Brigitte Amiri of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project was at the Supreme Court for the Hobby Lobby arguments and blogs about it for the ACLU.
…my heart fell as I watched the attorneys for the parties take their seats. There wasn’t a single woman. Not a single person of color. Although it was great that the government sent their top lawyer to defend the case, it was disheartening to see no women at counsel’s table for either party, especially because the case involves women’s access to contraception. How can that be in 2014?
How indeed. The case involves women’s access to contraception.
But then she cheered up.
Right out of the box, the female justices asked question after question that tested the limits of Hobby Lobby’s argument that religious liberty should trump the contraception rule. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor asked intelligent and pointed questions that demonstrated the fallacy of the companies’ arguments. They asked whether every employer that had a religious objection to any type of health care should get to pick and choose what to offer in health plans, despite the Affordable Care Act requirements. They also asked whether employers should be allowed to refuse to comply with anti-discrimination laws or minimum wage laws because of their religious beliefs.
It wasn’t just the women justices who “got it.” Kennedy asked the companies’ attorney about whether Hobby Lobby would be putting its employees in a “disadvantageous position,” and whether “religious beliefs just trump?”
The answer is no. They don’t trump. Everyone has the right to his or her religious beliefs, but those beliefs cannot be used to take away a benefit from someone else or to discriminate against others. That’s exactly what is at stake here. The contraception rule was designed to ensure women’s equality by eliminating the disparities in health care costs between men and women, and to ensure women have the ability to make decisions about whether and when to become parents, which in turns allow them to participate equally in society.
But the believers believe that god doesn’t want women to participate equally in society. They believe that god wants them not to. They believe that god shares their belief that women are altogether smaller and less capable beings, who are good at taking care of children but bad at everything else. For those reasons they want women to be imprisoned in their putative role as mothers (and later, if they have the bad manners not to die as soon as they stop having children, as grandmothers).
They might win.