Conscience and the Culture Wars
By Reva Siegel and Douglas NeJaime
June 29, 2015
The American Prospect
These days, conservatives seem to own “conscience.” Consider the current objection to marriage equality. “Some citizens may conclude that they cannot in good conscience participate in a same-sex ceremony, from priests and pastors to bakers and florists,” argues the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson. “The government should not force them to choose between their religious beliefs and their livelihood.” Serving same-sex couples, business owners assert, would make them complicit in relationships they deem sinful, and so they claim religious exemptions from state and local antidiscrimination laws.
Conscience is also the rallying cry of conservatives opposed to the Affordable Care Act. In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, decided by the Supreme Court in June 2014, employers challenged the ACA’s required coverage of contraception on the grounds that it would make them complicit in their employees’ use of drugs that the employers believe cause abortion. The Court ruled 5–4 in favor of the employers’ conscience objections.
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