Consider, for a moment, how we arrived at the current state of the Hobby Lobby controversy: Ages ago, members of Congress, including a large majority of Democrats, came to believe that the justices of the Supreme Court, notably Justice Antonin Scalia, were taking too narrow a view of the religious liberties secured by the First Amendment. So Congress passed, with overwhelming bipartisan support and the signature of President Bill Clinton, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which requires that when the federal government significantly burdens the exercise of religious liberties, it must do so in the least intrusive fashion.
Along comes the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a massive transfer of power to the unelected bureaucracies, which empowered the Obama administration to issue regulations that burdened a religious liberty — the right to decline to involve oneself in the distribution of certain kinds of contraceptives and potential abortifacients — and did so in the most restrictive way possible, i.e. through a practically universal federal mandate. And along come the justices of the Supreme Court, including Antonin Scalia, a man gifted with the ability to read, with a ruling confirming precisely the broad protections of religious liberty demanded by Congress in the RFRA. Cue dark whisperings about popery on the Supreme Court from Democrats, who seem to believe that the role of the Court is to give them political victories rather than to apply the law to disputes.
This leaves Democrats in a political pickle. They passed a law to protect religious freedom, but they do not desire to protect religious freedom when doing so interrupts their risible war-on-women soap opera. And so Senate Democrats, led by Colorado’s Mark Udall and Washington’s Patty Murray, are preparing for a session of legislative yoga, the outcome of which would be to preserve the appearance of preserving religious liberties under RFRA while gutting legal protections when they protect those liberties from Democratic constituencies. Thus the people who like to say “You can’t legislate morality” intend to make their own moral inclinations mandatory.
The prevailing view in Democratic circles is that Americans enjoy constitutional and legal rights when acting alone but not when acting jointly — i.e., not when it matters most to public affairs. … (T)he theory is that while individuals enjoy free-speech rights, associations do not — except for Democrat-friendly associations such as labor unions and the New York Times. Ordinary citizens acting together and pooling their resources to engage in political discourse are to be denied free-speech protection.
The Democratic theory of rights is extraordinarily convenient in that it would concentrate power in institutions such as the media, the unions, and the government bureaucracies — institutions that are controlled by and friendly to Democrats and their interests. But if ordinary people wish to form an organization to work for, say, reform of the criminally abusive agency that enforces our tax code, they will have to ask Democrats’ permission first, and any discourse in which they engage will have to be conducted according to the Democrats’ rules.
Citizens United is not a campaign for public office — it is an advocacy group, like the NAACP or NOW. It is simply one with views that Democrats do not wish to see tolerated in the public square, and tactics that Democrats find disagreeable.
As the editors say in the lede, “libs support the freedom to agree with them.”