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Goofball Roberts Court rules corporations can excercise religious liberty in Hobby Lobby case

How do they do that? Infant baptism? Adult baptism? Prayer groups? Damascene conversion? Reuters:

The justices ruled for the first time that for-profit companies can make claims under a 1993 federal law called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

From the full text of the opinion:

In these cases, the owners of three closely held for-profit corporations 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. ...

HHS argues that the companies cannot sue because they are for-profit corporations, and that the owners cannot sue because the regulations apply only to the companies, but that would leave merchants with a difficult choice: give up the right to seek judicial protection of their religious liberty or forgo the benefits of operating as corporations. RFRA’s text shows that Congress designed the statute to provide very broad protection for religious liberty and did not intend to put merchants to such a choice. It employed the familiar legal fiction of including corporations within RFRA’s definition of “persons,” but the purpose of extending rights to corporations is to protect the rights of people associated with the corporation, including shareholders, officers, and employees. Protecting the free-exercise rights of closely held corporations thus protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control them.

Leave aside the court's curious theology that the practice of religion should not involve any "difficult choice."

And leave aside even weirder idea that giving rights to fictional persons protects the rights of the humans "who own and control them." After all, if there's a coherent case to be made for the rights, why not simply confer them on humans? Where is the value add of the fictional intermediary?

I think the real sleight of hand comes with this phrase:

.... [It] would violate their religion to facilitate access to contraceptive drugs or devices that operate after that point. ...

Has the court never heard of Matthew 2:20-22?

And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

21 They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.

22 When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left him, and went their way.

What the court is really saying is that contraception is not in Caesar's domain; else they would tell the owners of Hobby Lobby that their religion has forced a "difficult choice" on them; Bader's dissent gives plenty of justification for that. After all, if contraception were in Caesar's domain, then the owners of Hobby Lobby wouldn't be "facilitating access" at all; it's a matter for the state, the whole way. [1]

So, the owners of Hobby Lobby now get to express their religious views by controlling women's bodies. One wonders what next? Bader's dissent:

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 owner's relgious faith -- in these cases, thousands of women employed by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga or dependents those corporations employ. ...

The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would override significant interests of the corporations' employees and covered dependents. It would deny legions of women who do not hold their employers' beliefs access to contraceptive coverage that the ACA would otherwise secure. ... In sum, with respect to free exercise claims no less than free speech claims, "[y]our right to swing your arms ends just where the other man's nose begins."

C'mon, let's be fair. This case is about a man's right to swing his dick where another woman's body begins (in his mind; and ends). That's all it is.

Goofball decisions like this are one more reason I believe that no Supreme Court decision is legitimate after the first post-Bush v. Gore "justice" was placed on the Court. All jurisprudence should be rolled back to a point before Scalia, in what looks retrospectively like the culmination of a coup d'etat, selected a President who would choose justices who shared his views.

If these people were worthy of my hatred, I'd hate them.

UPDATE [1] Looks like I doped out the key point this morning. From Scotusblog, this afternoon:

[A]s the federal government interprets the Affordable Care Act, it includes mandatory coverage in employee health plans of sixteen different forms of medical care related to child-bearing, or its prevention. In Monday’s decision, profit-making businesses that are owned only by a family or other closely allied individuals (or by a family trust) have a legal right under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act not to be forced to include four specific forms of birth control in their workers’ plan.

But, as both Justice Alito and Justice Kennedy pointed out, the government has fashioned an alternative way to assure such coverage. Rather than making the owners pay for the coverage to which they object for religious reasons, the employee benefit plan itself — that is, the insurance company or the internal plan administrator — has to take on the obligation, and provide the coverage to the female workers, free of charge.

Either this “middle man” has to absorb the cost itself (the owners can’t be required to put up the money), or it will get a government subsidy to help cover the cost.

Is that enough of an accommodation of the owners’ religious objection? The two key opinions on Monday seemed, literally speaking, to say it was.

Justice Alito wrote: ”An approach of this type . . . does not impinge on the [companies' or owners'] belief that providing insurance coverage for the contraceptives at issue here violates their religion, and it serves [the government's] stated interests equally well.” (The government’s interest here is to assure that women have access to the birth-control services.)

Alito’s opinion for the Court went on, saying that the dissenters’ on Monday had identified “no reason why this accommodation would fail to protect the asserted needs of women as effectively as the contraceptive mandate, and there is none.”

Justice Kennedy, in his separate concurring opinion, made the same point. And, in fact, he was more emphatic. Taking note of the “existing accommodation the government has designed, identified, and used for circumstances closely parallel to those presented here,” Kennedy said flatly that “RFRA [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act] requires the government to use this less restrictive means.” ....

But that may not be the end of the matter. An issue that was not directly before the Court (although the Alito opinion made a couple of passing mentions of it) is directly tied up with how the accommodation the two Justices discussed actually will work.

