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Hobby Lobby victory fuels concerns

Hobby Lobby victory fuels concerns

CHRISTIAN conservatives in the US are cock-a-hoop today after the Supreme Court ruled by 5-4 that profit-seeking businesses such as the arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby can hold religious views under federal law.

The Oklahoma-based company is owned by the Green family, who are devout Christians. They said Obamacare’s mandate requiring they provide insurance coverage for all forms of birth control violates their religious rights.

The court agreed. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority, saying:

The HHS contraceptive mandate substantially burdens the exercise of religion.

Reaction to the high court’s ruling ranged from spontaneous celebration among religious and pro-family groups in Washington to strong criticism from pro-choice women’s groups.

Hobby Lobby co-founder Barbara Green described her family as “overjoyed” by the decision. She called it

A victory, not just for our family business, but for all who seek to live out their faith. We are grateful to God and to those who have supported us on this difficult journey.

Kristina Arriaga is executive director of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the legal group representing the Hobby Lobby owners.

She told CBN News if Hobby Lobby had lost, federal fines would have crushed them, adding that the Green family wasn’t asking much of the government.

They have a terrific health care plan and all they objected to was four out of 20 FDA-mandated drugs. And the government said ‘fine.  You don’t have to provide them and we’ll fine you $1.6 million a day.’  The fines would have been crushing. 

Beyond the contraception mandate, this case has huge implications for the country.  For instance, this is the first time the Court has ruled that a corporation – just like individuals – has a right to religious freedom.

Within hours of the Supreme court's decision, protest signs began sprouting outside Hobby Lobby in Spokane, Washington. This was one of them.

Within hours of the Supreme Court’s decision, protest signs began sprouting outside Hobby Lobby in Spokane, Washington. This was one of them.

According to this report, the Supreme Court decision is “huge” and effectively gives faith-based companies the right to discriminate against anyone they disapprove of.

Abortion coverage usually doesn’t mean a heck of a lot for gays and lesbians, but the decision sets a precedent that could do harm down the road for equal treatment in health insurance and discrimination by essentially declaring religious liberty to be superior to more secular concerns of employees.

Now that the Supreme Court has declared that corporations can have religious convictions, just like a person, the logical extension is that those same convictions could one day be justified in overruling well-established workplace non-discrimination laws.

The report adds:

In that scenario, an employer could justify a policy against hiring gays – or even anyone who seems gay-ish – by claiming that hiring gays or even providing health care to them would violate their company’s religious beliefs. Hobby lobby, which covers other forms of birth control, have not indicated such a sweeping view, but the potential is there for such an interpretation of the ruling.

Today’s decision is both dangerous and unprecedented. During oral arguments, counsel for the government, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, noted that a decision in favor of Hobby Lobby would be “the first time under the Free Exercise Clause or under RFRA in which [the Supreme Court] or any court has held that an employer . . . may be granted an exemption that extinguishes statutorily guaranteed benefits of fundamental importance.”

Today’s ruling ignored the rights and needs of thousands of female Hobby Lobby employees, and millions of women nationwide who work at for-profit corporations. Women workers must not be at the mercy of employers who happen to be religious fanatics who want to intrude into private reproductive decisions that are none of their business. Rather than protecting women workers’ right to health care and women’s freedom of conscience, the Court has turned its back on them in the name of “religious liberty.” This is untenable.

This damaging decision opens the floodgates for corporations, interested only in increasing their bottom line, to claim religious objections to a variety of generally applicable laws. The Court arbitrarily claims its decision would not necessarily allow a corporation to claim a similar religious objection to blood transfusions, vaccines, or mental health services, or create a religious right to discriminate on the basis of sex, sexual orientation or race. But very obviously, the ruling creates mischievous precedent that will haunt the next generation of litigation.

– See more at: http://ffrf.org/news/action/item/20865-ask-congress-to-counter-supreme-court-s-hobby-lobby-ruling#sthash.3C8CG9PK.dpuf

Today’s decision is both dangerous and unprecedented. During oral arguments, counsel for the government, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, noted that a decision in favor of Hobby Lobby would be “the first time under the Free Exercise Clause or under RFRA in which [the Supreme Court] or any court has held that an employer . . . may be granted an exemption that extinguishes statutorily guaranteed benefits of fundamental importance.”

Today’s ruling ignored the rights and needs of thousands of female Hobby Lobby employees, and millions of women nationwide who work at for-profit corporations. Women workers must not be at the mercy of employers who happen to be religious fanatics who want to intrude into private reproductive decisions that are none of their business. Rather than protecting women workers’ right to health care and women’s freedom of conscience, the Court has turned its back on them in the name of “religious liberty.” This is untenable.

