Last week, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that the male justices on the Supreme Court couldn’t truly understand the Hobby Lobby case because they aren’t women. That comment is insulting and condescending on its face. But if you apply a little common sense to it you can see just how bizarre this point of view actually is.
It is a basic principle of this country that we all have equal rights to life, liberty and property. The issues surrounding this mandate that employers cover all forms of contraception boil down to basic questions about our rights to liberty and property. What is it exactly that Ginsburg doesn’t think male justices can understand about the rights, liberty and property that we all share equally?
Ginsburg’s comment proves that she, like so many other Americans, has a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of our rights. Our rights are a sacred part of our humanity and we should never allow them to be violated by government or anyone else. When your rights are violated you are being treated as something less than human.
But just as you should never allow your rights to be violated, you never have the right to violate the rights of another person. As I explained this weekend on TheBlaze Radio’s Chris Salcedo Show, that is the ultimate problem with this new-found “right” to employer-provided birth control:
For the moment, let’s keep in mind that your boss is human. It’s true, I looked it up. All the other bosses in this country are too.
With that established, let’s imagine that you work at Hobby Lobby to illustrate what would happen if there actually was a “right” to employer-provided contraception. In that situation, you would have a right to force the owner of Hobby Lobby to buy you something against his will (a violation of his rights to liberty and property). Not only that, you would have a right to force him to engage in actions that he believes to be sinful (again a violation of his right to liberty).
In other words, the rights of the boss in this case would be subordinate, or less important, than yours. How does that square with the principle that all men are created equal and endowed with equal rights?
It doesn’t. In order to believe in a right to employer-provided birth control, you have to believe that all men are not created equal. There’s no other way to justify your having a right to force your boss to do something on your behalf.
Now let’s contrast that with the effect of the Supreme Court ruling that the owners at Hobby Lobby can’t be forced to provide their employees contraception. If you are a woman working at Hobby Lobby you have a couple of options. You can choose to continue working there and make well over minimum wage, have every Sunday off to spend with your family, and choose to use one of the 16 different forms of contraception that Hobby Lobby covers as part of it’s benefits package. You could even choose to continue working there and just buy your own contraception. But if you don’t like either of those options, you can also choose to find a job working for an employer who offers a benefits package that you believe is more appropriate.
The key there is that none of those options violate your right to life, liberty or property in any way. This situation offers you the freedom to choose how you want to live your life and gives the owners at Hobby Lobby the opportunity choose how they want to live theirs.
The case had nothing to do with male vs. female. It has everything to do with free choice vs. force. There were five justices on the court who felt that you should be able to choose how to live your life. Ruth Bader Ginsburg believes that you should be forced to live according to her values.
Justice Ginsburg would probably argue that she’s fighting for equality here. But her approach to this issue doesn’t lead to equality. It leads to the warped idea that you have a right to force someone else to do something against their will. If equality is what she’s truly interested in, then she needs to recognize that we all have equal rights and enforce them equally. That’s the only equality that government can provide.
Chad Kent is an author and speaker with a unique style that makes the Constitution simple and fun. For an incredible discussion of our individual rights, pick up a copy of his book, "Uncomplicating the Constitution." You can also listen to Chad every Saturday during The Chris Salcedo Show on TheBlaze Radio.
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