www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

Consolidation by starvation -9/16/2014, 9:54 AM

School mergers tricky -9/16/2014, 9:54 AM

Hotel tipping -9/16/2014, 9:54 AM

Abuse video revealed nothing we didn't know -9/15/2014, 9:20 AM

Lessons from 13 years ago -9/15/2014, 9:20 AM

The zero option -9/14/2014, 1:31 PM

Why branding ISIS matters -9/14/2014, 1:31 PM

School efficiency -9/14/2014, 1:31 PM

Favors and loot for sale -9/12/2014, 10:10 AM

The 'college experience' -9/12/2014, 10:10 AM

Ellis schools -9/11/2014, 10:10 AM

Hold on, Mr. President -9/11/2014, 9:26 AM

The best bathroom -9/11/2014, 9:26 AM

The day the world stood still -9/11/2014, 9:26 AM

No one can play your part -9/9/2014, 9:55 AM

Playing candidate dress-up -9/9/2014, 9:55 AM

Congress at work -9/9/2014, 9:55 AM

Schmidt is the answer -9/9/2014, 9:55 AM

The liabilities of cannabis use -9/8/2014, 9:21 AM

Downtown decision -9/8/2014, 9:21 AM

Why are red states so far behind? -9/8/2014, 9:20 AM

Taylor's next move -9/5/2014, 10:16 AM

Consider trees to spruce up yard -9/5/2014, 10:15 AM

Washington takes action to reform VA -9/5/2014, 10:15 AM

Umbehr stands out -9/4/2014, 12:25 PM

Leadership education -- it's not a scam -9/4/2014, 12:24 PM

Not supporting Brownback's re-election -9/4/2014, 12:23 PM

A fair fair debate -9/3/2014, 9:23 AM

Suicide in today's age -9/3/2014, 9:23 AM

Regulation overreach -9/3/2014, 9:23 AM

Sharpton, Kobach's common ground -9/3/2014, 9:23 AM

In charge of all -9/3/2014, 9:23 AM

Pocket-book debate? -9/3/2014, 9:23 AM

Educating voters on education -9/2/2014, 9:33 AM

Crazy election season in Kansas -9/2/2014, 9:33 AM

An erosion of authenticity -8/31/2014, 4:39 PM

Blasphemy, free speech and the 'black mass' -8/31/2014, 4:39 PM

Labor Day -8/31/2014, 4:39 PM

Flexing muscles -8/29/2014, 10:00 AM

Blacks must confront reality -8/29/2014, 10:00 AM

The leadership scam -8/29/2014, 10:00 AM

Green monster -8/28/2014, 10:14 AM

The resurrection of Rick Perry -8/28/2014, 10:14 AM

Senate campaign -8/28/2014, 10:14 AM

Right to be heard? -8/26/2014, 10:08 AM

Over-covering Ferguson -8/26/2014, 10:07 AM

Figuring out the tax debate -8/26/2014, 10:07 AM

An obvious ploy -8/25/2014, 9:29 AM

Not-so-beautiful sunset -8/25/2014, 9:29 AM

Cannabis therapy -- Why bother? -8/25/2014, 9:29 AM

Business climate of Kansas -8/24/2014, 11:39 AM

James Foley: Courage in the face of danger -8/24/2014, 11:39 AM

Festering wound -8/24/2014, 11:39 AM

Big banks settling -8/22/2014, 10:16 AM

Tuition pays for this -8/22/2014, 10:16 AM

College textbook scam -8/22/2014, 10:16 AM

Policing a riot -8/21/2014, 9:45 AM

Evil strikes back -8/21/2014, 9:45 AM

Art appreciation -8/21/2014, 9:45 AM

Abuse of power -8/20/2014, 8:22 AM

Ferguson police arrest reporters for reporting -8/20/2014, 8:21 AM

Don't 'got milk' -8/20/2014, 8:21 AM

Another road map to success? -8/19/2014, 10:05 AM

It's the abuse of power, stupid -8/19/2014, 10:04 AM

Riots in Ferguson, and what they mean -8/18/2014, 9:57 AM

One of billions -8/18/2014, 9:57 AM

The GOP presents: Barack-nado -8/17/2014, 2:08 PM

Media and Missouri: What's going on? -8/17/2014, 2:08 PM

Answer the bell -8/15/2014, 8:58 AM

Get ready for denials -8/15/2014, 8:49 AM

Mental illness -8/15/2014, 8:49 AM

Mindless drones -8/14/2014, 9:27 AM

Can-do attitude -8/14/2014, 9:27 AM

'Poor door' -- a symbol of a truth we all know -8/13/2014, 9:19 AM

Eyeing the Ogallala Aquifer -8/13/2014, 9:19 AM

The slacker congress -8/12/2014, 9:02 AM

CIA vs. Senate -8/12/2014, 9:02 AM

The cannabis conundrum -- we against us -8/11/2014, 8:55 AM

The debate is over -8/11/2014, 8:54 AM

The 'Almost' Revolution -8/10/2014, 3:28 PM

Is cross a history lesson or state religion? -8/10/2014, 3:28 PM

Another downgrade -8/10/2014, 3:28 PM

State economy plays critical role in the future of FHSU -8/10/2014, 2:09 PM

Building on past successes for a stronger future -8/10/2014, 2:09 PM

Will Palin's channel rival Comedy Central? -8/8/2014, 9:25 AM

Western anti-Semitism -8/8/2014, 9:25 AM

Patrolmen without borders -8/7/2014, 10:13 AM

Not a choice -8/7/2014, 10:12 AM

Ebola politics -8/7/2014, 10:12 AM

Too few voters -8/6/2014, 10:03 AM

A special breed -8/6/2014, 10:03 AM

A license to vote -8/6/2014, 10:03 AM

Selfies in Auschwitz -- and why it's wrong -8/6/2014, 10:03 AM

Election turnout -8/5/2014, 9:19 AM

Dairy's closing -8/5/2014, 9:19 AM

Concealing the Statehouse debate -8/5/2014, 9:18 AM

Beauty all around us -8/5/2014, 9:18 AM

Needing another senator -8/4/2014, 9:57 AM

Doing what he said -8/4/2014, 9:57 AM

Needing a new understanding of energy -8/4/2014, 9:57 AM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

