Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry?


Below are 9 statements about the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods cases, which were argued earlier this week in front of the Supreme Court.  Try to guess which statement(s) are from (a) Sandra Fluke in the Washington Post, (b) Solicitor General Verrilli’s briefing, or (c) Notre Dame Associate Professor of Political Science Patrick Deneen, writing on the day of the argument.  Ready?  Go.

1. “While the Greens are persons who exercise religion, there is a critical separation between the Greens and the corporation they have elected to create.”

2. “But while [Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood are] often characterized as ‘family-owned businesses,’ each is a national business with hundreds of employees and multi-state operations.”

3. “Hobby Lobby—like every chain store of its kind—participates in an economy that is no longer ‘religious’ or even ‘moral.’”

4. “If religious rights are extended to corporations, it puts us on a slippery slope where any private company could argue that religious beliefs prevent it from offering vital employee protections.”

5. “[The Religious Freedom Restoration Act] incorporates the longstanding and common-sense distinction between religious organizations, which sometimes have been accorded accommodations … in recognition of their accepted religious character, and for-profit corporations organized to do business in the commercial world.”

6. “Even as [Hobby Lobby] is a Christian-themed brand, it operates in a decisively ‘secular’ economic world.”

7. “[The Supreme Court] has never permitted a secular employer to obtain a religious accommodation that comes at the expense of employees.”

8. The case is not “about whether [the Hahns]have strongly held religious beliefs worthy of protection—they do.  It is instead about whether those beliefs override the determination by Congress concerning the benefits and burdens that accrue to employees of a for-profit corporation that operates in a stream of commerce.”

9. “But we should not deceive ourselves for a minute that what we are seeing is the contestation between a religious corporation and a secular State.”

It’s not easy.

Michael Fragoso used to live just down the road from “as profane imaginable a place on earth.” 

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Michael Fragoso writes from northern Virginia. He is a graduate of Notre Dame Law School where he was president of its pro-life student group, Jus Vitae. Prior to law school he worked in Washington, DC, on bioethics and pro-life issues.

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