BYU law professor Frederick Mark Gedicks wrote an article (Liberties are out of balance in contraception cases) in the Washington Post, regarding the Hobby Lobby’s (and others) issues with being forced to pay for contraceptives. In the discussion, he argues that the issue is not the religious freedom of the owners, but that of the employees that is at stake. For him, this is clearly an issue of the owners overstepping their bounds in proclaiming and imposing their faith on their employees.
Let’s look at this from another angle. First, no one forces an employee to work for a company. In a free society, I can hire on with any organization willing to take a chance on me. In hiring on with a company, I accept to follow the company’s culture and guidelines. I cut my hair, wear the uniform, do not go to work drunk, show up on time, etc. If at any point I choose no longer to follow the corporate expectations, I am free to part ways with them, and they are free to fire me. That is how things work in a free society.
Only in a society based on non-liberty concepts do we get arguments as Gedicks suggests. Why must contraceptions be made mandatory in a health care plan? Do they protect the life of anyone? Does the person have options to either buy his/her own contraceptions, or buy an insurance policy elsewhere that will provide the pill or condom of choice? The individual retains choice, even if the company chooses not to provide contraceptives. It does not affect the employee’s religion in any way (as if there are religions out there that require contraceptives as part of their worship!). In fact, to mandatorily provide contraceptives in a company’s policy is to also force other employees to subsidize the same.
Gedick is under the wrong assumption (is he really a law professor at BYU???) that government has the authority to impose such things upon society. Only in a totalitarian state is this true. Yet, the Constitution does not give to the federal government such power. Instead, we have seen a corrosion of freedom over the years, greatly accelerated under Presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama.
This same (il)logic would mean that any church that rents out a building for weddings, because it is now a commercial venture, must rent out to any wedding couple, straight or gay, or perhaps even group that wishes to tie the knot. Don’t believe it? It’s already a problem in the state of Hawaii, with the receptions and weddings at the Polynesian Cultural Center now suddenly a target for gay weddings and receptions.
There is a reason why James Madison put freedom of speech, religion and assembly into the First Amendment. On those issues hang all other freedoms and true rights of the American people. Gedicks’ reasoning would sound great in Europe, where religion is not an important issue for most. However, his reasoning is severely flawed in American Constitutional thought. If the Supreme Court ends up agreeing with him, it will be one of the last nails hammered into the coffin of the US Constitution, as the Bill of Rights will no longer have any meaning or purpose. If Liberty is out of balance, it is because there are many seeking to destroy God endowed liberty and replace it with government imposed definitions of rights. And it seems that Gedicks is on the wrong side of the Constitution on this one.