Roundup of Arkansas editorials

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Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers:

Texarkana Gazette, July 1, 2014

Hobby Lobby

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday in perhaps its highest profile case of the year.

Last year, the craft store chain Hobby Lobby challenged the Obamacare requirement that the company pay for employee health insurance coverage of certain birth control and abortion drugs.

Hobby Lobby could have been fined — or taxed, as the court has already decided to call it — more than $1 million a day if it did not provide contraception coverage. That coverage was required to include the "morning after" abortion pill.

The company is a privately held corporation, still run by founder David Green and his family. The owners require the stores be closed on Sunday in accordance with their Christian convictions. "Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles," is part of Hobby Lobby's mission statement.

The Greens have no problem with birth control pills, but claimed that providing coverage for the morning after pill and other such drugs and devices is a violation of their religious freedom.

Three years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United case that corporations, along with labor unions and other associations, had the First Amendment right to spend money in support of, or opposition to, political candidates.

But the First Amendment also guarantees religious freedom. The question before the court was whether that freedom applied to businesses as well.

The company had already won its case in federal court. The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that Hobby Lobby and other privately held corporations had the same religious rights as their owners and could sue over the Obamacare requirements. The Obama administration appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court.

And lost.

The Justices in a 5-4 decision ruled that closely-held corporations like Hobby Lobby and a much smaller family owned firm named Conestoga Wood Specialties, which also challenged the law, cannot be forced to pay for contraceptives that interfere with conception after sex.

Associate Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority, cited the 1994 federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and said the government could only infringe on the religious beliefs of owners of closely held businesses in the least intrusive manner.

"Protecting the free-exercise rights of closely held corporations thus protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control them," he wrote.

The opinion noted there were other means to provide the contraceptives in question without involving the companies.

"The most straightforward way of doing this would be for the Government to assume the cost of providing the four contraceptives at issue to any women who are unable to obtain them under their health-insurance policies due to their employers' religious objections," he wrote.

Writing in dissent, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the court had just opened the door for business owners to make religious objections to just about any law out there.

Alito was insistent that the court's decision applied solely to the question at hand.

We agree with the majority's decision, but we share Ginsburg's uncertainty of what the future might bring. There are a lot of religions out there with a lot of different beliefs. And some of those beliefs are pretty far out of the mainstream. This decision may apply only to contraception and Obamacare, but we would bet dollars to donuts it will spur thousands of lawsuits down the road.

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Harrison Daily Times, June 26, 2014

Bridging the gaps in our Ozark history

The Bridge of Sighs, London Bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Zinc swinging bridge.

The what?

The swinging bridge at Zinc, at first glance, may not seem to have much in common with the other notable spans on that list. However, like the other bridges, the Zinc bridge is a symbol of its area, a landmark.

The swinging bridge, which spanned Sugar Orchard Creek in the small Boone County community had either collapsed or was torn down recently. Either way, with it collapsed an era.

The bridge was built about 1927 by miners idled by floods. Zinc, at the time, was a fairly prosperous mining community. During the town's heyday, thousands of people crossed the bridge.

The bridge was nominated for the National Register of Historic Places. According to the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, part of that had to do with the bridge's association with the development of transportation networks in Zinc.

The Zinc bridge was for decades a part of our Ozark heritage. It gave a glimpse into how life once was in these parts. When it came crashing down, along with it went part of our history.

There has been talk that Zinc will be building another bridge over the creek. That would certainly be nice. However, nothing can ever replace what the original swinging bridge represented.

There can be only one Golden Gate Bridge, and there can be only one Zinc swinging bridge.

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Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, June 29, 2014

Law 2, President 0

It was a good week for the rule of law in the never-ending case, challenge and general struggle of U.S. v. Obama, which is sure to be continued.

This was the week that the Supreme Court of the United States ruled--unanimously--that the community organizer and, get this, professor of constitutional law (or at least senior lecturer in the subject) who now resides at the White House can't make recess appointments to powerful federal agencies while, as it happens, Congress is not in recess.

How about that? The brethren — and sistern — justices must have read the Constitution of the United States at some point during their distinguished legal careers and, even more impressive, decided to heed it. Which is more than one can reliably say about Occupant, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C.

What next? Will the high court rule that the chief executive officer of the United States of America must faithfully execute the laws? Instead of rewriting them whenever they prove inconvenient. Even if they're laws like his signature failure, aka Obamacare, that he himself insisted on passing. Thanks to the Supreme Court, there's new hope. So keep the good thought. And hope the high court continues to keep faith with the Constitution of the United States.

The moral of this story: No matter how long deferred, there's always hope. Just hold on till January 20, 2017. Help is on the way, or at least the end of this president's term is. Even though there's no guarantee the next president of the United States won't be just as heedless of a little detail like the law of the land. Our Lady of Benghazi, H.R. Clinton, already waits in the wings. This long, long presidential term may be only the first act of an extended tragicomedy. Strength.

But here's another sign and wonder: This was also the week the Supreme Court took judicial notice of the First Amendment, and struck down the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' law limiting free speech on a public sidewalk — if it happens to run past an abortion mill. Excuse us, abortion "clinic." That makes the score Constitution 2, President 0. Which is a more heartening result than any reported out of the World Cup.

And just what were these incorrigible Christians doing on that sidewalk that so upset the abortion lobby and its friends in the Massachusetts legislature? They were trying to save the babies their mothers wouldn't, and even the mothers themselves from the lifetime of remorse so many women who have abortions know all too well. Forgive them, for despite all those folks on the sidewalk, they may not know what they do.

In this Culture of Death, women abort perfectly healthy babies — babies who would be welcomed by other families, or the kind of orphanages and churches and homes for unwed mothers who would welcome these little ones with open arms and an open heart. These children might even be welcomed by the mothers themselves if only they were given more time to think about what they were doing, even pray about it.

How can one blame the mothers, assaulted by the spirit (or spiritlessness) of these times? And misled by a whole vocabulary of euphemisms for child sacrifice. No, we may no longer sacrifice to Baal or Ashtaroth, for today's just as demanding gods may go by much more attractive names. For example, economic necessity or choice or just convenience, for these gods shape-shift with the ever-changing times.

It's not so much that the times change, it's just that the idols change their names. In nature there is protective coloration. In ideology, there is nominal coloration. The abomination may remain the same, but it adopts a new name.

It shouldn't be necessary to recite some list of eminent personages who were born without first having taken the precaution of making sure their mothers were wed in order to oppose abortion. For all of us are created equal, and endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, first among them the right to life, or so our founding declaration declares. That right doesn't have to be earned; it's God-given.

Now, with July the Fourth just around the corner, the Supreme Court has given us a couple of more reasons (NLRB v. Canning and McCullen v. Coakley) to celebrate the day all those meddling editors in the Continental Congress stopped fiddling with Thomas Jefferson's still shining words and decided to send them off to the printer's, the country, and the whole world. Now they shine anew, burnished by a Supreme Court that has shown it still respects those words even in these not always life-affirming times. Take heart.

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