The James Wilson Foundation on Natural Rights and the American Founding

“Razing Arizona” —Prof. Hadley Arkes in The Catholic Thing

Writing in The Catholic Thing, Prof. Hadley Arkes discusses Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s veto of a bill that would extend religious liberty protections to businesses that take the form of corporations.

Some excerpts:

“Anyone who read the bill with an awareness of the issues agitating our politics of late would recognize at once what was moving the drafters. There was an evident concern for those cases on religious freedom involving the mandates of Obamacare on abortion and contraception. Those cases have been litigated under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), an Act that directs the government to frame its measures more narrowly and cite a ‘compelling interest’ before it would restrict conduct guided by religious teaching. Arizona already had its own version of RFRA.  The legislature was evidently filling in the law to support the arguments that have been made in the courts in defense of the religious:  namely, by making it clear that a business will not be detached from a religious character because it takes the form of a corporation.”

“At the same time, there was apparently a concern for people who had been penalized for engaging in discriminations based on ‘sexual orientation,’ because they had refused to take photos or bake cakes for same-sex weddings. The bill in Arizona sought to put a heavier burden on any action by the government that could force people to violate their religious convictions, whether that enforcement springs from statutes or regulations, or from suits brought by private parties.”

“The point has been made often in response to the criticism of the bill that businessmen in Arizona are already free to refuse to deal with gays and lesbians, for there are is no statute in Arizona that bars discrimination based on ‘sexual orientation.’  But of course that is not what inspired the bill, and there has been no sighting of any businessmen eager to shun the business of gays and lesbians, even if they could know who they were when they walked through the door. And yet, it was clear that the bill was inspired in part by the experience of people who were being punished for their refusal to treat same-sex weddings as real weddings. By implication the bill was anticipating a situation in which a local ordinance could indeed bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and the religious would be assured a certain protection.”

Read the whole piece here

Tags: , , , , ,

Law and liberty cannot rationally become the objects of our love, unless they first become the objects of our knowledge.
— James Wilson, Lectures on Law, 1790