Friday, July 11, 2014

Case Studies on the Sphere

The Supreme Court decisions have kept me thinking. We could avoid the knife-edge possibility of catastrophe for our civil society by following the principles of freedom, prosperity, and civilization. So I thought I’d take a look at the collection of cases related to religious freedom and the Obamacare mandate. We’ll start with a quick review of the principles required for being north on the Spherical Model, mainly in relation to federal government. 
Supreme Court
2013 photo from NPR

Political Sphere:  Following the principles leads to freedom—the northern hemisphere.
·         Is the policy being debated something that an individual has the God-given right to do, and therefore has the right to delegate to government?
·         Does the policy infringe in any way on the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights?
·         Is the policy a proper role of government; i.e., some aspect of protection (including defense, protection from interstate crime, enabling international and interstate commerce, standardized weights and measures and currency, the judiciary that guarantees the protective laws) as enumerated in the Constitution? 

Economic Sphere: Following the principles leads to prosperity—the northern hemisphere.
·        Separate God-given rights from privileges, or wants.
o   God grants rights to all individuals, regardless of government. Government doesn’t grant rights.
o   We are all born naked, impoverished, and inexperienced—conditions we overcome by growth, hard work, and gaining in expertise.
o   We are born with the right to life, the right to live free (not enslaved), and the right to pursue our own path to overcome the naked impoverished state.
·        The person who earns the money gets to decide how to spend it.
·        There will be those who are unable to care for themselves to overcome their naked impoverished state; philanthropy must fill this need, not government.
Social Sphere: Following the principles leads to civilization—the northern hemisphere.
·        Every civilized society is a religious society.
o   This absolutely does not mean state-sponsored religion or lack of religious freedom, but the opposite.
o   Freedom of religion is essential, and the flourishing of religion must be encouraged.
o   The required religious beliefs include the essence of the Ten Commandments:
§  Honor God, who has granted us our lives and our rights.
§  Honor parents (honor family).
§  Do not murder (value life).
§  Do not have sex outside of marriage (preserve family integrity).
§  Do not steal (value property rights).
§  Do not lie.
§  Do not covet (i.e., want what belongs to someone else, which is a precursor to theft).
§  When wrong is done, a wrongdoer must confess and make restitution in order to restore his place in civilization.
·        Family is the basic unit of civilized society.
o   Family perpetuates life and passes on the principles of civilization, freedom, and prosperity.
o   Family integrity must be protected by society, including laws.
o   Marriage is an essential societal good.
§  Sex outside of marriage is always wrong.
§  Exceptions must be rare and repented/repaired. 

That’s a lot to hold in your mind all at once. But you can see that the three spheres interrelate. If a policy violates freedom, it will lead toward loss of prosperity and decay of civilization toward savagery. When a person claims to be an economic conservative but not a social conservative, they are revealing their ignorance of how those social principles are essential for economic prosperity and freedom. 

So, now, let’s relate these to the recent and upcoming SCOTUS rulings.  

The Hobby Lobby/Conestoga Woods decision came down the last of June. The Court ruled that RFRA applied (Religious Freedom Restoration Act). This was important. RFRA says that, if government is to breach the religious freedom of someone, it must have a compelling reason (something related to protection of life, liberty, and property of Americans that could be affected), and also must show that they have taken the least invasive approach. 

The Court didn’t deal with whether the government had a compelling reason, because it was disqualified by failing on the “least invasive” approach. The government had already given exemptions and accommodations to millions, for both political and religious reasons. So why not for these organizations? 

That was the sum total of the ruling. It didn’t decide the “accommodations” being considered in dozens of other lawsuits were appropriate; it only ruled that, since there are other options, burdening religious people was not acceptable. 

Over the weekend, July 5th, you may have heard the additional kerfuffle coming from the Court. The majority ruled to offer a stay to Wheaton College, a religious affiliated organization that has refused to accept the “accommodation.” The three female members of the Court, all liberals, railed against the majority—with vitriol, calling them liars. The phrase “weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth” [Matthew 13:42] should come to mind. While members of the Court consistently disagree, this failure of congeniality is remarkable. 

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has tried to fast-track legislation to undo the recently sustained RFRA law. He says, because “five white men” shouldn’t have the power to deprive women of their health care. Now, that’s a little insane in a number of ways. First, he just called Justice Clarence Thomas white. Second, the ruling deprived exactly zero women of health care. It simply allowed Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Woods, and related plaintiffs to be able to refuse paying for the 4 forms of birth control they consider as taking human life—abortifacients. The Court acknowledged that government could find other ways to provide those things. Even without government, all of those things are available, at relatively low cost, to consumers without any need for insurance or payment, mostly over-the-counter without even a doctor’s prescription.  

So why the emotionalism? Because they realized they lost what the whole Obamacare business is about—the power of government to impose its rule over the will of the people. 

