Today the Supreme Court hears arguments in the Hobby Lobby cases which I discussed at length in my last blog post. We won’t have a decision for a while, but you can get clues from the justices’ lines of questioning. We should be listening to what Justice Scalia has to say. He wrote the majority opinion in the Smith case which led to Congress adopting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Here are a few excerpts from that decision:
“We have never held that an individual’s religious beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate.”
“ Conscientious scruples have not, in the course of the long struggle for religious toleration, relieved the individual from obedience to a general law not aimed at the promotion or restriction of religious beliefs.”
“ The mere possession of religious convictions which contradict the relevant concerns of a political society does not relieve the citizen from the discharge of political responsibilities.”
“ Our cases do not at their farthest reach support the proposition that a stance of conscientious opposition relieves an objector from any colliding duty fixed by a democratic government.”
If the Court gets beyond whether corporations are entitled to make free exercise claims it will be interesting to see whether Scalia still holds the same strict view of free exercise claims he held 24 years ago.