The American Humanist Association comments

The AHA press release:

“The Supreme Court has placed the religious views of corporate shareholders over the legitimate health care concerns of employees,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “This isn’t religious liberty—it’s religious intrusion that will negatively affect many hard-working Americans.”

By privileging the religious views of corporate owners, the ruling places a substantial burden on women who wish to obtain birth control methods, such as the IUD or morning after pill, the costs of which can be as high as $1,000 annually. The ruling may also spur other for-profit corporations to deny employees access to certain medical procedures, based on their owners’ personal creeds.

“The Supreme Court is endangering the health care of many Americans based on the fictitious idea that a corporation has religious convictions,” said David Niose, legal director of the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “By expanding the rights of corporations, this court is in fact contracting the rights of hard-working Americans who expect full health care coverage as required by law. ”

In January, the American Humanist Association, with other secular and humanist organizations, signed on to an amicus curiae brief in support of the government that argued a ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods would violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Along with everything else this is of course yet another reason we should have a national health service instead of this nightmare of chaos that we do have.


  1. Blanche Quizno says

    Remember the Defense of Marriage Act, designed specifically to prohibit same-sex couples from marrying? Remember Prop. 8 which, with much Christian – and especially Mormon – money of questionable legality, passed in California? Remember how dire things looked for marriage equality – for a while?

    Now, marriage equality is surging toward becoming the law of the land. Those Acts and Propositions provided platforms where the affected couples could bring suits that ultimately led to favorable rulings.

    I realize this was a Supreme Court ruling, but even that can be chipped away, especially when the precedent it has set will predictably result in even more infringements upon employee rights. Who knows? This may be exactly the catalyst needed to revive unions and collective bargaining, long under attack and struggling to survive right now. This may be yet another nail in Christianity’s coffin, as more and more people become outraged at Christians demanding such privilege and demonstrating just how entitled they are in our society. Imagine MUSLIM company owners demanding the same accommodation for some Islamic belief! In fact, that’s likely to be next in line as a demand for religious entitlement.

    And with any luck, the makeup of the Supreme Court will change in a more rational direction at some point, hopefully soon.

  2. Blanche Quizno says

    I can’t understand why Justice Scalia is not required to recuse himself, given that his own WIFE sat on the board of the so-called “crisis pregnancy organization” The Nurturing Network, an anti-abortion organization, and who promotes herself as a “crisis pregnancy counselor.” Mrs. Scalia is quite possibly one of those who accost women approaching abortion clinics and try to talk them out of getting the abortions they need.

    Justice Scalia’s wife, Maureen Scalia, is a “Pro-Life Advocate” who, until last Monday afternoon, was listed on its website as a board member of the Nurturing Network, a crisis pregnancy organization. In an email to Salon, Ann Granger, director of communication for the Nurturing Network, stated that Maureen Scalia is a past board member of TNN, but no longer on its board. Granger also stated that she would let the webmaster know to update this information. Soon after, Maureen Scalia vanished from TNN’s current Board of Directors page. Her TNN profile page is still live, as well.

    There’s more.

    According to its website prior to being updated on Monday afternoon, Maureen Scalia is a board member of the Nurturing Network as well as a “Crisis Pregnancy Counselor” at Hope in Northern Virginia, a crisis pregnancy center located in Falls Church, Va.

    When asked if Maureen Scalia is currently a counselor with Hope in Northern Virginia, a spokesperson for the CPC told Salon, “I can neither confirm nor deny that.”

    The cache page that used to show Maureen Scalia on the board of The Nurturing Network has now disappeared, and only the updated page from last week is accessible. Here, though, she acknowledges her position on the board of anti-abortion organization The Nurturing Network:

    Maureen Scalia
    Crisis Pregnancy Counselor
    Pro-Life Advocate

    “I have been moved by the courage of so many who in their loneliness struggle to protect the life they nurture within. Serving on the Board of the Nurturing Network is the culmination of my experience in working to protect and defend life.”

    Maureen McCarthy Scalia was born in Boston, and grew up and attended school in Braintree, Massachusetts. At the age of 20, while a student at Radcliffe College, she was introduced to an interesting law student from Harvard University. Antonin Scalia and Maureen were married after their graduations in 1960.

    Through the years since, they have been partners in raising their nine children, and now enjoy the richness of grandchildren, soon to number 27. With her major commitment to family, Maureen has given her time to many volunteer activities, including working with handicapped children, teaching religious education at her parish in Great Falls, Virginia, and supporting her children’s schools. The most important and meaningful to her has been her work with Hope in Northern Virginia, a crisis pregnancy center.

