Lariat Letter: Hobby Lobby rights should not supercede Obamacare

By Elijah Maletz

As much as I agree with the spirit of Danny Huizinga’s Nov. 19 column titled “Employer religious freedom at risk with Obamacare laws,” his argument is difficult to swallow.

“Since when are business owners not allowed to make the decisions for their company?’” Huizinga rhetorically asks. The answer is that business owners have never had free reign over their companies.

Business rights are regulated with the same stringency that individual rights are regulated, i.e. that the exercising of their rights not impinge other rights or create overwhelming externalities.

Whether one is in agreement with the morality (or practicality) of the Affordable Care Act or not, the precedent for its constitutionality has been set in Employment Division v. Smith.

As per the Supreme Court’s ruling, the government can pass legislation that inhibits the practice of religion provided that it has a reasonable basis and is not specifically aimed at religion.

Unless an extremely loose definition of “religion” is used, the Affordable Care Act is not based on or aimed at religious beliefs.

While it is deeply unfortunate that Hobby Lobby, certainly a great family-owned company, is the victim of this act, there is no argument that the act should be struck down on this sort of free exercise basis.

The precedent, if such an argument were to prevail, would actually be more dangerous for the rule of law and religious freedom in our country than if the act were to stand.

Elijah Maletz
Hood River, Ore., senior