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Hobby Lobby & The Illiberal Left

Cato’s Julian Sanchez says the left-wing outrage over the Hobby Lobby ruling has nothing to do with the substance of the ruling, and everything to do with its symbolism.

He points out that the ruling will not require women who work for Hobby Lobby and companies like it to pay more for birth control not covered by their employer-provided health insurance. As Justice Alito explained in his ruling, the Department of Health and Human Services already makes an exception for non-profit entities, which proves that it can be done without much fuss. Under the RFRA, then, the government ought to go that extra mile to accommodate religious dissenters. As Sanchez points out, Hobby Lobby employees can still have access to all FDA-approved contraception at no additional cost — only their employer will not be paying for it.

So why the outrage? Because, contends Sanchez, the left cannot tolerate the message the Court’s ruling sends: that people who have troglodytic views about contraception ought to be accommodated. Excerpt:

Personally, I have no sympathy whatever with the substantive moral views of Hobby Lobby’s owners.   But I’m dismayed at how many friends who style themselves “liberals,” even recognizing the ruling will make no immediate difference in employee access to contraception, seem to regard it as an appalling betrayal that the Court refused to license what amounts to purely symbolic compulsion of people with retrograde ideas. If we accept that the exemption here makes no functional difference to whether people are covered, however, that’s the only rationale left for insisting on direct purchase of coverage by employers—and not, I had thought, a legitimate rationale for government coercion in a liberal democracy.

Once you grasp that the overriding compulsion driving the cultural left on questions like this is the mandate that The Religious Right Must Always Lose, things like this become more understandable.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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