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Hobby Lobby1. The unconstitutional application of religious liberty: The original purpose of religious liberty is defined as the separation of church and state, ensuring the protection of both through mutual autonomy. Health care coverage is an entity of the state. By permitting Hobby Lobby the refusal to cover certain forms of birth control on religious grounds in its female employees’ health care plans, the Supreme Court is essentially giving the same blessing of religious liberty to a corporate entity that the law permits for private faith. Based on such reasoning, a company run by Jehovah’s Witnesses could write blood transfusions out of their health care plans and companies run by fundamentalist Christians could write vaccines out of theirs.

2. Blatant hypocrisy: Hobby Lobby’s excuse to refuse coverage for certain forms of women’s birth control was framed as religious opposition to what they falsely named “abortion”–specific contraceptives and devices that prevent a zygote from being implanted in the uterine wall. However, as noted by Mother Jones in a recent investigation, Hobby Lobby has financial ties not only to the manufacturing of said forms of birth control but even to drugs used for inducing abortions. Hobby Lobby has stock holdings in companies that manufacture these products. This is blatant hypocrisy and reveals that the true motive wasn’t religious conviction at all but corporate greed.

3. It’s counterproductive: As noted by pro-life progressive and faith activist Brian McLaren in a recent article, the Hobby Lobby decision–while being hailed as a victory against abortion by many in conservative Christian faith communities–is actually counterproductive to such a cause in that it does nothing to reduce or prevent real abortions. In fact, by making it more financially difficult for female employees to acquire birth control that, scientifically, does not constitute abortion, Hobby Lobby is eliminating assistance that would actually reduce abortions. Hence, the decision is not in any way a victory against abortion. To the contrary, it deceives Hobby Lobby’s religious supporters into making abortion a more viable option through the withdrawal of financial support for significant forms of birth control such as emergency contraception.

The Supreme Court Ruled One Way - Here's How You Fight BackThe US Supreme Court decided today that “closely held” corporations that object to contraceptives on religious grounds can deny this preventive coverage to female employees. There will be a great deal of constitutional banter on this opinion but, not being a constitutional scholar, I will make a few practical points.

First, when HHS wrote this popular regulation ensuring that women have access to preventive health care, the department looked to what most states require as a guide. North Carolina, along with a majority of states, mandate that health plans cover contraceptives. Our state has a reasonable exemption for religious employers, and HHS included a similar exemption in its regulations. I hasten to add that, despite this state law, few employers have argued that our state is impeding their religious freedoms.

Second, if you read the Supreme Court decision the majority opinion spends strikingly little time examining the possible impact on women. Instead, Justice Samuel Alito spends most of his space arguing that corporations are people and should enjoy the same religious rights and freedoms as individuals. In contrast, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg spends a great deal of time balancing the claims of the Hobby Lobby owners with the health care needs of female employees.

Third, this opinion opens the gate to whittle away many types of preventive health coverage mandates. Justice Alito says that each of these requirements will have to undergo its own analysis and that the current decision is narrowly tailored, but Hobby Lobby certainly invites a great deal of mischief. We will find out in the coming months and years just how deeply this court is willing to cut into protections for women and families.

Here are some initial links to analysis of the Hobby Lobby decision: ThinkProgress, the National Health Law Program, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and TalkingPointsMemo.

 

Hobby LobbyAs reported in numerous places — click here for Ian Millhiser’s quick take at the for the Center for American Progress — the widely-dreaded Hobby Lobby decision came down today from the U.S. Supreme Court. In response, the good folks at Mother Jones posted the following article.

On Monday, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg penned a blistering dissent to the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling that the government can’t require certain employers to provide insurance coverage for methods of birth control and emergency contraception that conflict with their religious beliefs. Ginsburg wrote that her five male colleagues, “in a decision of startling breadth,” would allow corporations to opt out of almost any law that they find “incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Here are seven more key quotes from Ginsburg’s dissent in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby: Read More

Supreme courtWhen you hear the name Hobby Lobby, fabrics and knitting needles may come to mind, but soon the for-profit, 13,000 employee, big box craft company will likely be known for something of greater import.

That’s because on Tuesday the company will present its challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that as a corporation it has a religious identity and that, by forcing the company to pay for certain forms of contraception under the ACA, the government is unconstitutionally burdening its beliefs.

It’s a dangerous case with bad facts, bad science and bad law —  all of which, according to many legal experts, may lead to several scenarios with bad outcomes. As Stephanie Mencimer of Mother Jones writes:

Thanks to novel legal arguments and bad science, a ruling in favor of the company threatens any number of significant and revolutionary outcomes, from upending a century’s worth of settled corporate law to opening the floodgates to religious challenges to every possible federal statute to gutting the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act.

For everything and more you need to know about the case and possible outcomes, read on here.

 

 

 

In this excellent post, Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick takes a look at the insidious movement to extend and expand “personhood” and argues that the movement’s underlying tenets, taken to extremes by courts and legislatures, wind up demeaning the very essence of being human.

As Lithwick notes, corporations are people — at least for purposes of political expression — following the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC.  So too will zygotes be if anti-abortion activists have their way with legislators across the country.

And now the Supreme Court will once again address the scope of “personhood”  in the two cases it agreed to hear last week — Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. v. Sebelius and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, deciding whether coroporations are people for purposes of religious expression as well.

Here’s why that determination should be troublesome for people (human beings) regardless of religious views or politics:

Hobby Lobby and Conestoga are ultimately so worrisome because they fuse together two of the most dangerous right-wing civil rights obsessions of our times: the ambition of large, for-profit corporations to see themselves as people, with faith, convictions, and consciences, and the attempt of citizens, using their own science and their own facts, to declare when legal personhood begins, and then impose universal laws based on those beliefs. The cases are a collision of two very insidious legal metaphors — that personhood begins when any one religion says it does and that religious personhood can be vested in corporations in ways that can be forced on workers. It simply cannot be the case that in a country of 319 million people, we are ready to recognize zygotes and Walmart as legal “persons.” We can protect animals and unborn babies and corporations without also embodying them with a humanity they don’t possess. Turning everything and anything into a “person” ultimately also serves to turn persons into things.