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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Hobby Lobby, Ideology, and Constitutional Philosophy

As many readers know, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for an exemption to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (i.e., Obamacare) requirement that certain for-profit corporations have to provide contraception coverage to their workers. They are seeking an exclusion on religious grounds from the health care law's requirements, maintaining that some contraceptive products, like the morning-after pill, are equivalent to abortion. The case's outcome appears to hinge on whether freedom of religious conscience can be extended to corporations (rather than just for individuals). Oral arguments were held before the Supreme Court last week.

I've read several op-eds on the case, and I've come away with the sense that in most cases ideology trumps philosophy, that the side people take is largely determined by their ideological leanings rather than their constitutional philosophy. In other words, most of those who are pro-life find the argument that religious freedom can be extended to corporations compelling, while most of those who are pro-choice do not. No doubt there are exceptions (e.g., people who actually study constitutional law), but I'm willing to bet that the best predictor of someone's opinion on the case is not their constitutional philosophy concerning religious freedom but whether they are pro-life or pro-choice.

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