In its 5-4 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., et al., handed down yesterday, the US Supreme Court reaffirmed the madness that has overtaken America, the war on women is very much alive and the secular nation the framers of the constitution established is now in its death throes.
Legal fictions called corporations now not only have personhood but privately held for-profit corporations also have religious rights.
In writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito noted, “In these cases, the owners of three closely held for-profit corporations [Hobby Lobby, Mardel and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp.] have sincere Christian beliefs that life begins at conception and that it would violate their religion to facilitate access to contraceptive drugs or devices that operate after that point. In separate actions, they sued HHS and other federal officials and agencies (collectively HHS) under RFRA and the Free Exercise Clause, seeking to enjoin application of the contraceptive mandate insofar as it requires them to provide health coverage for the four objectionable contraceptives. In No. 13.–356, the District Court denied the Hahns and their company.—Conestoga Wood Specialties.—a preliminary injunction. Affirming, the Third Circuit held that a for-profit corporation could not “engage in religious exercise.” under RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] or the First Amendment, and that the mandate imposed no requirements on the Hahns in their personal capacity. In No. 13.–354, the Greens, their children, and their companies.—Hobby Lobby Stores and Mardel.—were also denied a preliminary injunction, but the Tenth Circuit reversed. It held that the Greens.’ businesses are. “persons.” under RFRA, and that the corporations had established a likelihood of success on their RFRA claim because the contraceptive mandate substantially burdened their exercise of religion and HHS had not demonstrated a compelling interest in enforcing the mandate against them; in the alternative, the court held that HHS had not proved that the mandate was the ‘least restrictive means” of furthering a compelling governmental interest.”
To soften the blow of ruling that privately held for-profit corporations can exercise their “religious beliefs” in not paying for the four contraceptives they believe are abortifacients, because they don’t allow a fertilized egg to implant in the uterus, and not opening the door to other laws such corporations find objectionable on religious grounds, Alito wrote, “This decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to hold that all insurance-coverage mandates, e.g., for vaccinations or blood transfusions, must necessarily fall if they conflict with an employer’s religious beliefs. Nor does it provide a shield for employers who might cloak illegal discrimination as a religious practice. United States v. Lee, 455 U. S. 252, which upheld the payment of Social Security taxes despite an employer’s religious objection, is not analogous. It turned primarily on the special problems associated with a national system of taxation; and if Lee were a RFRA case, the fundamental point would still be that there is no less restrictive alternative to the categorical requirement to pay taxes. Here, there is an alternative to the contraceptive mandate. Pp. 45–49.”
In her dissenting opinion, Justice Ruth Ginsberg, takes issue with Alito’s reasoning that this does not open the door to a flood of lawsuits based on “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
She wrote, “In a decision of startling breadth, the Court holds that commercial enterprises, including corporations, along with partnerships and sole proprietorships, can opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs. See ante, at 16.–49. Compelling governmental interests in uniform compliance with the law, and disadvantages that religion-based optouts impose on others, hold no sway, the Court decides, at least when there is a “less restrictive alternative . . .” And such an alternative, the Court suggests, there always will be whenever, in lieu of tolling an enterprise claiming a religion-based exemption, the government, i.e., the general public, can pick up the tab.”
Nor does she buy the notion that it is Congress’s fault for passing RFRA that led to this decision: “In the Court’s view, RFRA demands accommodation of a for-profit corporation’s religious beliefs no matter the impact that accommodation may have on third parties who do not share the corporation owners’ Religious faith.—in these cases, thousands of women employed by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga or dependents of persons those corporations employ. Persuaded that Congress enacted RFRA to serve a far less radical purpose, and mindful of the havoc the Court’s judgment can introduce, I dissent.”
You can read the whole opinion here.
The Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United, called the ruling “a double-edged disaster. It conjures up fake religious freedom rights for corporations while being blind to the importance of birth control to America’s working women.
“The justices have set a dangerous precedent. While the Obama administration may arrange for the government to provide contraceptives, a future administration could easily take that away. In years to come, many women may find their access to birth control hanging by a thread. “
Now that Alito has opened this can of worms, when will the Jehovah’s Witness file suit against paying for blood transfusions, or Christian Scientists paying for any medical care, or the Scientologists for paying for any psychiatric care?
And don’t think these cases won’t come. Mother Jones reported, “Since February 2012, 71 other for-profit companies have challenged the ACA’s contraceptive mandate in court, according to the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC). The majority of these for-profit cases (46 in addition to Hobby Lobby’s) are still pending. Jump to the full list of cases by clicking here.”
This past April, in Hobby Lobby Invested In Numerous Abortion And Contraception Products While Claiming Religious Objection, Richard Ungar wrote, “In what just may be the most stunning example of hypocrisy in my lifetime, Mother Jones has uncovered numerous investments on the part of Hobby Lobby’s retirement fund in a wide variety of companies producing abortion and contraception related products.”
Ungar pointed out, “Remarkably, the contraceptive devices and products that so offend the religious beliefs of this family are manufactured by the very companies in which Hobby Lobby holds a substantial stake via their employee 401(k) plan.”
As Elie Mystal noted in Hobby Lobby and the True Gangsta Life of Justice Alito, “Last year at about this time, Justice Samuel Alito authored one of the most sneaky anti-woman decisions in recent memory. In Vance v. Ball State University, Justice Alito made it much more difficult for women to sue their employers for workplace harassment.”
Mystal wrote, “Today, Alito once again puts in the heavy lifting to make the world worse for working women. Apparently, in Alito’s world, it’s not only okay for employers to try to have sex with their female employees, they also get to regulate what medications they take . . .”
So has Alito not only made life more difficult for women and their reproductive health needs, but also paved the way for their religiously-inspired employers to not only sexually harass them, but to con or force them into having sex, then refusing to pay for a contraceptive that goes against their religious beliefs to ward off pregnancy?
Despite the cries of the religious right, the United States of America has never been a Christian country, but it’s inching closer to becoming one with Supreme Court rulings like the recent ones handed down.
The framers knew exactly what they were doing when they established the USA as a secular country. Unlike most Americans today, including the members of Congress, the executive branch and the Supreme Court, they were well versed in history. They knew the horrors of theocratic nations. Plus, closer to home they saw the mischief and injustices in the 13 original colonies that had established religions. The only mention of religion in the body of the constitution is that there shall be no religious test for any “office or public trust under the United States,” something which is now violated with impunity. (Article VI)