Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Hobby of Regulation

The Supreme Court issued their ruling  in the case of Burwell vs.Hobby Lobby. The Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, effectively excluding it from some of the contraception mandates contained in the PPACA.
The Court split 5-4 along political lines. For those with the patience, you can download and read the Court's decision here. Your can read the translation from legalese into standard English and analysis in several links here.

Outside of the legal world, pundits of every political persuasion have analyzed the case and the ruling from every conceivable angle:

*Religion of corporate directors vs. religion of employees

*Corporate rights vs. women's rights

* Birth control vs. abortifacients

*Rights of non-profits vs. rights of for profit corporations

*Government regulation vs. religious liberty

The court case, of course, centered on that last issue. It involved not only the first amendment constitutional protection of religion, but also the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. (To the dismay of Progressive opponents of Hobby Lobby, that law passed unanimously in the House of Representatives with only  three dissenting votes in the Senate (among the Jesse Helms), was introduced in the Senate by Charles Shumer, and enjoyed the support of such liberal "luminaries" as Kennedy and Kerry, Feinstein and Boxer, Metzenbaum, Biden, and Shumer, and was signed into law by President Clinton. The court ruled that PPACA imposed as substantial burden on the religious freedom of Hobby Lobby, in violation of the RFRA.

A memo to Progressives: if this case infuriates you, stop passing regulations that eventually end up at the Supreme Court anyway.

Conservatives should celebrate the victory by Hobby Lobby. The decision at least erects a small barrier to the ever expanding government intrusion and regulation generated by PPACA. (Indeed, regulation seems to be a hobby of sorts for the federal government these days--done as much for fun and fulfillment as for executive branch responsibility.)

It is also a reminder how broad the way remains for government regulation, especially through the PPACA. In Burwell vs Hobby Lobby, the Court sanctioned a narrow realm of liberty for those who profess belief in an abstract theoretical construct they call God. Meanwhile, those who oppose PPACA on the more substantive grounds of property rights and the rights of contract remain subject to its mandates.

In addition, the religious claims of Hobby Lobby involve other complexities outside the question of law. The Green family who owns Hobby Lobby no doubt are devout Christians. And one can argue for the morality of the marketplace--where humans both cooperate and compete in the exchange of goods, services, and idea for their betterment. But the market can have negative outcomes, even for Christians like the Greens. Hobby Lobby now has over 500 stores with  thousands of employees. It is one of the smaller "big box" retailers that have become so prevalent. Like the others, however, it must go to China for suppliers to remain competitive.  According to the United States Department of Labor, the average Chinese hourly wage in manufacturing is $1.74. And Chinese workers, of course, are not American workers.








2 comments:

CW said...

>>”… the Court sanctioned a narrow realm of liberty for those who profess belief in an abstract theoretical construct they call God. Meanwhile, hose who oppose PPACA on the more substantive grounds of property rights and the rights of contract remain subject to its mandates.”

What an excellent point, Victor. Perhaps we’ll see a lot more people finding religion in the near future.

P.S.
When I first read that paragraph I thought the last word was “madness.” Would that be a reverse Freudian slip?

RightDetour said...

HI CW!
Unfortunately, the first time around SCOTUS gave no help on the grounds of property rights to the right of contract between employers and employees. Maybe Congress should pass a "Property Right Restoration Act" and a "Contractual Rights Restoration Act" that will give other the same rights religious folks now enjoy because of the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act."