The James Wilson Foundation on Natural Rights and the American Founding

“Hobby Lobby: Joy – and Disappointment” —Prof. Hadley Arkes in The Catholic Thing

Writing in The Catholic Thing, Prof. Hadley Arkes scrutinizes the grounds on which the cases of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood were decided.

Some excerpts:

“As Justice Alito aptly points out, corporations are ensembles of persons, made for the purposes, including the moral purposes, of persons.  That was a point at long last worth making in the annals of the Court. Yes, there were many things to be celebrated on Monday at the Court.  But some of us could not be exactly cheered by the terms of principle on which these benign results were delivered. The decision rested on RFRA and the special protections offered to “religion,” and yet the Court cannot explain what constitutes a ‘religion.'”

“In the style of old, ‘religion’ was reduced simply to claims of ‘belief’ held ‘sincerely.’  The Greens professed to ‘believe’ that human life begins at conception.  That is an anchoring proposition in the textbooks on embryology, but it was reduced here to a mere ‘belief’ – as indeed religion itself was reduced to mere ‘belief,’ without a ground of reason. ” 

“The Court explained that contraceptives could be provided by the government without impairing the religious freedom of the Greens. But it left unchallenged the deep fallacy – and moral leap – in Justice Ginsburg’s opinion. For Ginsburg, the ‘right to contraception’ did not mean merely the right to purchase contraception without an undue interference of the law.  Nor did it mean merely the right to receive contraception and abortion funded by the government.  It was nothing less than a right to have what she regarded as a public obligation borne by a private person at his own expense – even when it made him an accomplice in what he regarded as an evil.”

Read the whole piece here

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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