Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Opening the Pandora's Box: What the Hobby Lobby Decision Might Achieve

A world in which things like gender discrimination are AOK for religious firms?  Here are some thoughts in that direction:
Companies that exist primarily for religious reasons might theoretically object to providing counseling programs for alcoholics, or insurance coverage for women if they object to women working outside the home, says Keith McMurdy, a partner in the New York City-based law firm Fox Rothschild.

Steven Friedman, an attorney in the New York City office of Littler Mendelson, foresees many religious-based challenges from private companies. “In a way, the sky is the limit because there are a lot of religious beliefs out there that don’t comport with the requirements of U.S. law.”

Perhaps none of this would happen.  But it's hard to guess how someone like Samuel Alito would rule on a case which pits, say, women's rights to fair treatment in the labor market against the religious rights of a firm which believes that women shouldn't be in the labor market at all.  Or any other kind of case where a religous firm's beliefs are in direct conflict with laws of this country.

I'm drawn here between two interpretations.  Either the five conservative men of the SCOTUS didn't think this through or they thought it through and this is what they wish to see.   Because they are not stupid men I veer towards the second interpretation. 

But given that "religion" doesn't mean just Christianity or Catholicism, the conservatives so happy about this ruling might regret it later when representatives of other religions start bringing cases to courts.  My impression is that American conservatives aren't terribly keen to have the principles of Sharia operate here.  Or Wiccan beliefs.

Let's hope that my concerns are exaggerated.  The hot and humid weather...