Monday, June 30, 2014

SCOTUS ruling on Hobby Lobby case expected today: Here are critical Q&QA

Here are some points from the Salon.com primer.

What is Hobby Lobby so mad about? 
Hobby Lobby, a for-profit and privately held corporation owned by a family of evangelical Christians, sued the Department of Health and Human Services in September 2012 because it believed that the contraception requirement of the Affordable Care Act was an unconstitutional violation of its sincerely held religious beliefs.  ... one of the questions before the high court right now is whether or not the company itself can have sincerely held religious beliefs, and — if the court is willing to recognize corporate religion — whether the contraception mandate places an “undue burden” on those beliefs.
And what beliefs are those, specifically? 
Hobby Lobby has based its claim in its religious opposition to abortion; according to lawyers for the company, the main issue here is four forms of birth control that it doesn’t want to cover because it believes they are abortion-inducing drugs. This is incorrect! ... “These medications are there to prevent or delay ovulation,” Dr. Petra Casey, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the Mayo Clinic, told the New York Times in a piece on the science behind emergency contraception. “They don’t act after fertilization.”
And what’s the law behind this legal challenge? 
Hobby Lobby believes it should be exempted from complying with the new healthcare requirements because of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a law passed in 1993 to protect individuals from having their rights trampled by the government. ... The law was supposed to be a safeguard against big entities stomping all over the rights of individuals. Hobby Lobby is invoking it to do the exact opposite.
What happens if the justices find that corporations can have faith?  
Bad stuff. Weird stuff. If Hobby Lobby prevails in arguing that corporations can have sincerely held religious beliefs, the ruling would effectively make the kind of discrimination conservative lawmakers in Arizona tried to pass earlier this year with SB 1062 the law of the land. (Emphasis added.)
“Denying birth control to your workers because of your own religious objections to it superimposes your own personal beliefs about conscience and faith onto your employees. So does refusing to serve a gay person due to a religious objection to their sexual orientation,” Ian Millhiser of the Center for American Progress wrote earlier this year. “If the Supreme Court winds up holding that one person’s faith can impose itself on another, which is exactly what the plaintiffs in Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood want them to do, then all the nightmare scenarios” — rampant anti-LGBTQ and gender-based discrimination among them — “imagined in the debate over the Arizona bill could become very real.”
Anything else I should know about Hobby Lobby? 

Yeah, lots.  You should read the Salon.com article to find out the finer points of the laws involved in this case and the justices' lines of questioning during arguments.  The American public does not agree with Hobby Lobby, but that apparently does not carry much weight these days.  One last thing:

The company is also financially linked to a pretty expansive right-wing network.
And the organizations and individuals filing briefs in support of Hobby Lobby have really terrible views about women and sex and are all kind of fringe-y banana brains like the people at the American Freedom Law Center. Here’s an excerpt from that organization’s brief in support of the company:
Thus, it has come to pass that the widespread use of contraceptives has indeed harmed women physically, emotionally, morally, and spiritually — and has, in many respects, reduced her to the “mere instrument for the satisfaction of [man’s] own desires.” Consequently, the promotion of contraceptive services — the very goal of the challenged mandate — harms not only women, but it harms society in general by ‘open[ing] wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards.’ Responsible men and women cannot deny this truth.

So hold your breath.  We teeter on the edge of making religious fundamentalism, and radical fundamentalism at that, the law of the land.

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