Hugh Hewitt had a couple of good interviews this week with Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys, who have been involved in many of these cases. In Wednesday’s interview with Alan Sears, Hewitt asked about the over-the-top response. And Sears answered: 

They realized they had lost. This is about forcing other people to deny their conscience. Our conscience, a well-formed conscience doesn’t have an option or a choice on how it responds to these kind of decisions. People of faith, of conscience, cannot comply. You mentioned Bonhoeffer. There was a line which he could not cross. Time and again we’ve seen, through cultures, and time and place, where people of faith could not cross certain lines. In this case it’s, once again, it’s being asked to take just a little dip of incense, drop it in the lamp to tell Caesar that he is lord. And I think that’s what really led the dissent here. It’s that they did not have five votes to deny people their conscience. 

There was an additional part of the discussion about the miraculous David v. Goliath win, similar to what I wrote about Monday.

Hugh Hewitt: …the size of the ACLU, the size of these other groups… 

Alan Sears: The size of the Obama justice department. I mean, one of the things that’s just absolutely amazing to me, because of the, quite frankly, the prayers, the faith, the support and the financial support. We have gone, as we talked about earlier, just on the HHS mandate for a group of, more than this many plaintiffs, but gathered into 19 different lawsuits, we’re 19 and zip. 19 to 0 against the Eric Holder Department of Justice, against the White House, against the Department of Health and Human Services. These are gigantic operations. DOJ is the largest law firm in the world. 

That’s something to notice: a score of 19 to zero. We have to be vigilant against Goliaths the size of this DOJ and White House combination. Still, it’s heartening to know how many times, so far, right has prevailed. 

In an earlier Hugh Hewitt interview with ADF attorney David Cortman, Cortman details the Wheaton issue, about the refusal to accept the “accommodation.” 

[T]he form that the government has you sign is a specific legal form that amends your contract with the insurance company. So while they’re saying, “Oh, yeah, we’re keeping you out of this; all you’re doing is telling us that you have a religious objection,” what they’re doing is saying, “Give me your authority, company or family, give me your sole authority, and sign it over to this other person so that we can actually include these items in your plan without you.” So that’s the problem with this accommodation. It’s not taking you out of the picture. It’s taking your authority and granting it to someone else, which makes you complicit in the abortion evil that you believed in the first place. 

David Cortman later asks a pertinent question:  

First of all, why did the government even pick this fight? You know you’re forcing people who have these well-known objections who’ve carried them forever, forcing people to fund abortion-inducing drugs. I mean, that’s incredible for a government to be able to do, and then turn around and say no, no, everything’s fine, just look the other way.

It is incredible. Why would the government refuse to offer an exemption to any but actual churches (which they had to be pressed to do)? And why would they then offer “accommodations” only to religious non-profits with objections—while the “accommodation” is still causing the non-profits to consent to something against their conscience? And why did they refuse any kind of a way out for religious for-profit business owners?  

They’re wrong on every count, according to the Court. But why wasn’t it self-evident to this administration? Because they do not sustain liberty; they seek tyranny. That is what Obama meant by transforming America. 

Let’s briefly go through the exercise of measuring the policies against the Spherical Model. 

·        We do not have the natural right to force our neighbor to pay for something we don’t have. That would be theft. We therefore can’t grant that power to our government. So, we cannot grant government the power to force anyone to pay for someone else’s contraceptives or abortifacients.
·        We are born with the right to freedom of religion. It is the first right enumerated in the Bill of Rights. Refusing to allow a person to live according to his own conscience is to enslave that person even more than physically imprisoning him would do. It’s an attempt to enslave his heart and mind.
·        At some point the government will have to “prove” that providing free contraceptives and abortifacients is a compelling interest; it has not yet done so. Whatever the Court eventually rules, forcing people to buy a product, let alone forcing them to buy someone else’s product, is never going to be a proper role of government.
·        Any attempt to control how people spend their money will lead to less prosperity, never to greater prosperity.
·        Claiming that providing contraceptives and abortifacients is equivalent to protecting life and liberty is diametrically opposed to civilization.
o   The government is claiming that sex outside of marriage—and sex without consequences within or without marriage—is a human right and public good. They want a savage world.
o   The government is claiming that its interest in providing sex without consequences is greater than anyone’s religious belief. They want a savage world. 

David Cortman offers a summary of the situation: 

This law in and of itself is an unjust law. Anytime that you force people to violate their religious belief, this law is bad for everybody….This is a great win for religious freedom, but people need to understand anytime the government forces any group of people to violate their beliefs, you could be next. 

Indeed. It’s getting harder to find a civilized, thinking citizen whose beliefs haven’t been violated by this administration. We need vigilance and courage. I honor Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Woods, Wheaton College, Tyndale Publishing, Little Sisters of the Poor, Alliance Defending Freedom and the many other organizations and their supporters who have stood up to the federal government Goliath this year.

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