Supreme Court justices will gather to discuss health law cases to decide if businesses can be exempt from provisions requiring companies to provide coverage for birth control, if contraceptives violate a business owner’s religious beliefs. The companies that are involved in the cases already provide health insurance benefits to their workers, but feel that forcing them to cover certain methods of birth control is a violation of their religious liberties.
The Obama administration has expressed concern with an exemption for companies on religious grounds, stating that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of these companies, it could lead to objections about parts of the health law concerning Social Security taxes, minimum wages, and immunizations. In the past, the Supreme Court has never ruled that the religious liberties of individuals can be applied to business entities, although those who support an exemption cite a 1993 federal law as being the basis for their belief that these freedoms do indeed apply to businesses.
The current health law the justices are to discuss states that health plans being offered through companies must provide coverage for a wide range of birth control options for women, as long as these options are FDA approved. The problem that many business owners have with this provision in the health law is that some contraceptives work after a woman’s egg has been fertilized, which to many who are religious, amounts to abortion. Many religious faiths believe life begins at conception, making abortion after the fertilization of an egg tantamount to murder. Being forced to provide these options makes individuals feel they are being forced to play a role in an immoral act.
The question that needs to be asked is whether or not the federal government has any constitutional authority to tell businesses how to run their operation. Many Progressives will cite the interstate commerce clause as justification for government interference into the private sector, but this does not provide the government with the go-ahead to regulate any and all aspects of how a business is to be operated. The whole point of the interstate commerce clause was to eliminate trade barriers among the states, not be a catch-all for government interference and regulation.
The Constitution, contrary to popular belief, is not a “living” document, with interpretations that must be changed or altered to reflect current times. What the Constitution meant back when it was written is what it means today. To say otherwise is the same as saying that when a parent writes out a list of house rules when a child is 5 years old, the list will not have the same meaning when the child is 10 years old. If a parent tells the child to keep their room clean at a young age, that same rule will apply to an older child and will not some how magically change interpretation to mean that the child only has to keep it clean two days out of the week. Unless of course an entirely new set of rules is created.
Since the Constitution clearly says what it means and means what it says, the government has no authority to force businesses to provide birth control coverage for its employees. In truth, the government has no authority to be involved in the healthcare industry at all, making the violation of religious liberties a moot point. What the Supreme Court decides on these health law cases involving birth control coverage will determine how much of a free market economy the country has left.
Opinion by Michael Cantrell