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Credit Ian Millhiser of Think Progress with the excellent headline that appears above as well as the following story that appeared on the group’s website yesterday:

ROn Tuesday, the Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision in Holt v. Hobbs, establishing that a Muslim inmate may grow a half-inch beard “in accordance with his religious beliefs,” despite a prison policy prohibiting him from doing so. This result is not particularly surprising. During oral argument the justices appeared sympathetic to the inmate, who listed as “Gregory Houston Holt AKA Abdul Maalik Muhammad.” And Mr. Muhammad had strong legal arguments supporting his case.

In the Court’s majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito convincingly rebuts the prison’s justifications for requiring Muhammad to shave. Among other things, the prison claimed that an inmate might hide contraband, such as a razor or illegal drugs, in their beard if they were permitted to grow one. According to Alito, however, the prison’s claim that an inmate might smuggle items in a half-inch beard, is “hard to take seriously.” The prison, for example, does not require inmates to shave their heads, so “it is hard to see why an inmate would seek to hide contraband in a 1/2-inch beard rather than in the longer hair on his head.”

Though Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joins Alito’s opinion, she also penned a two sentence concurring opinion explaining why Tuesday’s decision is a proper application of an individual’s religious freedoms — and why she believes that the Court’s birth control decision in Hobby Lobby was erroneous. “Unlike the exemption this Court approved in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.,” Ginsburg explains, “accommodating petitioner’s religious belief in this case would not detrimentally affect others who do not share petitioner’s belief. On that understanding, I join the Court’s opinion.” Read More

Commentary

Thom Tillis 2As was explained at some length in this post earlier this year, there are several reasons that the support voiced during the 2014 campaign by Senator-elect Thom Tillis and other conservative candidates for access to “over-the-counter” contraceptives was a disingenuous batch of baloney cooked up by GOP campaign consultants.

…the trick lies in the conservative politicians’ deceptive use of a term (“over the counter contraceptives”) that really has no practical meaning.

Currently, the main and most effective contraceptives available to women are not available without a prescription (i.e. “over the counter”). Moreover, as Planned Parenthood Vice President and occasional N.C. Policy Watch contributor Melissa Reed pointed out in a statement last week,

“…while leading women’s health experts agree that some forms of birth control should be made available OTC, there is not a single manufacturer that has submitted an application to the FDA to do so.”

In other words, to be “for” OTC contraceptives without providing any genuine specifics about how and when the government would go about effecting such a momentous change is meaningless and a downright deceptive and empty gesture.

Nonetheless, one might have thought that the GOP would at least pay lip service to the idea after the election in order to cover their tracks for a while. As this article featuring Thom Tillis  (in yesterday’s Washington Times, of all places) makes clear, however, that ain’t gonna’ happen. The article says that expanding OTC access in the upcoming session of Congress is (surprise!!) “markedly absent” from the plans of GOP leaders.

And somewhere, Karl Rove is smiling.

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Ian MillhiserIt looks like we’ll have a sizable crowd, but some seats still remain for Thursday’s NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation luncheon: The State of the U.S. Supreme Court with Ian Millhiser of the Center for American Progress.

Millhiser is the Senior Constitutional Policy Analyst for the Center for American Progress and the Justice Editor for the Center for American Progress Action Fund. His work focuses on the Constitution and the judiciary. Ian previously was a Policy Analyst and Blogger for ThinkProgress, held the open government portfolio for CAP’s Doing What Works project, and was a Legal Research Analyst with ThinkProgress during the nomination and confirmation of Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court.

Don’t miss the opportunity to hear from this knowledgeable and important voice at this critical time.

When: Thursday, August 21, at noon — Box lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m.

Where: *(NOTE—NEW LOCATION)* The North Carolina Association of Educators Building, 700 S. Salisbury St. in Raleigh. This location features on-site parking.

Cost: $10, admission includes a box lunch.

Click here to register

Questions?? Contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or rob@ncpolicywatch.com

– See more at: http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2014/08/11/crucial-conversation-the-state-of-the-u-s-supreme-court-with-ian-millhiser-of-the-center-for-american-progress/#sthash.TdgPmivj.dpuf
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Ian MillhiserSeats are going fast for next week’s NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation – “The state of the U.S. Supreme Court with Ian Millhiser of the Center for American Progress.”

Where do things stand in the after math of the disastrous Hobby Lobby decision? What’s is on the Supreme Court docket for the fall? What can progressives do help repopulate the courts with fair and qualified judges?

Join us as we pose these questions and others to Ian Millhiser. Millhiser is the Senior Constitutional Policy Analyst for the Center for American Progress and the Justice Editor for the Center for American Progress Action Fund. His work focuses on the Constitution and the judiciary. Ian previously was a Policy Analyst and Blogger for ThinkProgress, held the open government portfolio for CAP’s Doing What Works project, and was a Legal Research Analyst with ThinkProgress during the nomination and confirmation of Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court.

Don’t miss the opportunity to hear from this knowledgeable and important voice at this important time.

Click here to register

When: Thursday, August 21 at 12 noon – Box lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m.

Where: *(NOTE—NEW LOCATION)* The North Carolina Association of Educators Building, 700 S. Salisbury St. in Raleigh. This location features on-site parking.

Cost: $10

Admission includes a box lunch.

Space is limited – pre-registration required.

Questions?? Contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or rob@ncpolicywatch.com.

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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.