The Supreme Court is allowing employer beliefs to hold sway regardless of consequences

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It is no surprise that PG columnist Ruth Ann Dailey would praise Justice Samuel Alito’s decision (“High Court Gets It Right on Religious Liberty,” July 7), but where she finds wisdom I find folly. Is it wise for the Supreme Court, representing the force of law and medical precedent, to interfere with a moral belief based solely on an individual’s religious conviction? When there is a public consequence, I, in opposition to Ms. Dailey, say yes. Why? Because more than just the rights of one party in this dispute are involved.

What about the right of the Hobby Lobby employee to use a contraceptive method that would be wholly acceptable to her conscience, which is upheld to be contraceptive not abortive by both medical practice and the precedent of existing law? In Ms. Dailey’s whole discussion the moral sensibilities and rights of the one receiving medical care are not even mentioned.

What is the subtext of that? Probably that health care is a privilege to be dispensed by the employer and not a right of the employee. Or it may be what Justice Alito thought, that the penalty a woman would pay for choosing an IUD and paying for it herself (about one month’s pay for those who work for minimum wage) is less onerous than forcing an employee to act against his own privately held religious beliefs.

In either case I can only say that I strongly disagree. Religious liberty, like any other right in our Constitution, is subject to qualification if the consequence is to inflict greater harm on the public than any individual benefit that could be gained by allowing observance of it. That, too, is well-established precedent. Not so for this “conservative” court, whose stance along with Ms. Dailey’s is fairly characterized as “reactionary.” Its intent is to take us back to a time when the religious beliefs of the ruling authority (monarch, dictator or employer) were allowed to hold sway regardless of consequence for anyone else.


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