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Hobby Lobby case before Supreme Court today

Hobby Lobby case before Supreme Court today

UPDATE: Arguments made today at Supreme Court reported by SCOTUSblog

The Hobby Lobby anti-contraceptives case is being heard by the Supreme Court today. Religious leaders who oppose the Hobby Lobby position are speaking out:


Harry Knox, President of Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice says, in Huffington Post, that the Hobby Lobby case should alarm all people of faith. Written with Jill C. Morrison:

… a decision in favor of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties would be rife with the potential for abuse. What court is wise enough to determine whether a corporation claiming to operate according to religious scruples is resisting a law for economic or ideological reasons? What conviction, no matter how baseless, cannot be wrapped in the protective cloak of faith?

An employer granted the rights that the plaintiffs in this case seek could play the determinative role in the most important decisions that individuals make about their health and well-being. Poor people would suffer most in a society in which employers exercise more influence than doctors over health-care decisions, and few would suffer as much as poor women, who would be economically unable to exercise their right to politically contested health services such as contraception, abortion, and infertility treatment.

The attempt to exclude contraceptive care from the Affordable Care Act is another step in asserting that entities — not even individuals but entities — have rights that trump those of women and their families. Women of means can often afford to override incursions on their liberty by paying out of pocket to exercise their right to plan their families. But without the kind of health coverage provided by the ACA, many poor women cannot do so. If the high court rules that corporations have the right to restrict the health coverage they offer to employees on religious grounds, then these women will be de facto denied a right that the courts have said they hold, and that more affluent women exercise every day.

Cheryl Anderson at Religion News Service says the premise behind the Hobby Lobby case is bad theology:

Christians should be looking for ways to extend these benefits to all women and all communities. Cheryl-Anderson-H-3-427x284.jpgAs people who practice a faith that values justice, we must be troubled by the fact that the rate of unplanned pregnancies among poor women is five times higher than it is among women whose incomes are 200 percent or more above the federal poverty level, and we should be moved to help spread the benefits of reproductive health care more broadly. This is what the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act seeks to do. However, its opponents are seeking to poke the mandate so full of holes that the very women who need this coverage most will not receive it.

This is not only poor policy, but also poor theology. Nothing in the Christian tradition requires that we deny poor women health benefits and services that are readily available to the rest of society. Nothing in the Christian tradition suggests that an employer’s scruples deserve greater consideration than an employee’s health. Instead, the words of Jesus warn us against placing heavy burdens on the backs of those least able to bear them.

At USAToday Bishop Gene Robinson writes:

Today, the Supreme Court will hear arguments by Hobby Lobby, a nationwide chain of craft stores, asking the court for the right to discriminate against their employees who are entitled to reproductive health care under the Affordable Care Act. I know that Hobby Lobby’s owner family, the Greens, are deeply religious people, and I respect their beliefs. They object to certain forms of birth control, claiming they constitute abortion (a “fact” disputed by much of the medical community). The Greens claim that corporations, through their owners, have freedom of religion — a very slippery slope. But should the entire company and its 14,000 employees be held hostage by the beliefs of its owners?

Transcripts will be here

Photo courtesy of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill

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Richard III

Just one more attempt by religious fundamentalists to inflict their moral worldview on anyone unlucky enough to be employed by them. And if they could have their way I'm quite certain they would do it to us all.

Richard Warren

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John B. Chilton

And now this from the Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/at-supreme-court-today-health-law-cases-mix-questions-of-religious-freedom-worker-rights/2014/03/25/bf2aa6ce-b3c1-11e3-b899-20667de76985_story.html

"But a majority of the justices seemed to agree that the family-owned businesses that objected to the requirement were covered by a federal statute that gives great protection to the exercise of religion. That would mean the government must show the requirement is not a substantial burden on their religious expression, and that there was no less intrusive way to provide contraceptive coverage to female workers."

This federal statute was championed by Ted Kennedy, passing the Senate 98-0 and signed by Bill Clinton in response to a Supreme Court decision written by Scalia. See:

http://online.wsj.com/news/article_email/SB10001424052702303949704579459770814017940-lMyQjAxMTA0MDIwNDEyNDQyWj

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tgflux

@ Theocrats: Profit or Prophet, CHOOSE ONE.

JC Fisher

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Nick_roosevelt

One more thing...

And as to Robert's question about whether corporations exist purely for profit...the answer is obviously no. Again corporations exist in the context of the laws and the constitution to provide some benefit to the people of the nation. Why would congress enact a law that allowed an entity to be formed or exist if it had no interest in doing so?

Now that interest (of allowing a corporation to exist) can be debated, for good or ill...but congress' interest isn't in the corporation's profit only, but the tax revenues (both corporate and individual) to pay to promote the circumstances under which the corporations and the nation's citizenry exists (security, infrastructure, etc.) and now, under the mandate, to provide for the wellbeing of it's citizenry.

With all due respect that's a really stupid question (or at least equivalent to a "live breaking news" media-hyped way of asking it) and distracts us from the issue at hand.

-Nick Roosevelt

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Nick_roosevelt

So, let me start by saying I know nothing, and...here are some thoughts:

1) It's all in the view of how one looks at an employee of Hobby Lobby. Is Hobby Lobby really "paying" for this or does the employee earn it in through their labor? Should every customer of Hobby Lobby who is "paying" for this vote at check-out? If Hobby Lobby is "paying for it", under that definition, they are still "paying for it" if the person has to purchase coverage or purchase the actual contraceptive themselves....Hobby Lobby is no more or no less off their constructed hook. They would then have to screen potential employees about whether they would use such a drug, which is a major violation of a number of laws when the corporation engages in commerce. Again, the issue for them (the individuals) is largely constructed once you get into the logistics of the corporation's mandate under the law.

2) Again the argument has been made, that such a corporation owned by a tightly knit group of shareholders or a family that held a personal religious belief that they should cover no form of healthcare would still be held up by RFRA if this case is successful. The government's interest is the health and wellbeing of it's population by provisioning through law and regulation for affordable access to medical care and in this case a certain type of medical care that potentially affects millions of women...kind of a compelling interest.

3) The issue is exactly the protection of an individual's freedom, based on his or her own creed (and in the government's compelling interest: ability to pay), to choose the appropriate course of healthcare for themselves. This is the context in which the mandates in the ACA are directed and under congress' power to regulate commerce. In looking at strict scrutiny from RFRA, a) this surpasses regular and routine, deals with a constitutional clause of regulating commerce and b) as some of the justices pointed out (except Breyer, who thought the gov should pay directly) it is a "wash" in cost...the least restrictive way.

4) As for the argument on SCOTUSblog from A. Kennedy, Congress did make the choice and that choice was to give the power to HHS. Whether you agree with Congress decision or not is between you and your representative as a citizen, but its not like Congress didn't make a choice here.

5) Alito raised the issue in arguments that such a corporation might be compelled to provide coverage of abortions for employees. Yes, that could happen if it were a law enacted by the congress...again because the issue is that the corporation only exists in the context of a regulated market, only exists in the context of have been incorporated in our country subject to our laws and constitutional protections. If you want to change those, we have a process for that, but that's the deal if you want to do business here. The same thing is true if congress regulated that every employer had to give an employee a certain buffet option of loaded guns on the first day of work (the employee wouldn't have to take the gun, employee's choice). I would avoid both as a lawmaker...but this is how our current set of laws and constitution function.

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