She Was for It Before She Was Against It

by Joseph Backholm / Family Policy Institute of Washington

Yesterday, in the United States Senate, Washincgton Sen. Patty Murray voted with fifty-five other Senators to roll back religious freedom.

Specifically, she voted for legislation that would force businesses like Hobby Lobby to pay for contraceptives that violate their sincerely held beliefs.

While Hobby Lobby pays for sixteen different forms of birth control in their coverage, Sen. Murray and others are frustrated that businesses have the freedom to make choices they disagree with.

In the Hobby Lobby decision, the Supreme Court said that the contraception mandate violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act because there are ways for the government to make the objectionable forms of birth control available without forcing people to violate their conscience.

If it’s really that important, the government could simply pay for it.

However, instead of proposing legislation to make the objectionable forms of birth control available to Hobby Lobby employees that might want them, Sen. Murray drafted legislation that would make it easier for her to force people to violate their beliefs.

Her website claims that the legislation would “restore the contraceptive coverage requirement guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act and protect coverage of other health services from employers who want to impose their beliefs on their employees by denying benefits.” (emphasis added).

Oddly, it appears that saying “no” to someone who asks you for something is imposing your beliefs on them.

However, forcing someone to do something they don’t want to do is not.

Her legislation would is intended to be a “legislative fix” to the Hobby Lobby decision and repeal significant protections in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).  Curiously, RFRA was itself a “legislative fix” to the Supreme Court’s 1990 decision in City of Boerne v. Flores.

In the time we’ve moved from “Hammer pants” to skinny jeans, Congress has moved from being alarmed when the Supreme Court takes away the people’s freedom to being alarmed when the Court limits the government’s ability to control the people.

Religious freedom wasn’t always seen as a problem on the left.

conspirator Bill Clinton signed it into law and later called it one of his greatest accomplishments as President.

Sen. Murray voted for it as well.

Her shift on this issue is symbolic of the left’s shift on individual liberty generally. Nothing about RFRA changed in the last twenty years.

What changed is the urgency with which the left feels the need to control people’s lives.

In 1993, the idea that employers can be forced to pay for their employees abortions would have been greeted with a universal raise of the eyebrow.

Now that Sen. Murray believes that forcing people to violate their conscience is not only permissible but desirable, she is being forced to undo the protections for individual liberty she once championed.

When it comes to religious freedom, at least she can say she was for it before she was against it.

If you want to share your thoughts with Senator Murray, you can contact her at (202) 224-2621 or click here to send her a message.

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