    For twenty years Maureen has worked with pregnant women, first serving as a telephone volunteer, where she learned to hear the grief behind the statement “I need an abortion.” While serving as Associate Director she has helped shape the policy of this organization as it focuses upon the mother in her time of need. Currently, she supervises all the cases that come with needs financial, emotional, medical and legal. “I have been moved by the courage of so many who in their loneliness struggle to protect the life they nurture within. To bring this experience to the Nurturing Network is a privilege for me.”

    Maureen Scalia admits that she has served as “Associate Director” of anti-abortion organization “Hope in Northern Virginia”, apparently, if I’m reading that right. So WHY is her husband sitting there ruling on policy that affects his own WIFE’s employment??

    Surely there must be some legal action that results in removing a justice who repeatedly compromises the court’s integrity in such a unethical manner.

  3. thephilosophicalprimate says

    I wish people would quit talking about this case in terms of “corporate rights” and “corporate personhood” and the like. That’s a red herring. The decision prominently mentions the legal relevance of the fact that Hobby Lobby (and the other plaintiffs) are “closely held corporations” — that is, owned by a small number of shareholders rather than being publicly traded companies — and the decision was rationalized (I won’t dignify it with the word “justified”) on the basis that it protects the religious liberty OF THOSE INDIVIDUAL PERSONS. Yes, those persons own a company, but the rights at stake were the rights of the owners as persons, and religious rights were not in any way imputed to any corporation.

    Here’s how the Hobby Lobby case reasoning works: The owners of Hobby Lobby claim, based on the language of the (misleadingly named, unnecessary, and poorly written) Religious Freedom Restoration Act, that the ACA’s requirement that all employers (above a certain size) pay some of the costs of comprehensive health coverage “substantially burdens” their religious liberty. How, exactly? Because comprehensive health insurance coverage includes contraception, and they don’t like contraception — because religion.

    Now surely the owners of Hobby Lobby et al have a right to that religious opinion as individual people, and I’ll readily grant that the government would be unduly burdening their religious liberty if it were forcing them to use or purchase contraception. But it’s not quite so obvious that there is any encroachment on religious liberty in forcing them to pay for comprehensive health coverage for their employees. In fact, it’s the opposite of obvious. It’s downright obscure why anyone would think so.

    How is paying for their employees’ insurance coverage — which employees may or may not use to acquire contraception — any different from paying their employees’ salaries, which employees also may or may not use to acquire contraception (or any of a number of other things that their employers might find disagreeable for religious reasons)? Yes, there is a purely practical difference that contraception can be expensive, but surely there is no difference in principle. To claim that a burden has been imposed on one’s liberty logically requires that one actually has some genuine right at stake — and employers have no legal or moral right to restrict, coerce, or influence in any way the private medical decisions of their employees any more than they have a right to tell their employees how to spend their paychecks. The claim that the employers in this case have any religious liberty that is being burdened in any way, “substantial” or not, is flatly ludicrous. (But, I repeat, that claim is not based on any notion that corporations as legal persons now have religious freedom to go along with their (mistakenly, foolishly, unjustifiably granted) freedom of speech.)

    If anything, the religious liberty of *employees* is very substantially burdened by this decision, because it allows employers to arbitrarily limit employees’ access to health care and thereby impose their own private religious convictions on employees who may not (and probably do not) share them. But the primary burden here is on employees’ right to equality before the law: All people employed at companies above a certain size have a right to an employer-subsidized comprehensive insurance plan under the ACA — except now they don’t, if they have the misfortune of being employed by a privately-owned company whose owners claim they have a religious aversion to some perfectly ordinary health care option which comprehensive insurance plans are required to provide by law. This result is discriminatory on the face of it, even without the additional discrimination that MEN’S health care never seems to be an issue for anyone’s religious convictions.

    For my part, I’m convinced that any time religious liberty clashes with equality before the law, the latter is a more fundamental moral and constitutional principle that ought to prevail. (Exceptions welcome, but I can’t think of any. And this is really why I think the RFRA is constitutionally unsound law, because it subordinates other constitutionally-guaranteed liberties to religious liberty.) But never mind that, because there is no plausible argument to be made that the comprehensive insurance coverage requirement of the ACA (which includes contraception, simply because it IS basic health care) imposes a “substantial burden” on the religious liberty of employers: Employers simply do not have any right — based in religious liberty or any other constitutional or legal principle — to make health care decisions (or any other personal or financial decisions) for their employees, so that right cannot be encroached on by the ACA or any other law.

    So why did the five-MAN majority of the SCOTUS offer downright silly legal rationalizations in support of the rationally and legally insupportable claim that employers have some religious liberty that is substantially burdened by being required to provide comprehensive insurance coverage (including icky, icky contraceptive care) to employees? Because five white Catholic men are ideologically predisposed to dislike women in general and contraception in particular. And because those same men are willing tools of the plutocracy who always show a clear preference for expanding the power of employers over the protecting the rights of employees.


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