So Hobby Lobby can opt out of a tax law because it does not agree with its religious beliefs. Well if you thought corporations actually worshipped the almighty dollar, you’re only right in theory because on paper, the U.S. Supreme Court says their thirst for greed should not hinder them from exercising some religion. Even if it infringes on the rights of their employees, rights signed and delivered by Congress. In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, for profit corporations sought an injunction to prevent the federal government from penalizing them for not offering the morning after pill (Plan B) in its health insurance plans to employees. It argued and won for protection under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
The RFRA prohibits the federal government from “substantially burden[ing] a person’s exercise of religion” unless it is the least restrictive rule that furthers a compelling government interest. This statute, inspired for the protection of Native American rituals, has primarily applied to individuals and religious organizations. This made sense. Take the Boy Scout v. Dale case where the Court permitted the organization to refuse homosexuals from leadership positions because it violated its right to expressive association. Applying that decision to a private corporation would amount to discrimination against a substantially large group of people. That is exactly what the Hobby Lobby decision does. It permits corporations that are generally bound by federal laws, to adopt religious practices of its owners to avoid federal law.
Additionally, the Court’s decision allowed a commercial enterprise to infringe on the rights of their employees. As Justice Ginsburg provides in her dissenting opinion, a woman’s ability to participate equally in social and economic affairs has been “facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.” Accordingly, Congress, after consultation with public health experts, enacted legislation responsive to the needs of women. For the Court to permit a for profit corporation to limit their employees’ ability to choose among contraceptive methods afforded to them by Congress sets a precedent that Congress’ power to legislate for fair employment is limited by an owner’s religious beliefs.
Accordingly, the Hobby Lobby decision sets a bad precedent. The RFRA should be limited to protecting a person’s actual exercise of religion. Commercial enterprises and corporations practice the law of supply and demand, and maximizing profits. They do not worship a religion, and are prohibited from inserting any specific religious beliefs on its employees. For the Court to allow a corporation to use the religious beliefs of its owners to avoid adhering to rights afforded employees undermines Congress’ ability to legislate for the best interests of America’s workers.