The Times also trivializes the financial impact of an adverse Supreme Court decision. “[E]mployers,” says the Times, “are not actually required to offer employee health plans. They could instead pay a tax to help support the government subsidies that are available to those using a health insurance exchange.” Well, that “tax” in Hobby Lobby’s case would amount to $1.2 million per day, which would bankrupt them in a matter of weeks. Easy for the Times to say. It’s not their money or their jobs which are at risk.
The Times condescendingly sneers at the views of Hobby Lobby’s owners by dismissing them as nothing more than a matter of their “personal disappro(val”) of certain contraceptives. But this is not a matter of “personal disapproval.” It is a matter of the deeply-held conviction that God himself disapproves of the termination of the lives innocent human beings, even in their earliest stages of development.
The Times tries to hide behind the ruse that Hobby Lobby is not a “person” but a corporation. “[F]or-profit corporations are not ‘persons’ capable of prayer or other religious behavior.” Then why is every store in the Hobby Lobby chain closed every Sunday? Since they are closed because Sunday is the Lord’s Day, that certainly sounds like “religious behavior” to any objective observer.
The manifest problem here is that the owners of Hobby Lobby are, in fact, persons, who have deeply held religious views on the nature of life in the womb, and possess a constitutional right to exercise those religious views in every part of their lives, including the way they run their business.
This right to the free exercise of religion does not belong to organizations, it belongs to individuals. Organizations have them because the individuals who make them up have them. The Court has already affirmed this view of First Amendment rights in its Citizens United ruling. Every right in the Bill of Rights is an individual right; not one is a group or organizational right. Churches, for example, have religious liberty and assembly rights because every individual who attends has them.
In point of fact, every American has an individual right to the free exercise of religion, and he does not have to check that right at the door when he walks into his office on Monday morning.
The Times argues that no one is depriving the owners of Hobby Lobby of their freedom of “worship.” Says the Times, “The companies’ owners remain free to worship as they choose.” But the Constitution does not guarantee freedom of “worship,” it guarantees the “free exercise” of religion. The “exercise” of religion cannot be boxed into the four walls of church buildings on Sundays from 11 am to noon. It is a constitutional right, that, like every other single right in the Constitution, is in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The position of the Times’ editors on the extent of the Constitution’s protection of First Amendment rights is manifestly absurd. Would they ever accept the proposition that the Times itself possesses freedom of the press only one hour a week, or only inside the Times’ building, or only when the Supreme Court says it does?
Or, to pick another example, would they accept the view that freedom of speech is a right that can only be exercised one hour a week, say on Fridays from 11 am to noon, inside particular buildings, but verboten in public the rest of the week?
The Times essentially is saying that the constitutional right to freedom of religion is not being infringed as long as Christians are allowed an hour a week of liberty. That doesn’t sound like liberty, it sounds like solitary confinement with 23 hours in a cell and an hour a day in the yard.
The Times’ view is fundamentally no different from arguing that Americans can still have slaves 167 hours a week and not be in violation of the 13th Amendment as long as they give those slaves that one hour a week to do anything they want.
Bottom line: either freedom and liberty belong to us all every second of every day or they do not belong to us at all.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.