By THE EDITORIAL BOARD – NEW YORK TIMES MARCH 22, 2014
This week, the owners of two secular, for-profit corporations will ask the Supreme Court to take a radical turn and allow them to impose their religious views on their employees — by refusing to permit them contraceptive coverage as required under the Affordable Care Act.
The Supreme Court has consistently resisted claims for religious exemptions from laws that are neutral and apply broadly when the exemptions would significantly harm other people, as this one would. To approve it would flout the First Amendment, which forbids government from favoring one religion over another — or over nonbelievers.
The showdown will take place Tuesday when the Supreme Court hears arguments on two consolidated challenges to the Affordable Care Act. The owners of Hobby Lobby, a chain of arts-and-crafts stores, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a cabinetmaker, want to be exempted from the sound requirement that employer health plans cover without a co-payment all birth control methods and services approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
“the Constitution’s establishment clause enforce[es] the separation of church and state and bar[s] government from favoring one religion over another or nonbelievers.” Siding with Hobby Lobby would “grant private for-profit employers an exemption that would effectively allow them to impose their beliefs on employees to deny them a valuable government benefit.”
In our opinion – Deseret News: In Hobby Lobby case, freedom is under threat
“[A]round the world[,] freedom of religion is under threat. … We see governments engaging in discrimination … against the faithful. … We, therefore, believe in the inherent dignity of every human being — dignity that no earthly power can take away. And central to that dignity is freedom of religion — the right of every person to practice their faith how they choose … and to do this free from persecution and fear. … [H]istory shows that nations that uphold the rights of their people — including the freedom of religion — are ultimately more just and more peaceful and more successful. Nations that do not uphold these rights sow the bitter seeds of instability and violence.”
These powerful words could have been spoken by a minister. Or by an advocate for the two corporations, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, now pressed by the government to provide abortion-inducing contraceptives under the Affordable Care Act. Or by the authors of one of the 59 separate “friend of the court” briefs filed in their landmark case that will be heard by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution enshrine every individual’s right and privilege to enjoy a robust conception of religious freedom. In the Hobby Lobby case, we urge the Supreme Court to underscore these first principles.
(image via DonkeyHotey)