This damaging decision opens the floodgates for corporations, interested only in increasing their bottom line, to claim religious objections to a variety of generally applicable laws. The Court arbitrarily claims its decision would not necessarily allow a corporation to claim a similar religious objection to blood transfusions, vaccines, or mental health services, or create a religious right to discriminate on the basis of sex, sexual orientation or race. But very obviously, the ruling creates mischievous precedent that will haunt the next generation of litigation.

– See more at: http://ffrf.org/news/action/item/20865-ask-congress-to-counter-supreme-court-s-hobby-lobby-ruling#sthash.3C8CG9PK.dpuf

The Freedom From Religion Foundation described today’s decision as:

Both dangerous and unprecedented … Today’s ruling ignored the rights and needs of thousands of female Hobby Lobby employees, and millions of women nationwide who work at for-profit corporations. Women workers must not be at the mercy of employers who happen to be religious fanatics who want to intrude into private reproductive decisions that are none of their business. Rather than protecting women workers’ right to health care and women’s freedom of conscience, the Court has turned its back on them in the name of ‘religious liberty’. This is untenable.

This damaging decision opens the floodgates for corporations, interested only in increasing their bottom line, to claim religious objections to a variety of generally applicable laws. The Court arbitrarily claims its decision would not necessarily allow a corporation to claim a similar religious objection to blood transfusions, vaccines, or mental health services, or create a religious right to discriminate on the basis of sex, sexual orientation or race. But very obviously, the ruling creates mischievous precedent that will haunt the next generation of litigation.

Top picture shows pro-choice demonstrators rallying outside of the US Supreme Court in March during oral arguments in the Hobby Lobby case (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Hat tip: BarrieJohn (Freedom from Religion Foundation report)

19 responses to “Hobby Lobby victory fuels concerns”

  1. Vanity Unfair says:

    If I’ve got this right; the Supreme Court couldn’t find against the insurers because Hobby Lobby is a private firm and the separation rules do not apply. However, HL cannot take on any government or government-funded business because the separation rules would apply in that case. In addition no customer to whom the limitations are repellent will want to do business with them. If employees of contracting businesses are placed in HL against their wishes they can claim unlawful discrimination.
    That’s a lot of customers they are going to lose so their convictions must be strong. As a private company they do not even have to answer to outside shareholders so the chances of bringing any further pressure are minimal.
    If you look at your insurance policies you will see that a lot of possible occurrences are not covered anyway so, to some extent there is nothing unusual about this story. Shop around for your insurance.

    “Kristina Arriaga is executive director of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the legal group representing the Hobby Lobby owners.” I wonder whether she is willing to take her convictions as far as Thomas Becket did.

  2. L.Long says:

    Lets see. Corporations are made up of 1%-er Aholes who don’t give a shit about us or the constitution. The SCOTUS is made up of 1%-ers or those paid off by 1%-ers, and we are surprised by their Ahole decision. Why??
    I’ve always hated the idea that a corp is a ‘person’ which was obviously ridiculous. Between the HoobyLabby and Walmart we are just heading down hill faster, I worry for my G’Kids….I’m going to recommend they become lawyers or doctors or dentists….everyone needs one of them sooner or later and the job can’t be exported to India.

  3. Trevor Blake says:

    Hosana to the highest! Thank God the courts have recognized no man shall end a pregnancy. That is a pleasure God reserves for Himself.

    “Yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb.” – Hosea 9:16

    Hooray for God, slayer of fetuses.

  4. charlie says:

    This is just a prime example of how goddamn LOW my country, the US of A, has stooped to. They first gave “personhood” to corporations, then allowed them to basically buy elections via the “Citizens United” court decision which allows these multinationals to spend unlimited amounts of money on any election. Now these newly minted “people” aka; corporations have been granted “religious rights”. The level of STUPID in what I have been calling ‘Merikkka for many years now is obscene. The nine “supremes” are among the most idiotic. clueless, brain dead asshats to occupy space on this planet.
    As this country goes further down the sewer to being a total full time surveillance, police state, the rich get richer, the religious nut balls, at least if they are some flavor of xtian get more power and the working class gets screwed. I wonder how much more of this absolute shit the people will take. Maybe they will just sit on their damn sofas, stare at the “reality” TV shows and suck down more fattening junk food. All fat and happy in their ever increasing ignorance and stupidity.
    America, where are you now? Don’t you care about your sons and daughters? Apparently not, it certain the nine “supremes” do not give a flying fuck in hell. Damn them!

  5. Robster says:

    That Hobby Lobby mob need to change their name now to reflect their win in the court. How about “Holy Lobby” or “Hallelujah Lobby” or something to scare all reasonable people from spending their cash at the business. They sell nick-knacks and as there’s lots of other retailers offering this stuff, probably cheaper, with a bit of fight back from the forces of good (us) their business will/could fall into a fiscal hole. Will a boycott of this lot be organized?

