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Hobby Lobby: When the Personal Becomes Political

June 30th, 2014 - 3:08 pm

When Gerald Ford remarked that “a government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have,” he might have been commenting on the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision which ruled 5-4, as the Washington Post reports: “(T)he arts-and-crafts chain does not have to offer insurance for four types of birth control that conflict with company owners’ religious beliefs.”

Walter Russell Mead gets what is at issue. Beyond the narrow facts of the decision, the case itself underlines the unpleasantly large scope that government regulation now covers. Government, to which everything has been referred, has enrolled one and all in a zero-sum game. Now everything A does affects B; and everything B does affects A. In so doing the giant state has become the mortal foe of diversity. Writing in the American Interest, professor Mead says:

As the United States becomes more and more culturally pluralistic we will see more disagreement in all areas of society — including over what the federal government deems “essential health benefits.” Here, as elsewhere, promoting decentralized and individualized decision-making can tamp down conflict and respect everyone’s freedom to live according to their principles. An employer-provided system can pit employers and employees against each other; a fully nationalized system can likewise ignite culture wars over taxpayer funding for this or that objectionable health care benefit.

“Why,” liberals well ask, “is government deciding what a woman can or can’t do with her body?” The answer unfortunately is “because government previously decided to make someone else pay for it.”  The “personal has become political” and wow, is that what it means?

Eugene Volokh, summarizing the decision for the layman in plain English at the Washington Post, notes that the whole legal dispute is rooted in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which ironically was enacted by a Democratically controlled Congress (Robert Byrd heading the Senate and Tom Foley the House). The bill was actually introduced by Chuck Schumer. RFRA was as blue as could be.

The premise seemed harmless enough. It provided, as Eugene Volokh notes, that “that religious objectors may go to court to demand religious exemptions from federal laws.” But Murphy entered the picture in a classic case of the Law of Unintended Consequences. Now liberals find that having put government in charge of a private space, they will find things sometimes go against them, which was not how it was supposed to work.

The phrase “the personal is political” sounded good, until it backfired.

The unrelenting liberal drive to expand the powers of the state unintentionally leads to “winner take all” effect. The more power liberals get the more they must keep control, not just of that individual power but of the whole system of powers.

Every power grab represents at least as much danger to the grabber as to the grabbee. Obama, who attempted to seize control of one-sixth of the U.S. economy via Obamacare, finds he must retain control of health decisions for his political life. Anyone who creates Deep State instruments of political power cannot relinquish what he’s created lest it be turned against him. Having conjured up state demons from the vasty deep, they must on no account be ceded to Republican sorcerers.

Thus he becomes the slave, not the master of his own creation. Liberty is practical only while government remains powerless in some things. Once government becomes powerful in all things then it becomes just as much a menace to Sandra Fluke as to Hobby Lobby — though she hasn’t realized that yet.

Every student of military history will recall that if you try to take Moscow you risk Berlin. Hitler forgot that. So alas, have liberals. Obama assumed he could stay in charge of Obamacare; amend or delay it as he would. But he never anticipated he would be paid back in his own coin. He was all for steering wheels until he got handed the plastic steering wheel.

Naturally his response has been volcanic. In a measure of his rage, Time reports that Obama has decided to give Congress the chance of working with him to upend the Supreme Court decision:

The White House denounced the Supreme Court’s decision Monday to allow for-profit companies to refuse payment for certain employee birth control insurance coverage because of religious objections. “Today’s decision jeopardizes the health of women that are employed by these companies,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

But Earnest quickly added that President Obama, who has been touring the country promoting his ability to work around Congress, plans no immediate executive actions to remedy the situation created by the Hobby Lobby ruling. “The Supreme Court was ruling on the application of a specific law that was passed by Congress,” Earnest said. “So what we’d like is for Congress to take action to pass another law that would address this problem.”

It is a boon Obama does not grant lightly. In other matters he has lost patience. Reuters reports that in the matter of immigration, he’ll act without Congress. “President Barack Obama said on Monday he would take executive action to reform the U.S. immigration system after hopes of passing legislation in Congress officially died.”

