The Denver Little Sisters stand in no short-run peril, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor having enjoined the government temporarily from making them sign up or pay an annual fine -- $2.5 million -- representing a third of their budget. The Supreme Court will eventually hand down its consensus view as to their rights under the First Amendment to freedom of worship and the free exercise of religion.
The matter would once upon a time have seemed cut and dry. (SET ITAL) Of course (END ITAL), the religious exemption trumped one-size-fits-all political calculations! A pre-liberated age would have seen the whole question as intrusive on constitutionally protected reasoning, as well as inappropriate to sound public policy.
That was before the federal government took over, as numerous Americans saw it, primary responsibility for maximizing American health and prosperity. The religious freedom provisions of the First Amendment became less a protection for the most important convictions of life than a barrier to achievement of secular goals -- "reproductive choice" very much near the top of that list.
In the Little Sisters case, and the others working their way up to the Supreme Court, genuinely free choice obtains only for those interested in electing for birth control. That's what they want? Well, that takes care of it. Our elected officials have established a regime under which most employers must make birth control free. What more needs saying?
Meanwhile, the country moves toward a kind of orthodoxy on "marriage equality," with federal judges overruling, in Utah and Oklahoma, the traditional heterosexual understanding of marriage in order to accommodate those who, shall we say, want something different. A New Mexico photographer was recently sanctioned when she declined to photograph a gay wedding. Similar things are happening to bakers who reserve their wedding cake services for male-female couples.
Repeat after us, boys and girls: "The right to choose means the right to choose rightly." In accordance with who's got the political power. No doubt, these days, of whom that is!
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