Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. The issue is whether or not a public company owned by religious individuals can deny employees contraception or birth control — items the law says have to be included in basic health coverage.
Obviously, those of us who support church/state separation think that personal decisions about birth control (and the like) should be left up to the people using it, not their Christian bosses. (Of course, it’s ridiculous that health insurance is tied to employment in the first place, but that’s a separate issue.)
Especially telling is this prediction of what could happen if the Court rules in Hobby Lobby’s favor:
If Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood win, the likelihood is that it will be open season for religious exemptions to everyday laws, within and outside of healthcare. If the Supreme Court decides that corporations can have religious rights, then we will see case after case of multinational corporations seeking exemptions based on religious grounds. If Hobby Lobby can refuse to provide contraception, it is hard to see how a Jehovah’s Witness employer could be refused an exemption to providing insurance for blood transfusions. Scientologist employers would surely seek exemptions to providing mental health care insurance. Christian Scientist employers would argue that they should not have to provide any health insurance whatsoever. The effects would go beyond health care, and would affect the current battles regarding LGBT rights, as with the anti-gay bill that almost became law in Arizona. If an employer can be exempted from health care legislation because of religious beliefs, why could he not be exempted from anti-discrimination legislation requiring him to serve LGBT people equally?
No one is taking away the religious freedom of business owners — what we’re objecting to is the imposition of owners’ personal beliefs on their employees. There’s no “substantial burden” placed on business owners when it comes to covering their employees’ health care. As the New York Times editorial board wrote yesterday,
These companies are not religious organizations, nor are they affiliated with religious organizations. But the owners say they are victims of an assault on religious liberty because they personally disapprove of certain contraceptives. They are wrong, and the Supreme Court’s task is to issue a decisive ruling saying so. The real threat to religious liberty comes from the owners trying to impose their religious beliefs on thousands of employees.
To that end, the Secular Coalition for America is hosting a rally at the Supreme Court beginning at 8:30a tomorrow:
Your boss’s religion shouldn’t dictate your health care coverage! Join the SCA and thousands of others to rally on March 25 at the U.S. Supreme Court and make your voice heard.
The cases will be decided this coming June.
(Image via Shutterstock)