What could go wrong? 

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   

I believe Hobby Lobby was wrongly decided. I believe Sandra Fluke and all other women who swoon over and voted for Barack Obama should be FORCED to take free contraceptives. I realize this would be a slow process, but eventually it would result in a higher IQ gene pool. We can identify these women by their posture. Any woman of child bearing age who leans left will receive, at no cost, an unlimited supply of candy kisses and birth control pills. As a fisherman I know the difference between a flounder and a fluke, and Sandra is a flounder. And yet, this decision could easily provoke unpregnant women who desire to remain in that condition to take to the streets and hang us unsuspecting oppressor males.

The war on women, Lefties rage
Has entered a new phase
The Right has stirred a hornet’s nest of wrath
As angry women will engage
With those who cry who pays
What’s fair is that we take from those who hath
Yes history turns on little things
The snowball rolls downhill
As angry women storm the palace gates
And hang the noisome dukes and kings
And throttle men at will
Then wonder where to go to find them mates

16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
The "pen and phone" are definitely a two-edged sword - whatever it can give or take, it can also take or give.

With a pen and a phone, a determined "far-right President" could:

Round up and immediately deport every last person in this country illegally - and jail anyone who was harboring them.

Raid, close down, and jail the owners / employees of every last head shop in the country - regardless of whether the State has legalized marijuana.

Declare that homosexuality is a public health risk - and round up every acknowledged homosexual, placing them in isolation camps for the good of the public.

Designate the Democratic Party as a domestic terrorist organization - seizing all of its assets, and jailing all of its leaders.

Absolutely none of these "Executive Actions" is unconstitutional under the Obama Precedent.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
While I can think of no reason that I would do business with Hobby Lobby, I wish there was some way that my good will did them some good in the marketplace. As it is I may have to travel across America eating Chick-fil-a and cake and custard eclairs from bullied bakers. It is a tough job but someone should do it, for the Constitution. The Leftists at DU or HuffPo probably have put together Enemies Lists that can serve as helpful guides for those looking for the oppressed in need of help. My decontamination suit is at the cleaners but someone else may want to go in and return to provide a list.

It is time to go full Alinsky on the Left. Red State local prosecutors should begin seeking out opportunities to charge prominent Democrats with violations of obscure statutes. Every time a Democrat shows a nose in a Red State, or Red county in places like Illinois or New York, they should fear being arrested for the Nanny whose documents taxes or health care are iffy. I want to see the Youtube videos, "Excuse me Ms. Pelosi, can you explain how the paper got in the glass recycling bin?" and "Mr. Soros we take our littering laws very seriously here."
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (65)
All Comments   (65)
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I've learned recently that this debate presents an opportunity to steal a common Leftist line and turn it around on them.

Leftist: "This is Christian religious bigotry. Hobby Lobby has to pay for birth control!"

Me, sounding confused. "But... they're a hobby company."

Leftist, now a bit off balance. "What does that have to do with it?"

Me: "They're a hobby company. They don't do health care. Health care is between the patient and the doctor."

Leftist, feeling the now-I-gotcha moment. "Right, they have no business telling a woman what she can or can't have."

Me: "That's right. I agree. They shouldn't be in the business of paying for a person's health care, that should be entirely between patient and doctor. Why should the government force them into it?"

Leftist: "But they have to pay for it."

Me: "No, that's between the patient and the doctor."

The danger is that the Leftist then heads down the path of "single payer"- having realized that a company that sells yarn has no business compensating its employees with birth control, the last ditch effort in defense of "I shouldn't have to pay for what I want!" is "Everybody should pay for what I want!"

And the VA has presented us with a nice picture of how well that works.

Sarah Palin was wrong. There will be no Death Panels. There will be Life Affirmation Panels, in which bureaucrats ordered to meet quotas put your account number into the column for "Happily enjoying a pain free existence" though you are, in real terms, dead.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
When Obama signed the 2,000+ page ACA into law, he also set himself king of what medical treatment old people will be allowed to have.

