In the immediate aftermath of the Supreme Court’s final decisions for this term, conservatives appear jubilant in apparently winning two key court cases. In Harris v. Quinn, the high court ruled 5-4 that a group of home health care providers who work for a state government cannot be coerced into providing financial support for a public sector union. In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the court ruled 5-4 against Obamacare’s contraception mandate, which would have forced a privately owned business to provide abortion and contraception-related health care coverage to its employees.
Indeed this is great news for religious liberty, as these decisions were both one vote from going the other way.
But therein lies the problem.
Why should bedrock inalienable rights pursuant to natural law and nature’s God be subject to the whims of nine justices in black robes? Why should we have to wait with baited breath on Twitter, wondering if our right to uphold our religious beliefs will be preserved? Remember, four justices clearly held that government can coerce a private company into providing any service that violates our rights. This should scare us all.
Moreover, to the extent that we place our rights and destiny into the hands of the remaining five justices, their decisions were quite narrow in scope. In the Hobby Lobby case, the majority ruling only covered “closely held private corporations.” Hence, until any future ruling is handed down on more expansive grounds, the government can still coerce religious institutions, non-profits, and publicly-traded corporations to provide abortifacients.
Furthermore, the decision only applied to contraception coverage and no other forms of religious liberty. The justices made it clear that coercion to accommodate gay marriages or other “ENDA style” mandates could be fair game.
We are supposed to rejoice over the fact that a narrow set of businesses were spared from the worst form of coercion? I guess so. Sadly, it could have been worse.
In the Harris case, while the court ruled against the coercion of home health care workers to join a union, they declined to uphold the natural rights of any worker to work freely – unfettered by unions. Why should any worker, particularly government workers who are funded by taxpayers, be coerced into supporting the circuitous Democrat campaign finance operation through unions?
There’s something fundamentally wrong that we now live in a time when we must wait for a new court case in order to preserve all areas of liberty – religious or anything else.
So was this a good day at the court? Sadly, yes. We are at the point when a day like today is reason to rejoice.
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