Fred Clark yesterday, commenting on the Supreme Court's decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that corporations must be permitted to exercise conscience and assert religious belief, even when the sincerity of the religious beliefs the corporation asserts is not well-established, or the beliefs themselves do not stand up to evidence that contradicts them:
But the Supreme Court has now suggested that even such demonstrably insincere claims of sincerity must be treated as sincere. That encourages every huckster and opportunist who can find an angle to exploit religious exemptions for every penny. It creates a legal atmosphere that invites the religious equivalent of the Colbert Super Pac — Stephen Colbert’s giddily absurd, but perfectly legal, performance-art exploitation of post-Citizen’s United campaign-finance laws.
And that, ultimately, corrodes religious liberty. When legitimate religious exemptions are flooded with insincere claims whose legitimacy is never allowed to be legally considered, then those legitimate exemptions begin to seem less legitimate.
As Fred notes, prior to the Obamacare mandate that companies provide contraceptive coverage in their healthcare plans, Hobby Lobby had for years already been providing contraceptive coverage. When the Affordable Care Act mandated such coverage, Hobby Lobby suddenly discovered moral scruples about contraceptive coverage. This 180-degree turn (for patently political reasons) in and of itself calls into question the sincerity of the religious beliefs Hobby Lobby suddenly found after the Affordable Care Act began to be implemented.
In short, the Supremes have opened the floodgates to religious hucksterism — as long as those wanting to engage in such hucksterism happen to have enough money and clout. As long as they are corporations, which count as persons now, in the Supremes' mind, more than real persons do . . . .
The graphic: an illustration from anonymously published The World Turned Upside Down (York: J. Kendrew, ), which Project Gutenberg has placed online.