How? Obama appoints members to a absolutist ruling committe: an IPAB board. When? after Medicare/Medicaid growth exceeds some percentage.

The UK has an equivalent board, cited by Dr. Ezekial Emanual who "adores" the NHS. For example, this UK board approved something called the Liverpool Care Protocol, which has finally been exposed as bad for Great Britain's population. Read this article about the brutal realities of this process - it is euthanasia by dehydration and drugs.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2364029/How-Liverpool-Care-Pathway-used-excuse-appalling-care.html
-------------------------------------------------------------------
" In November last year ministers ordered an independent review into its use after it was revealed up to 60,000 patients die on the LCP each year without giving their consent.

"A third of families are also kept in the dark when doctors withdraw lifesaving treatment from loved ones.

"The pathway involves withdrawal of lifesaving treatment, with the sick sedated and usually denied nutrition and fluids. Death typically takes place within 29 hours.

"Records from 178 hospitals also show that thousands of people on the pathway are left to die in pain because nurses do not do enough to keep them comfortable while drugs are administered.

"Stories of nurses shouting at families who give a patient a drink were frequent as were stories of people who were just left to get on with it with no regular observations or review.’

Concerns have been raised that clinical judgments are being skewed by incentives for hospitals to use the pathway."
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
re: "Concerns have been raised that clinical judgments are being skewed by incentives for hospitals to use the pathway."

Now, why would the UK incentivize hospitals and doctors who use this euthanasia plan with high frequency?

Simple: The UK's Treasury, which pays out senior "social security" checks every month, will pay less if seniors die faster. The NHS staff, also paid by the UK Treasury, are happy to oblige. Bonuses paid to the NHS administrators and doctors sweeten the deal. Just like the VA, and no one in either country will be indicted, prosecuted or sent to jail.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
And the big-government types left and right are perfectly OK with that, as long as it's OTHER PEOPLE being forced to do things they don't agree with.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Now liberals find that having put government in charge of a private space, they will find things sometimes go against them, which was not how it was supposed to work." -Wretchard

As that unbalanced, somewhat twitchy, and more than half-possessed source of horror, H.P. Lovecraft knew only too well, the First Law of Necromancy is "Don't call up what you can't put down." That's pretty much what the Left has done, broken that law in spades, on many levels.

"Obama even in his ‘magnanimity’ wants to resolve the problem with yet another law, yet another acquisition of power." -Wretchard

Obviously, they're C'thuloid entirely--don't they ever think about where such a continual acquisition of power could end? Indeed, must end? Their rank and file are too stupid to wonder, and their leaders are too evil to care.

"It is not only Republican sorcerers." -Subotai

I like that image, Subotai. They're "Malicious Enchanters", both the Repub Establishment and their "evil twins" the Dems, and we're like Prince Rilian, dragged beneath the earth and choked to death in their dark spells. Or so they think.

An Préachán
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Is that 1st law a corollary to, "never sleep with someone who is crazier than yourself?"
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
--tho that does pretty much restrict you to gals who disagree with you on that 1st law and its corollary.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
--see, if you never sleep with someone crazier than yourself, then she would have to be sleeping with someone crazier than herself, which means, ipso facto, you ARE sleeping with someone crazier than yourself.

This is an instance of the Groucho Marxist Principle wherein no discerning person could be within a group which does not allow no discerning persons.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble..."
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
"The greatest irony is it promises to liberate the individual woman by imposing more government regulation, when it is really about marketing shoddy goods. It won’t make anyone “freer”. The sad thing is that many people may think it will."


Spot on.
The elevation of illusion over the reality of human nature in the minds of men is the cornerstone of civilizational malaise.

It doesn't matter how pretty the lie is...

