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Jul 14 2014

The Pandora’s box of Hobby Lobby

While the majority opinion in the Hobby Lobby case argued that it was a limited decision affecting a narrow class of companies, it seems to be part of a general strategy of the US Supreme Court to slowly but steadily encroach on the rights or women and workers for the benefit of corporations.

Peter Moscowitz argues that the Hobby Lobby ruling could lead the way to further kinds of discrimination.

Some effects of the Supreme Court’s decision on Monday in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores will be relatively immediate: Women who work at companies with owners who decide it’s against their religious beliefs to provide birth control will lose free or cheap access to contraceptives such as the Plan B pill, IUDs and, potentially, condoms, as well as the most popular pill form of birth control.

But other consequences of the Hobby Lobby decision could take years to pan out, and they would affect not only contraceptives but also various women’s rights as well as LGBT rights and the rights of the disabled.

Alito also insisted that the RFRA would likely be applied only to cases similar to Hobby Lobby, in which birth control is the main factor in religious objection. But some point out that his decision doesn’t explicitly prevent the RFRA from being used for other forms of opting out.

“He said that this case can’t be used for race discrimination, but there’s a whole lot that he didn’t say,” said Ian Millhiser, a constitutional policy analyst at the Center for American Progress. “What about gender? What about sexual orientation? As an objective matter, this is a very broad opinion.”

On the other hand, lawyers for some prisoners at Guantanamo have seized on the same ruling to sue the government, arguing that restrictions on them taking part in communal prayers are a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the basis for the Hobby Lobby ruling.

8 comments

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  1. 1
    Crimson Clupeidae

    I really hope a muslim employer tries to prevent his employees from buying pork soon……

    I mean, I’d feel bad for that employee, but I want to watch the nutters’ heads assploding all over the interwebs.

  2. 2
    mastmaker

    I have given it more thought. This ruling (and this SCOTUS) does not allow companies to control purchasing habits of employees. Not yet, anyway.

    I work for a muslim employer (and a ‘closely held’ company, to boot). I was wondering whether I can ask him to stop our health insurance to stop covering cirrhosis of lever as it is caused by alcohol, prohibited by Islam. Do you think that is enough to open Pandora’s box? Suggestions are welcome. However, we are a small company, and cannot afford to ‘litigate’ heavily. So, our actions are limited only to shock value, and not to actual fight up to SCOTUS.

  3. 3
    mastmaker

    * ask him to stop our health insurance to stop>from covering……

    ->FTB admin: I wish you allowed a edit button!

  4. 4
    keithb

    mastmaker:
    There are other causes of cirrhosis, Hepatitis for one.

  5. 5
    Sunday Afternoon

    @keithb – I think mastmaker’s point still stands. There are other reasons for women to take contraception besides preventing pregnancy.

  6. 6
    Jackson

    I’m still confused as to how this was ever a burden on their religious conscience. They are removed from the purchase of contraception to the same degree either way.

    Employer -> Employee -> Contraception

    Employer -> Insurance Company -> Contraception

  7. 7
    leni

    Employer -> Employee -> Contraception

    And they are still paying taxes, presumably.

    Taxpayer -> Government-> Contraception.

    And don’t be confused Jackson. It’s because religious people feel things more sincerely than the rest of us. Obviously that deserves an exemption from laws everyone else has to obey. When it’s about women.

  8. 8
    Who Cares

    Reminds me a bit of what happened in one of the states that make up Germany. They banned headscarves in schools if used for religious purposes. People sort of flipped out when this was then applied to nuns who teach.

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