The Road to Hobby Lobby

Hobby Lobby flyer corrected

On Wednesday, I gave an on-campus presentation titled, “The Road to Hobby Lobby.” I was interested in tracing the connection between Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Oregon v. Smith, the 1990 peyote case in which a 5-4 majority represented by Antonin Scalia rejected the strict scrutiny standard for “free exercise” cases. As a result of that case, Hobby Lobby couldn’t appeal to the First Amendment in claiming a violation of their religious freedom; they appealed instead to RFRA, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the 1993 law that required the federal government to observe the strict scrutiny standard since the Court had held that the Constitution didn’t require it. RFRA passed with broad support across the political spectrum, but in recent years, religious conservatives have invoked RFRA to ends that dismay progressives–as in the Hobby Lobby decision. (I’ve blogged about this before.)

Here are the concluding slides from my PowerPoint presentation. They sum up “the road to Hobby Lobby,” along with what I see as the central irony of the situation:

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