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Dershowitz Talks Contraception

At the Willard this week, Alan Dershowitz weighed in on the debate around the Hobby Lobby case that was argued yesterday at the Supreme Court.


Alan spoke with Baylor University president Ken Starr about the HHS contraceptive mandate under ACA. (In the extended 90-minute SCOTUS arguments yesterday, which Alan attended, the court seemed divided.) Baylor and Georgetown co-sponsored the event. The Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby and was in the audience, is opposed to providing four of the 20 forms of contraceptives required by ACA for its more than 13,000 employees. Separation of church and state is good for religion, Alan said, so don't ask for the help of the government. Don't create conflicts between the rights of women or the rights of gay people and the rights of religion—because you're bound to lose many of those battles.


Though Alan says that nobody can predict the outcome with any certainty, and personally is opposed to Hobby Lobby's views on birth control, he finds that distinguishing between an individually owned business and one owned by an S corp is "an absurd argument." If the court tried to undercut that religious principal by citing state law or Blackstone as to what a corporation is, he says, it could itself violate the free exercise of religion clause. He adds: nobody should ever profit financially from being accommodated for religious views. If Hobby Lobby is exempted, it should pay the difference for what it would pay but for those views. Dershowitz joked that he's been thinking about these issues for 65 years—since he was 10 and his dad, an Orthodox Jew, had to go to court for having his clothing store opened on Sundays.