Pause Before Ranting or Gloating

Some people believe that the United States is sliding toward American theocracy. Others claim that the country has been mortally infected by a godless secularism.

Some of the people who hold one or the other of those views have some well-thought out reasons for their positions. Many others, however, believe it because they have read someone else’s only-minimally-partially-accurate account of something or other.

I’ve been reading a lot of commentary in the news the last two days about the Supreme Court’s decision Monday morning in the Hobby Lobby case, which involved whether a Christian family-owned closely-held corporation could be compelled under the Affordable Care Act to provide coverage for certain forms of birth control that operate as abortifacients.

Sadly, much of the commentary on many popular on-line sites is being written by people who neither read the Supreme Court’s decision nor have any understanding of the legal issues involved in the case. Whether one likes the result or not, the reality is that the decision, which was decided on statutory and not on constitutional grounds, was fairly narrow in scope and is probably a correct decision as a matter of statutory interpretation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a 1993 statute that had broad bipartisan support and that was signed by President Clinton.

I don’t want to here get into an extended analysis of what is incorrect in the various reports I’ve read of the opinion. My primary point here is simply to suggest that before anyone either jumps up and down with joy over the opinion or wrings their hands in agony – they read the Court’s opinions and/or talk to someone who understands what the legal issues were and what the Court actually decided.