© 2016 by Charles D. Jones

Religious Freedom

July 27, 2016

Although Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp is an intellectual wasteland and literally sucks brain cells out of my head each day, l still try to keep up with current events. For example, on the final day of its 2016 term, the Supreme of Court of the United States refused to hear an appeal from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals of the Storman v. Wiesman case. They refuse to hear about 7000 appeals every year; so big deal, right? Well, it is kind of a big deal if you're a fan of the First Amendment.

 

The Stormans owned Ralph's Thriftway, a grocery and pharmacy in Olympia, Washington. They sued the state of Washington claiming the state had infringed on their religious freedom by requiring them to fill prescriptions for emergency contraceptives, which the Stormans claimed violated their religious convictions.

 

A federal district court agreed with the Stormans, stating the Washington law did violate the exercise of their First Amendment religious freedom. However, the 9th Circuit disagreed when the district court decision was appealed, siding with the state of Washington. When the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of the 9th Circuit's decision, it was a victory for governmental sponsored contraceptives and a defeat of the First Amendment. Liberals were giddy and conservatives were whining. 

 

The First Amendment is a two edged sword regarding religion for both liberals and conservatives. Liberals love the first part, "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion" but are not such fans of "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" part. Conservatives love the "exercise" part, but the "establishment" part, not so much.

 

So liberals rejoiced in the Storman case's victory for contraceptives at the expense of the exercise of religious freedom. But I remember, not that long ago, when liberals used to like the First Amendment. That was when the Supreme Court used the establishment clause to prohibit nativity scenes in courthouse lawns. Of course conservatives now love the exercise clause of the First Amendment, but they used to complain about it when they couldn't hold public prayers in taxpayer funded schools because of that nasty little establishment clause that it contains. 

 

I've always liked the First Amendment--all of it, along with the Fourteenth Amendment which applied it to the states. It's the first amendment for a reason--the exercise of religious freedom and the establishment clause are a BOTH A BIG DEAL. I wish folks would just decide if they like it or not and quit selectively liking it. It shouldn't be that complicated.

 

Get ready for more First Amendment cases, if for no other reason than the ever increasing governmental intrusion into our lives. The Storman case would have never occurred 20 years ago because the government wasn't in the prescription drug business.

Again for the lazy--The relevant part of the First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

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