The higher the illusion, the lower the fall.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Sandra Flukes and Old Bolsheviks of the world never realize the tyranny they have created may (and probably will be) turned against them. Then again, they don’t care, because the sacrifice of their livelihoods and lives is small price to pain for Socialism.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
"...small price to pain for Socialism"

--if that's a typo, it's autowriting!
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Comfy western proggies are so jaded and bored with the uncontrollable pageant of human life that they just want to watch the world churn...Completely unaware that they're mixing up a giant batch of societal napalm...Over the dying embers of a Bolshi bonfire...While smoking a brimstone-laced joint...And huffing ether.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
They're completely aware. They just think they're so insulted that it will be "Suffering for thee, but not for me".
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yup, they may be quite aware that they are stoking the flames for 'the cause', but the little flukes and assorted useful idiots are impervious to the realization that they'll be among the first to go up in smoke.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
To be insulated from insult is exactly their goal.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
CharlesWhite: "The 1776 America is officially Dead!"

The 1776 America went down the tubes with the adoption of the 1787 Constitution, really--it was forced on the States (well, finagled past the state governments per se--a long story whose finaglers were Madison, Hamilton and a few others that had been pushing for a strong national government by hook and by crook).

That 1787 Constitution, were it to have meant anything other than producing something that could turn into an all-powerful national government, needed to have a two-thirds (or 50 percent plus 1, or something similar) states veto over any national government actions. W/o such, all the "checks and balances" were just window dressing. And surely, all pretense of a "federal" government of states went out the window with the 16th and 17th Amendments.

What we're suffering through today started burning over 200 years ago, and it's been building a full head of steam for 100 years. Now it is about to blow...

An Préachán
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
F. A. Hayek said this about Obama and his ilk.

"Power in the objectionable sense, is the capacity to direct the energy and resources of others to the service of values which those others do not share".
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obambus sets new records for hutzpah every day, demanding Congress pass an immigration bill and self-righteously claiming he will take action. WHAT does he expect to *be* in some bill? OBAMBUS is why these kids are invading, his failure to enforce existing laws, to seal the border, and that he self-righteously sides with any and all illegals against his own country he is sworn to defend. OMFG. This is full and sufficient grounds for impeachment. Just describe the charge and vote him out. No defense. Lock him up until the last immigrant goes home.

I do have one easy suggestion: tattoo every entering illegal immediately upon capture, bar code on the forhead would be a good start, and let them choose a design for one arm, and for $50 on two arms. Them maybe we should submit them in bid lots to the Saudis and maybe Boko Haram, and anyone not purchased should be sent to detention in Iraq.

I hear no Republican making useful or useless suggestions, they are hiding under their desks. We're all f'd.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Why hasn't anyone asked the Democrats how they justify encouraging and abetting what amounts to an invasion of our country? Do they believe an invasion of our country is acceptable? Do they actually condone this behavior and if not, what are they prepared to do to stop it? Put them on record and give it wide exposure.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Looks to me like someone may have engineered this wave to obscure a coordinated and perhaps massive terrorist infiltration.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
--long-planned too, see that job-offer recruitment item that Old Doug introduced here. FoxNews got hold of it too, and made quite a deal of it tho only for a day, pointing out that the number of ''escorts'' (that would be needed so far into the future) was inexplicable, insofar as the only number the govt would have had with which to have projected a number, would have to have been the historical number of minor children, which was ten on the way to twenty or more times (annualized) fewer than what --months later --developed suddenly around the D-Day anniversary, a number out-of-the-blue which (lord amighty what luck) exactly matched that long-ago inexplicable guess the feds had made.

So the theatrical upset of a pained Obama hating to but desperately needing to go around (the hatefully selfish members of) congress (because of the helpless children in crisis) is another truth (an authentic crisis) created (planned and executed, and sold) by the dude behind the bully pulpit.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
There have been a number of people saying the immigration policy is "confusing." It is only confusing when you ignore the laws and send orders to those who would enforce them to stand down. Yeah, that is pretty confusing Mr. President. What would be simple? Enforce the damn laws as written until you change them. Simple.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
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