LI-07-Hobby-LobbyIn September 2012, the privately held retail store Hobby Lobby filed a lawsuit against the US federal government regarding new regulations in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requiring that employer insurance cover emergency contraceptives. They argue that they have a First Amendment right not to follow such a regulation.

While this is indeed case with respect to the US Constitution, the libertarian case against such mandates covers more fundamental ground than just religious expression. It is also more comprehensive because it addresses the core of the issue: government intervention in business and in personal lives.

You can read article after article about the whole issue, and I do not want to rehash everything because it would be a waste of your time. Still, what can a Christian libertarian say about this issue? To break through the confusion and state the case quickly and succinctly, this is the plumbline libertarian position on Hobby Lobby and these health care mandates:

  1. All interventionism in health care by the state is bad.* The ACA, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. should all be repealed and shut down permanently.
  2. All interventionism in business by the state is bad.* The government’s job, if it ought to have a job at all, is not “consumer protection” or “ensuring fair play” but rather protecting individual rights. The regulatory, bureaucratic state is a monstrous evil.
  3. Hobby Lobby is within its rights to put forward terms of employment however they wish. Employment by an employer is voluntary, and employees can choose voluntarily to accept the terms or not.
  4. Hobby Lobby ought to win their lawsuit against the US federal government. The government is the aggressor here, and should get out of the way.

* Note: A rights violation committed by a health care provider or other business is still a rights violation and is treated as such. Clearly, suggesting interventionism is bad does not mean that rights violations are ignored.

Dr. Norman Horn

Norman founded and the Libertarian Christian Institute, and currently serves as its President and Editor-in-Chief. He holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from the Austin Graduate School of Theology. He currently is a Postdoctoral researcher in Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • steelydanfan

    No, this is not a libertarian position; it’s an authoritarian one.

    The libertarian position is that the workplace rightfully belongs to the workers themselves, and that no one has the right to oppress others with violence, whether one is the state or a nominally “private” actor.

  • Riiiiiiiiight.

  • steelydanfan

    What you call libertarianism is actually authoritarianism. Real libertarianism is, and always has been, fundamentally anti-capitalist in orientation, precisely because capitalism (and especially the laissez-faire capitalism you advocate) is a wholly authoritarian mode of socioeconomic organization.

    Capitalism, and the institution of private property, rely on naked aggression and coercion. There is no place for either in a free society.

  • You have opened my eyes and I will shut this site down post-haste.

    Wait, no. Private property doesn’t rely on naked aggression, it’s the only logical conclusion to the problem of scarcity! Whew. Close one.

  • Squid Hunt

    Your definition of oppression is telling. You seem to say oppression is, “I want something. You must give it to me.” What you are describing is not libertarianism, but communism. Or at best progressivism. To withold goods or services that violate your beliefs of right and wrong is your decision in libertarianism. To pass a law prohibiting my choice is authoritarianism.

  • Squid Hunt

    So the only way to have a truly free society is if government mandates it? Again, not libertarianism.

  • john lind

    I guess Steelydanfan has added yet one more condition to being a ‘true’ libertarian. Now, to be a true libertarian, one must be a statist!!!

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