The consensus among the commetariat about yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling on the Hobby Lobby case seems to be a collective “Well, it could have been worse.”
Yes, the court could have decided that for-profit companies have the same religious rights as a person — much as they did in the Citizens United case, giving free speech rights to corporations — but instead narrowly found that closely-held companies — those that aren’t publicly traded, basically — could, on contraception only, get away with dictating to their employees what kind of birth control they could use. But still telling us that it could have been worse isn’t much consolation, and the ramifications go far beyond just some Christians who don’t know much about IUD’s but know a hell of a lot about minding the way other people spend their money.
There is some good points made by people who know the law trade far better than I do about what this ruling means, including Eric Loomis at LGM and Kate McDonough at Salon. From the latter:
To sum it up, five male justices ruled that thousands of female employees should rightfully be subjected to the whims of their employers. That women can be denied a benefit that they already pay for and is guaranteed by federal law. That contraception is not essential healthcare. That corporations can pray. That the corporate veil can be manipulated to suit the needs of the corporation. That bosses can cynically choose à la carte what laws they want to comply with and which laws they do not. Each specific finding opens a door to a new form of discrimination and unprecedented corporate power. If you think this ruling won’t affect you, you haven’t been paying attention. If you think these corporations are going to stop at birth control, you’re kidding yourself.
(By the way, it should be noted that not just women use birth control. I may be gay, but I do know that men have a part to play in the reproductive process, and their lives can be impacted by making it harder for people to have access to contraception as well. Also, the pill isn’t just for birth control. There are a number of other medical reasons for taking it. That tidbit of news seemed to escape the grasp of Justice Alito et al.)
The Republicans are rejoicing, not just because this is seen as a smackdown for Obamacare and a win for their Religious Reich handlers, but because now they can campaign on preserving the sanctity of corporate faith and family values. Yeah, that will really win with the womenfolk vote. Going into the elections of 2014 and 2016 embracing the morals framed in 19th century era patriarchy will win the day, I’m sure. As Steve Benen notes,
Congratulations, Republicans, you’ve won your big case at the Supreme Court, and positioned yourself this election as the 21st century political party that supports restrictions on contraception access. The party saw a political landmine and decided to do a victory dance on it. We’ll see how this turns out for them.