If the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is considered to be one of the most Liberal in the nation, then the Tenth tends to be seen as one of the more Conservative. Yesterday, an eight-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the government cannot require a company with a religious core to provide birth control for their employees if the company’s owners object to it.
However, the case Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius is likely to end up in the lap of the US Supreme Court who may be loathe to overturn United States v. Lee which prevents companies from imposing “the employer’s religious faith on the employees.” In fact, by not covering birth control, one could argue that Hobby Lobby is in violation of the Lee ruling.
The Court rules in Lee that “[w]hen followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity.”
The Tenth ignored this part of the ruling in order to rule in favor of Hobby Lobby even though they relied upon the Lee ruling for many aspects of their opinion, and could open a Pandora’s box of legal issues if bosses cite religious justifications for ignoring their employees religious rights.
The ruling would allow any for profit corporation to assert a religious objection to a law and even open the door to “a large publicly traded corporation tr[ying] to assert religious rights.” The way the ruling is worded, it would even allow religious employers to, potentially, successfully object to laws ensuring gender, racial and LGBT equality.
The ruling could end up rendering all non-discrimination and religious harassment laws null and void by allowing employers to act however they want.
Back under the Reagan Administration, Jim Baker argued that there was no need for environmental regulation because the Rapture was coming and it didn’t matter if the world was ground into a polluted ball of muck because no one was going to be alive to care in twenty years. Such a rationale could be use to ignore environmental and safety regulations as well.