Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Supreme Court Hears #HobbyLobby Case

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard the case brought by crafts superstore Hobby Lobby. While the women of the Court were understandably pro-women and came out swinging, Justice Scalia seemed to think birth control is no big deal for women, even if they have to pay for something they already pay for out of the company premium. It's depressing that the men on the court don't seem to fathom the way insurance works - we saw that in the debate over Obamacare as well.

But even more distressing is that the religious right is predicting victory in this case and so are many in the media. The right-wingers are equating ANY birth control with abortion now, and any woman who uses it is some kind of cold-hearted killer. I saved their nonsensical pronouncements for another post:
To the Far Right, Hobby Lobby Proves Women are Baby Killers

It's true that Hobby Lobby may win their case, but this is hardly a win for the GOP, who seems hell-bent on insulting and alienating women until the party goes extinct. And I'm not sure even the most anti-Left of the Supremes will say business owners can just flout any law they choose in the name of religion - rather they may rule in some narrow way instead of a sweeping generality about all businesses and religions. We won't know until June when the verdict is read, since another medieval thing about SCOTUS is the length of time it takes them to write up decisions. Stay tuned.

From Washington Post
On the one side is the Hobby Lobby arts-and-crafts chain and Conestoga Wood Specialties cabinetry company, both owned by devout families. On the other is the federal government, which argues that the landmark 2010 health care law gives women a statutory right to choose among 20 methods of birth control.

The court, judging from the justices’ questions, is clearly divided on this potential earthquake of a religious rights case. It could be yet another instance where Justice Anthony Kennedy provides the swing vote — in this case whether a corporation has religious rights, and whether those rights in this case have been trampled.

Hobby Lobby, owned by the Green family, and Conestoga, owned by the Hahns, object to paying for the full range of birth control drugs and devices as required by the Affordable Care Act. To them, a handful of the methods they must cover could cause abortion. Including these methods in their companies’ insurance package is, in their eyes, sinful.

From the LA Times
A key moment came near the end of the argument when Kennedy and Roberts raised the issue of abortion.

"Under your view, a profit[-making] corporation could be forced in principle to pay for abortions," Kennedy said.
That is true in principle, Verrilli said, but he added that no law "requires for-profit corporations to pay for abortions."
Roberts sounded surprised. "I thought that's what we had before us," he said.

The exchange made clear that the administration faces an uphill fight. If Roberts and Kennedy decide to view the case as a test of whether the government can ignore a business owner's religious beliefs and force him to provide for abortions, the government would likely lose.


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