Hobby Lobby and the Rage of the Liberal Machine

Last week the Supreme Court voted 5-4 that the Obama administration and the Affordable Care Act could not force “closely held companies” to violate religious conviction by furnishing abortifacient contraception in insurance plans. The case was not just a minor legal quarrel over a detail in Obamacare but a serious defense of religious liberty applied in the public marketplace.

The Left has been declaring scorched earth since the decision, from Justice Ginsburg’s apocalyptic dissent to various expressions of unbridled outrage across the blogosphere. Such feral shrieking is disturbing enough, but Harry Reid recently upped the ante by promising to “do something” to ensure that abortion-inducing contraceptives are provided by all employers despite “the values of 5 white men.” We’ll assume the Senator misspoke and did not mean to imply that Clarence Thomas’s rejection of the Justice Department’s arguments amounts to a defection to Caucasia.

Such gaffes are understandable, considering that today’s liberals are not accustomed to losing in court. This year alone has been a banner year for the cause of same sex marriage; federal judges laid waste to six state laws defining marriage in 2014. The last year has seen an astonishing amount of socially conservative photographers, bakers and other businesspeople be forced to surrender either their convictions or their businesses. There can be no serious question which side of the political spectrum has been on the winning end of the judicial stick.

Why are liberals so upset that a privately held retail chain—one whose conscientious treatment of employees would make even the most zealous labor union misty-eyed—is allowed to continue to furnish high quality health insurance (including most contraceptives)? The answer is that the Obama administration’s crusade to enforce pro-choice values on citizens has zero to do with insurance, health, or even women. It’s about proving a point. Eric Holder could have saved his boss, Harry Reid and the Huffington Post much consternation by simply allowing Hobby Lobby to continue in its pro-employee policies. But for a political machine that is intent on gerrymandering the loyal opposition out of the public square, Hobby Lobby is an enemy, a successful and socially responsible enterprise owned by conservative Christians whose existence mocks the progressive narrative of evangelical theocracy.

One could reasonably challenge the Court and the Green family. As alarmist as her dissent is, Justice Ginsburg did ask a salient question about the future of the ACA and how the Hobby Lobby case might prove a difficult precedent. That’s a valid concern and conservatives should seek to speak to it as sincerely as they have spoken in defense of Hobby Lobby.

What puzzles and disturbs me is the naked rage in the Left’s reactions to the case. If Rip Van Winkle had awoken from a 200 year slumber last Monday and somehow mastered the internet during coffee, he would conclude that the nation was being railroaded by Republicans and Christian theocrats whose legal victories were mounting up as notches in the bedpost of Victorian sexual oppression. As I said above, that narrative is not only wrong, it can only be a lie. Even as the Green family celebrate the application of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in their favor, the Klein family, owners of the bakery that was sued for not baking a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, are without their business and labeled criminals by their state. Progressives are literally running conservatives and religious objectors out of their livelihoods.

How have liberals been so successful in punishing their opponents? A big answer is that they have warned the culture for years that Christians and Republicans were trying to do the same thing. In 2005 Harper’s ran a cover story entitled “The Christian Right’s War on America.” Stanley Kurtz flagged it and other examples of liberal besmirching, calling it “scary” and offering a chillingly prescient observation: “Traditional Christians are openly excoriated in the mainstream press as evil, fascist, segregationist bigots. Their political speech is placed under legislative threat.” Remember, this is was in 2005, nine years before the IRS’s political targeting would be exposed. A year later Kevin Philips won grand acclaim for his book “American Theocracy,” which compared the Moral Majority to the Taliban, eight years before Brendan Eich would be kicked out of Mozilla for one time support of traditional marriage.

When you understand all this, you can begin to get an idea of what would embolden a government department to consciously target politically conservative groups. No one can predict the outcome of the investigation into the IRS’s thuggery, but the current political culture is a huge benefit to those responsible for orchestrating it.

Like the old adage says about boiling a frog, you have to do it slowly. This context in which conservatives are punished by both culture and law does not come without years of carefully crafted rhetoric. That’s why Hobby Lobby’s paper-thin margin of victory is so grating to the ears of the Left; it stands out like a sore thumb among the cornucopia of progressivism-advancing marginalization that’s been happening. Article by article, book by book and then law by law, liberals have been creating a culture in which any non-progressive value is seen as an enemy of the state. The New Mexico Supreme Court dropped all pretense when it told a photography company that it had to provide services for a same-sex wedding, saying that it was “the price of citizenship.”

Citizenship is an important word there. It implies that those who hold socially-unpopular religious beliefs, and refuse to compromise them, belong somewhere else. Non-citizens don’t get a vote, are not represented and have no voice. That’s precisely where the Left wants Hobby Lobby and people like me. At least for a moment, that effort has been set back, much to the anger of the elite.

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