To take advantage of the exemption, a closely held company owned by religiously devout individuals must file a form, specified by the government, in order to trigger the legal duty of the “middle man” to provide the coverage as a stand-in for the company or its owners.

So, can the Hobby Lobby owners be forced to file the form? How does that not "facilitate access" to contraception? The whackjobs in the majority on the Roberts Court seem to say filing the form is an "accpommodation," but the logic of their own views argues strongly to the contrary.

Federal government lawyers have made it clear in court, over and over again, that the “middle man” will not have any authority to step in unless the company or its owners file that government form claiming an exemption for the mandate.

The owners must sign that form contraceptive coverage to be granted. That is, they must "facilitate access." But that is exactly what the Roberts Court has said they do not need to do.

Some whose religions tell them to have nothing to do with some forms of birth control (often on the premise that they amount to a form of abortion) believe that even the filing of that formal declaration is itself an act of participation in the provision of those very services for people on their payroll. The form sets in motion, this argument goes, the entire process that results in birth control being made available to the workers for free.

And they are correct!

It seems highly unlikely that the organizations seeking this accommodation to the accommodation will be satisfied to accept what the Court said literally on Monday, and giving up further legal challenges because of that. Since that was not directly at issue, they would have a quite strong argument that, whatever the Court did say on the point, it actually remains unresolved.

Good one, whack jobs.

Either the Court tells Hobby Lobby to render to Caesar, or it doesn't. That's the key issue, and Hobby Lobby's next move will be to challenge the "middleman" and argue they don't have to sign the form. If you accept the premises of the Roberts Court in this decision, they should win.

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paintedjaguar's picture
Submitted by paintedjaguar on

Coup d'etat? Yes of course. How could any reasonable person think otherwise? And let's not forget the part where a bunch of brownshirt thugs interrupted the Florida vote count. Or the barring of many perfectly legitimate voters from the polls. Or the open corruption of the Florida State officials involved. And the probable tampering with voting machines.

All this and what do you hear in the aftermath? Crickets. Cynical as I am, I'm still in cognitive shock from the way all that happened without any real fuss (It Can't Happen Here). Then on top of that, Dem true-believers still want to run the lesser evil Supreme Court scam every election cycle. Tell me, just how and by whom did these right wing a-holes get confirmed? Anybody?

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

Public approval ratings of the Supreme Court are now down to 29%. They are quickly rendering themselves illegitimate. For a branch of government without access to the power of force, they may soon find themselves in a position where their "opinions" lack the force of law...unless it be provided by other branches...

Of course, that could also be said for the two other branches at 30 and 7 percent approval. However, in their cases, it probably is not surprising that the Pentagon is now funding studies on how to recognize imminent social rebellion, its' effects upon the status quo and the means necessary to combat it. Or, even that the police have now been fully militarized. Perhaps the otherwise incomprehensible free ride the NRA has been given to push radical new gun laws has, sub rosa, just been to provide a means, an excuse, for the popular imposition of martial law at some point? Useful idiots? New Orleans had a taste of that during Katrina, I wonder that no one else in the main stream took notice of it at the time. In any event, they cannot say that they were not warned what a corporate state would look like.

The movie "Brazil" immediately leaps to mind.

Or I just may need more tin foil.

Submitted by Dromaius on

I've been reading that the Obama Administration will offer an administrative fix so that the women in question won't lose the benefits if they want them.

Personally, I think any mandated insurance coverage should be paid for directly by the government. What they've done with these mandates is made insurance premiums unaffordable so that people like me now have no insurance at all. Anything that transfers the mandates to the government and hopefully eventually results in lower premiums is good in my opinion. Bring on the lawsuits.

albrt's picture
Submitted by albrt on

Kos says the Hobby Lobby decision will goose turnout and help Democrats appeal to women because it is such a great example of how different the parties are, and anyone who thinks otherwise is "a fucking moron who can simply go to hell."

Interesting choice of examples. The RFRA was introduced by Chuck Schumer, passed by both houses with overwhelming bipartisan majorities, and was signed by Bill Clinton. An excellent demonstration of how different the two parties are.

Clearly, electing Democrats to congress is the way to avoid these problems.

jo6pac's picture
Submitted by jo6pac on

so confused the hopey and changey guy F$$$$$ over. That's so special coming the demodogs potus, Doomed the serfs and yes I'm one

BruceMcF's picture
Submitted by BruceMcF on

"I and I know dem fundie crazy people own I and I, but dem arrogant to lie about meh religion. I and I Rastafarian, all blessing to de Lion of Judah, and sista working fa Hobby Lobby own dem own body as Temples of Holiness, and it not fi I and I crazy owners ta regulate dem in dem own bodies. Yes, aye."