This past week, the U.S. Supreme Court released its decision in the highly-publicized case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. The Court sided with Hobby Lobby (a family-owned business and employer) in a narrow 5-4 ruling, which declared family-owned corporations are not required to pay for insurance coverage for contraception under the Affordable Care Act if doing so conflicts with their religious beliefs.
Many are reacting negatively to the ruling. They’re saying, “Your boss shouldn’t be involved with your birth control.” That’s entirely correct. But the real question is: Why is your boss involved with your health insurance, in the first place?
The whole reason this case came about is because the federal government is mandating employers (of a certain size) to provide health insurance for their employees. Also, tax incentives and various other laws and regulations going back at least to the 1940s have incentivized and/or required federal involvement in the health insurance and medical marketplace.
In a totally free market for health insurance and medicine, it’s unlikely employers would be providing health insurance on such a large scale. People would be responsible for obtaining it on their own, and they’d have a vast, complex and competitive marketplace from which to choose the health insurance or medical options that most suited them.
One of the best arguments in favor of a free market for medicine is what normally would be considered a “liberal” or “leftist” one. Once government takes over the pricing and service content of medical care and health insurance — as with Obamacare, it now decisively has — then the more people are left at the mercy of what various third parties determine about their most private decisions. If a particular President or member of the Supreme Court happens to be hostile to reproductive rights, then there’s nothing to fall back on. As Ayn Rand [author of Atlas Shrugged] would say, “Brother, you asked for it.” Or perhaps I should say: Sister, you asked for it.
To me, the person to most focus on with this decision is Chief Justice John Roberts. In the case upholding the constitutionality of Obamacare back in 2012, Roberts was the swing vote. He basically justified Obamacare on the premise that, “If a majority voted for it, then it’s OK. If you don’t like what the majority decided, then take it back to Congress.” He also argued that Obamacare is a tax, not a mandate, despite how the Hobby Lobby case itself proves it’s a mandate, and Roberts knows it. Chief Justice Roberts has not taken the heat he deserves for his outrageous, anti-Constitutional rationalization in that decision.
As for the other eight members of the Court, they voted consistently, both in that case and in Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby. The four who upheld Obamacare in the first place quite logically upheld it here. The four who were against it in the first place logically undermined this one element of it. Roberts is the one who switched his vote — only when it came to upholding religious values. As for private property or individual rights, he cared little for those when it came to evaluating Obamacare as a whole. What does this tell you about the intellectual stature or character of our Chief Justice?
Those applauding the Hobby Lobby decision call it a victory for “religious rights.” Those opposing it insist that neither government nor employers have a right to determine your reproductive habits. Actually, both sides completely miss the boat by evading the only issue that matters: individual rights.
The only “right” is the right of the individual to be free from force and fraud. Obamacare denies individual rights by compelling employers to pay for things against their will, and compelling individuals to purchase things against their will. Once you establish this principle, control of everything else is only a matter of time. You’ve already surrendered the one right that makes all other rights possible: The right to be left alone.
The same applies to those clamoring for “religious rights.” There’s no such thing. You have no right to impose your religion on others using the force of government. You have no right to say, as John Roberts has, that “Socialized medicine and government compulsion are right — so long as it doesn’t tread on religion.” This is nothing more than a recipe for religious dictatorship, whether Roberts intended it that way or not.
Yes, it’s tyranny to force a religious person to act against his beliefs by paying for another’s abortion. At the same time, it’s tyranny to force anybody to do anything against their will. Why does Roberts only apply this to abortion and contraception, but not anything else?
A plague on both houses: The proponents of Big Government Obamacare who whine when the government sets the terms; as well as the proponents of religious rights who are fine with government coercion, so long as it’s from a religious point-of-view rather than a secular one.
The only way out of this mess is individual rights, consistently applied. That would mean the end of Obamacare and all things socialist. It would also mean the complete separation of church and state, now and forever.
Let me know when we get there.
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