Beyond the outrage

Published on -7/13/2014, 11:16 AM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

Outrage about the Supreme Court's decision in the Hobby Lobby case reached fever pitch last week as congressional Democrats prepare to introduce legislation to reverse the ruling.

"Your health care decisions are not your boss's business," Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., told the New York Times. "Since the Supreme Court decided it will not protect women's access to health care, I will."

Of course, any attempt to reverse Hobby Lobby will fail in the House of Representatives. So Democrats are looking to the midterm elections -- already sending fundraising appeals headlined "Supreme Court decides that corporate rights trump women's rights."

Before going off that deep end, let's all take a deep breath -- and take a closer look at what the high court did and did not do.

I would argue the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores is neither the all-out assault on women's rights alleged by some on the left -- nor the significant expansion of religious freedom trumpeted by many on the right.

Instead, the Hobby Lobby ruling is a narrowly tailored attempt to balance the conscience claims of religious owners of closely held businesses against the government's interest in ensuring employees of those businesses receive health coverage, including full access to contraception services.

True, the court's finding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 protects closely held corporations breaks new ground.

"Protecting the free-exercise rights of corporations like Hobby Lobby," argued Justice Samuel Alito in the majority opinion, "protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control those companies."

In a strongly worded dissent joined by three other justices, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg argues religious owners of businesses such as Hobby Lobby must comply with the contraception mandate. Recognizing closely held corporations as "persons" protected by RFRA, said the dissent, allows religious employers to impose their beliefs on employees -- and opens the door to endless lawsuits about a parade of claims for religious exemptions.

But, as Justice Alito takes pains to explain, the Hobby Lobby decision "is concerned solely with the contraceptive mandate." In most other instances, the government will have compelling interests such as health and safety that will trump religious claims for exemption when no less restrictive alternative is available.

What tips the scale in favor of Hobby Lobby in this case, in the view of the court's majority, is the fact the government already has provided an accommodation for nonprofit organizations with religious objections to the contraceptive mandate.

Writing for the majority, Justice Alito acknowledges the government might have a compelling interest in full health care coverage for women. But if the government can accomplish that interest and simultaneously protect religious conscience -- as it has done with religious non-profits -- then the government must make the accommodation.

That's exactly what's going to happen. In the wake of Hobby Lobby, the Obama administration will create a workaround for closely held corporations with religious objections to some forms of contraception -- modeled on the one already in place for religious non-profits (in which, for example, the insurer excludes contraceptive coverage from the employer's plan and provides separate payments for contraceptive services).

The result will be a win-win: Religious owners will be protected -- women employees will be fully covered.

This outcome, I believe, best upholds American principles and ideals. Striking a balance between religious claims of conscience and laws designed to serve the common good is a balancing act as old as the Republic.

From the founding period when Quakers were exempted from military service to more recent accommodations for Amish families to withdraw their children from school at age 14, adult Jehovah's Witnesses to refuse blood transfusions, Native Americans to use peyote in religious ceremonies (to name but a few), the United States has long been one of the rare nations in the world to take claims of religious conscience seriously.

It's sometimes complicated and often messy, but protecting religious freedom is what makes America a haven for the cause of conscience.

Charles C. Haynes is director of the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute.

chaynes@newseum.org

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos