Who’s the Real Hobby Lobby Bully?

Megan McArdle,  Bloomberg View

Here’s the most interesting thing to me about the long, loud debate over the recent Hobby Lobby decision: Both sides believe that they are having someone else’s views forcibly imposed upon them.

Usually in political disputes, it’s broadly understood which side is being forced and which side is doing the forcing. We may argue about how much people should pay in taxes or how harsh incarceration policies should be, but both sides can generally agree on who is being coerced and who is doing the coercing. Here we have a case in which folks on both sides genuinely believe that they are the ones being imposed upon. How is it possible that we disagree on something so fundamental and obvious?

Cards on the table: I think that institutions Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor are obviously correct — they are being forced by the government to buy something that they don’t want to buy. We can argue about whether this is a good or a bad idea, but the fact that it is coercive seems indisputable. If it weren’t for state power, the Little Sisters of the Poor would be happily not facilitating the birth-control purchases of its employees; the Barack Obama administration has attempted to force them to do otherwise. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that this coercion violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and it must therefore cease.

All this is old ground. The interesting question is why people on the other side view ceasing the coercion as itself coercive while arguing that the original law did not, in fact, force anyone to violate their religious beliefs.

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