In a new post at the College Conservative, David Giffin offers some thoughts on the Hobby Lobby decision.

Hobby Lobby: A Question of Faith and Profits

The Supreme Court has handed down a victory for religious liberty activists yesterday, with a 5-4 ruling in the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. The case, however, does more than merely affirm the protections of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Hobby Lobby undermines one of the core tenants of modern liberals’ view of religion: it is possible for religious people to practice their faith while simultaneously pursuing financial gain.

In order to understand why this issue matters, it is important to understand the background of the case. Formerly known as Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, prior to Kathleen Sebelius’s resignation from the Department of Health and Human Services, the case arose from the contraception mandates issued by the Department of Health and Human Services as a part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The mandate requires that all employers provide contraception coverage as a part of their insurance policies, and failing to do so comes with steep fines for every employee that goes uncovered. Very narrow exceptions for religious and nonprofit employers were permitted, but the prerequisites for meeting the exceptions were so stringent that, as one Catholic cardinal put it, that Jesus himself could not qualify.

As the controversy surrounding the mandates began to boil over, dozens of companies around the United States filed motions for injunctions preventing the government from enforcing the mandates. Three of these companies captured the attention of the high court. Conestoga Wood Specialties, a cabinet-making company from Pennsylvania, was owned by the Hahns, a Mennonite family. Hobby Lobbby, the arts and crafts store chain, and Mardel, a chain of Christian bookstores, were owned by the evangelical Green family. Both these families were stuck in the same interesting set of circumstances: both families believed they had a duty to provide for their employees by offering health insurance, but both families also both held the religious belief that life begins with the fertilization of an egg by a sperm.