  6. Ex Patriot says:

    Again religion pokes it’s ugly head into the private lives of people, and shows what misogynistic entity it is, with the help of 5 old goats who evidently also don’t think women should have the right to decide about their own bodies. As far as h.l is concerned I have never done business with them and never will.

  7. Brian Jordan says:

    Anyone would think these people were objecting to having to prescribe the pills, or even administer them. But no, it’s just money they’re winging about. Have these fundamentalist Christians forgotten about “Render unto Caesar”? “Render unto Obama” doesn’t have the quite the same ring about it, admittedly, but the principle is the same.

  8. barriejohn says:

    Charlie: Spot on!

  9. barriejohn says:

    I love that placard: “Your boss CAN be your DOCTOR!”, as it sums this up perfectly. This is 1984 again, yet paradoxically the right wing see things in reverse. To them, Obama is a “communist” imposing state control on people’s lives, whereas liberals would see him as attempting to give working class people more security and liberty. This decision really only empowers the ruling elite in America.

  10. Norman Paterson says:

    I don’t really understand why health insurance is tied up with employment. Historical reasons, I guess, like the Gordian Knot of UK taxation. (If only Gordian Brown had cut the knot!)

    Question for US citizens: Is the insurance included in your compensation package (ie it’s part of your pay) taken into account in your income tax liability? For example if you get $100 worth of insurance per month, do you have to pay tax on the $100? (You would, in the UK: all that you receive is taxed, whether it is received in cash or in kind. The Inland Revenue has rules for working out the cash equivalent of everything.)

    The point is, if it *is* taxed, then would it not be simpler to just receive the cash and buy your own insurance?

  11. tom says:

    I have an idea, lets hold up signs outside all the HL stores of children who are striving, beaten, used and deprived. And so on. We can yell at the customers just like they yell at woman going into planed parenthood. Also we don’t have to worry about line being drawn because the courts said we can stand any where we want and yell and belittle everyone who enters the store.

  12. charlie says:

    @Norman Paterson,
    In my working life I was never taxed for any insurance provided by any company I worked for. Health insurance was considered a benefit and was not part of my hourly wages. We could opt out for the most part. Coverage for wife and kids was optional at every place I worked.
    My wife, who was a registered nurse, had much better health insurance than the one place I worked at. I did not include her on my policy from work and she DID put me on hers. I was unable to opt out totally from the insurance at the company I was working for then, the boss said it was legal for me to do so, but the amount of paperwork required, well, he was a damn good guy and his wife ran the office so I just let it go, it cost me nothing to keep it, but I did think he’d save a bit by not including me. I found out later, his wife told me the savings would be very small and again, all the damn paperwork.
    Health insurance in the US of A, my opinion, is ONLY for the benefit of the insurance companies, never the employee or policy holder. This country has long needed a true national health care system, but I will not live to see that day now, I am 66 and have lost any hope of seeing a real national health care system here in my life time. I have no idea how this insurance works for currently employed folks, retired, due to disability years ago. NEVER injure your spine, it is a life time of chronic pain with very minimal relief.
    Sorry if this is overly long. I’ll try and keep future comments shorter.
    p.s. Thanks for the positive vote barriejohn, much appreciated. What passes as “my” country, ‘Merikkka is NOT the one we learned about way back in the dim, distant past of my high school civics class. Yes, 1965 is a long time ago, but, like the damn Vietnam war I went to, the memories keep on going and going. One song I like has a line; memories are like star light, they go on forever. Yes, they do, even the bad ones.

  13. barriejohn says:

    We’re all “bigots”.

    Bill Donohue notes the reaction of bigots to the Hobby Lobby case:

    http://www.catholicleague.org/many-catholics-bench/

  14. […] are huge implications in how the Supreme Court […]

  15. Norman Paterson says:

    I just had a look at the Catholic League page …. the first thing to hit me was the list of annual reports, dated from 1994 to 2013, all titled “REPORT ON ANTI-CATHOLICISM.” Paranoia or what?

    To summarise the article, Bill Donohue notes that the Supreme Court decision was won by an “all-Catholic, all-male, all-ultra-conservative majority of five.” Bill goes on to resurrect the question of whether people whose allegiance is to the Pope can be trusted to act in the interests of the American people. (Picture of President Kennedy kneeling [?] before the Pope of the day.) Instead of addressing this question, the article mocks it and distracts attention by pointing out that Jews have an even more disproportionate representation on the high court [what that? – NP] than Catholics do, so … it’s not clear so what.

    The Mission Statement of the Catholic League, summarised to give the general idea:

    When slanderous assaults […]
    When Catholics are the victims […]
    When Catholic students or employees are denied their rights […]
    When the religious freedom rights of any American are threatened […]
    When Catholics are slighted by public officials […]
    When Catholic interests are unfairly represented […]
    When officials in government, the media and education need an informed perspective on Catholic civil rights issues […]

    So there you have it!