The day after handing down the Hobby Lobby decision on Monday, the court issued orders pertaining to six pending cases in which employers claimed religious objections to all contraceptive services required under the Affordable Care Act. The court either ordered appeals courts to reconsider their rejection of the employers' claims in light of the Hobby Lobby decision, or let stand lower courts' endorsement of those claims.Hiltzik touched on the question of a petitioner's sincerity of belief, asking, "... how do we limit the exemption only to those with religious scruples?" He noted that in a recent case, Judge Janice Rogers of the Washington, D.C., circuit appeals court declined to probe the sincerity of the petitioners' beliefs in ruling for them and against the contraceptives mandate of the PPACA. Yet the Hobby Lobby decision can only be seen as "fair" if the irresistible weapon of religious objection can be limited to those who are sincere in their beliefs.
Allowing exemptions to a federal law based on "unchallenged" and "unchallengeable" claims of subjective belief is the antithesis of secular law. That may be why religious exemptions have been handed out very carefully, until now.In short, the only way to keep Hobby Lobby from being the easy excuse to undo laws at will is for the courts to interrogate sincerity of belief.
Congratulations, right-wing Justices: you've turned the federal judiciary into the Great Pumpkin.