I was hoping one of those might strike a cord, but consider if the Federal government stated you had to directly fund the murder of children up to say 5 years of age. Since many religious people believe that the life of a child begins at conception, that's what people like the founders of Hobby Lobby believe they are being told to do: directly fund the murder of children, not with the collection of taxes that go to a general fund, but rather by paying the private business that pays the private business that murders children. I would assume you would have significant objections to being forced to pay someone to murder children, but would you do it anyway simply to comply with the law? Or would you seek to be excluded from that requirement?
If I consider cockroaches holy I still don't have the right to forbid or obstruct a fumigator from doing his job.
No you don't, but I think you have to admit that a fetus/unborn child/baby/whatever-you-want-to-call-that-thing is significantly different from a cockroach, assuming you consider human life to be more important than insect lives. If you don't, that's fine, but I don't think we can have a good discussion. Assuming that you do, I actually still agree that no one has the legal right (though I would consider moral right a tougher call) to prevent someone from having a legal abortion or to prevent a doctor who performs abortions from doing his job. However, that isn't what's being discussed here. What we're talking about is the founders of Hobby Lobby, whose religious beliefs consider abortion to be murder, being forced by their government to directly fund that practice. In essence, from the perspective of their religion, they're being forced to directly fund the murder of children. Regardless of what you or I or any of the justices of the Supreme Court believe, it's what the founders of Hobby Lobby believe and they would almost certainly have to conclude that compliance with that law would damn their immortal souls to Hell for all eternity. I think that makes it rather difficult to defend for a nation that purports to respect religious beliefs.
There are many actions I disagree with committed in my name (and with my tax money) by the federal, state and local governments in whose jurisdiction I happen to reside. The fact I don't like how my resources are being utilized does not give me the right to refuse to pay taxes, permission to disrupt law enforcement activities or anything similar.
Your tax dollars go into a general fund. From that fund, activities you disapprove of are funded. Yet that's a far cry from them forcing you to pay for those activities directly. For instance, if you believe that all wars are evil and that fighting them and killing in them is murder (the truly convicted total pacifist), you may not like that the US government buys bombs and missiles with monies collected through taxes, but they aren't telling you that you have to write a check to Lockheed for an order of 5,000lb JDAMs so they can be dropped on someone's house. In other words, there's at least some difference between being forced to pay into a fund of fungible funds which is sometimes used for things you dislike and being forced to cut a check to pay for something that directly contradicts your firmly held beliefs.
In both cases there is a law in place. In my case I have to comply or face the consequences. In HL's case, they apparently do not have to comply with some of the law because they don't like it?
There are plenty of cases where you don't have to comply with the law. For instance, it's against the law to kill another human being. However, if that human being is trying to seriously harm you and you have no other choice to avoid that serious harm, you're exempted from the consequences of violating that law due to the circumstances. Intent is a huge component of criminal law. In many cases, a lack of intent can be a defense against criminal charges. In many of those cases where exemptions are carved out for circumstances, the beliefs of the individual and the reasonableness of those beliefs are a key factor. In this case, the founders of Hobby Lobby have beliefs that compliance with this law would constitute violation of core religious doctrine. In other words, they believed that directly funding these particular forms of birth control would damn them to Hell for financing the murder of children. Further, the other 16 methods of birth control were apparently not an issue for them, meaning they were seeking to follow the law right up to the point where it would result in eternal damnation. That's a far cry from simply declaring that one isn't going to follow the law because one dislikes it. This is a very specific, narrowly tailored exemption carved out for a relatively small group of individuals based upon an apparently reasonable religious belief.
While I understand that HL was able to summon the money and political clout to push the issue clear through the Supreme Court for an exception, I remain unconvinced that what occurred here was just/right even though it's clearly legal.
I think that what they were seeking was completely reasonable. Out of 20 birth control methods looked at, they found four methods with specific characteristics which heavily conflicted with their firmly held religious beliefs. They didn't seek exemption from the entire law or the womens' health aspects of the law or even the birth control aspects of the law. Rather, they were seeking to not have to directly fund a very small number of specific things that they believed constitute murder. Worse, that they believed constitute the murder of defenseless babies. I think if you ask 1000 people whether the Federal government can legally force someone to fund the murder of young children, at least 995 of them would say no. At that point, all that's left is to ask whether it's reasonable - based on their religious beliefs - for the Hobby Lobby founders to believe that's what's required of them if they have to fund those few specific methods.
SCOTUS found that it was reasonable for them to believe that and that as such, they had grounds to object. Further, the SCOTUS found that because there were so many alternatives for those affected by that coverage gap, the actual impact of such an exemption would be pretty limited. With those two things in mind, it became rather simple to decide that forcing a person to directly fund what they believe is the murder of small children, when not forcing them to do so has little impact on any else's rights or interests, just doesn't make sense. Thus, carving out a religiously based exemption was the best result. I think that's a perfectly sensible way for the SCOTUS to act.
OT: Thank you for your considered statements, reasonable tone and for not trying to turn this into a flame war.
Certainly, as I said, I'm definitely not emotionally invested in this case beyond looking for consistency and reasonableness. I really don't think this case would make any headlines if it weren't tied to the President and the ACA. I don't particularly like the legislation, but that's because I think it was poorly constructed and will bring loads of unintended consequences without actually making a significant enough impact in fixing problems like healthcare costs. Religious issues like what we're seeing in this case are just the beginning. This thing is going to slowly churn new exemptions (mostly administrative) and other changes constantly over the next decade until it's every bit as complicated as the current tax code. I think the law should be simple enough that one person can completely understand it and comply with it at all times. Our own government can't even tell us how many (just the number) of laws there are at the Federal level (seriously, the Library of Congress did a whole blog posting about this subject), let alone explain what all those laws are and how one would comply with them. That doesn't even touch all the laws in every state, county, city, township, etc. All that does is breed disrespect for the law and for the government making those laws.