Non-legal thoughts on Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby

As a lawyer at least generally conversant with Constitutional law, I will grant that the matter of whether corporations should be afforded individual rights is a tricky one. Trickier than many of my friends on the left suggest. 

Also, as a lawyer, I will grant that if you accept that corporations possess such individual rights, religious rights kind of have to go along with them. The Bill of Rights is not a cafeteria from which you choose the ones worthy of protection and bypass the ones you don’t much care for.

In light of those two things I will grant, again, as a lawyer, that though I think the Supreme Court got the decision wrong today, both sides have merit given the current state of Constitutional law and that, legally speaking, it wasn’t the easy call either side claims it was.

As a human being, however, I will state that if your religious convictions are such that you believe basic contraception measures are abortifacients, you are objectively ignorant and that no matter how much respect I give your religious beliefs, they do not change scientific reality.

Also, as a human being, I will state that if your religious convictions are such that you believe contraception is itself sinful, I hope you enjoyed Roman Catholic mass last Sunday, because it’s basically the only Christian religion of size that holds such a belief, despite all of the people so vigorously defending that theological position today.

Finally, no matter what you believe, if you fail to acknowledge that practically speaking, today’s ruling makes it much harder and much more expensive for women to take care of their basic health care needs, and if, instead, you choose to focus on what hoops women should jump through in order to obtain these needs in a way that doesn’t offend your political sensibilities, you lack basic human empathy and are seriously deluded about the barriers ordinary people face to take care of their lives, their health and see to their economic security on a daily basis.

Enjoy today’s ruling if it went the way you wanted it to. But please do other human beings a favor and at least attempt to acknowledge that your ideological/theological victory means very little to the real people whose lives will be made considerably harder as a result of it.

Craig Calcaterra

Craig is the author of the daily baseball (and other things) newsletter, Cup of Coffee. He writes about other things at He lives in New Albany, Ohio with his wife, two kids, and many cats.

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