Monday’s announced decisions from the Supreme Court show why its so important to elect another Democrat president in 2016. Two decisions, one that favors corporate personhood over individual rights and one that limits the ability of unions to collect dues from part-time workers who benefit from Union negotiations came down on the side of conservatives.
In the first case, HobbyLobby earns the right to deny contraception to female employees as part of their health insurance on the grounds of religious freedom. Here’s a summary from CrooksandLiars.com:
In order to make this decision, the majority had to twist itself in knots. Here are some examples:
- Corporations are persons, but maybe only if they’re closely held. Maybe. Corporations are established to protect the people who own them, therefore they are ‘persons’ too.
- Corporations are religious too, my friends. In disagreeing with Ginsburg’s dissent, Alito writes that ‘for-profit corporations do seek to perpetuate the religious values shared’ just like churches do.
- Lofty values belong to owners and employees alike Because for-profit corporations may be organized for any lawful purpose, they are not required to pursue profit at the expense of everything else, and therefore may impose their owners’ religious beliefs onto their customers and employees. Alito uses the example of corporations which operate in foreign countries but impose stricter employee safety measures, or take pollution control measures beyond regulatory minimums, then says “If for-profit corporations may pursue such worthy objectives, there is no apparent reason why they may not further religious objectives as well.” Of course, neither example is one that involves dictating personal life decisions upon their employees.
- Denying science: It is enough that the Greens and the Hahns believe some contraception methods are actually abortion methods, regardless of science. Alito argues that because the Hahns and Greens believe IUDs and three other forms of covered contraception are “connected to the destruction of the embryo in a way that is sufficient to make it immoral for them to provide the coverage. This belief implicates a difficult and important question of religion and moral philosophy, namely, the circumstances under which it is wrong for a person to perform an act that is innocent in itself but that has the effect of enabling or facilitating the commission of an immoral act by another.”
- Contraception first, then vaccinations, transfusions, antidepressants and more! They are trying to kill the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Medicaid by the death of a thousand cuts. First it was contraception, but the majority left the door open for more challenges by carving out contraception and inviting other groups to challenge other treatments. Alito writes that “other coverage requirements, such as immunizations, may be supported by different interests (for example, the need to combat the spread of infectious diseases) and may involve different arguments about the least restrictive means of providing them.” In other words, bring on the challenges, let’s see what we can do.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg delivered a blistering dissent:
- “Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community.”
- “Any decision to use contraceptives made by a woman covered under Hobby Lobby’s or Conestoga’s plan will not be propelled by the Government, it will be the woman’s autonomous choice, informed by the physician she consults.”
- “It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month’s full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage.”
- “Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be ‘perceived as favoring one religion over another,’ the very ‘risk the [Constitution's] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.”
One of my Facebook friends summed the ruling up this way: “To those that are applauding the Supreme Court decision today as a “win” for religion: it isn’t. You think this means “Christians” win. They don’t. This sets a dangerous precedent for bosses of other religions to enforce their beliefs on employees too. A Jehovah Witness boss could refuse coverage for blood transfusions for example and a Christian Scientist could refuse all insurance coverage since they think prayer alone will heal you. No, this decision did not make America a Christian nation — it made the people a slave to religious fanatics from every faith.“
In the short term, we can hope to overturn this terrible decision in the future. But if you consider yourself a progressive, a liberal or a Democrat, vote with your wallet and don’t patronize HobbyLobby.
From Politico: “By a 5-4 vote, the justices ruled in Harris v. Quinn that home health care workers in Illinois cannot be compelled to pay dues to a union they don’t wish to join. Illinois is one of 26 states that require public-sector workers — such as firefighters, police officers and teachers — to pay dues to the unions that negotiate their contracts and represent them in grievances, even if the employees find the union’s advocacy work distasteful.”
Conservatives are cheering both decisions today, failing to see the bigger picture behind both decisions. As my partner on this blog has much more experience than I on all matters union, I’ll defer to him for additional commentary on this ruling.