Monday, June 30, 2014

Judgment Day – Updated

Today is the day that the Supreme Court will hand down two very important rulings.

The Hobby Lobby case will decide if for-profit companies can claim a religious exemption for health insurance coverage they say makes the Baby Jesus cry.

The challenge was brought by the Southern Baptist owners of Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts chain, and the Mennonite owners of Conestoga Wood, a cabinet maker. Both sued for relief from a mandate under Obamacare that profit-making businesses include emergency contraceptives for female employees in their insurance plans at no extra cost. They said the requirement to cover contraceptives like Plan B and Ella violates their religious liberty.

The Court is also set to rule on whether or not public employee unions can basically survive.

The case, Harris v. Quinn, is about the constitutionality of “agency fees” charged by public sector unions to all workers in a unionized setting, even non-union members. These fees are essential to their operation.

The Hobby Lobby case isn’t so much about religious freedom as it is about control.  The healthcare law does not require the employers to pay for their workers’ birth control; it allows the employees to avail themselves of contraception at no extra cost.  But somehow the family that owns Hobby Lobby sees that as the road to the abortion clinic and objects to what their employees can do with their own insurance.

If the Court rule in favor of Hobby Lobby, it could set the stage for any company to claim a religious exemption as the reason for doing anything they want to their employees, including denying benefits to couples — same sex or otherwise — if they’re not in keeping with their personal religious beliefs.

In the case of the public unions, the Court will decide if people who benefit from the unions without having to belong to them should pay a fee for those benefits.  If they don’t, then the unions could go broke.  That’s not something this Court, with its apparent love for the corporate manifest destiny, seems to be too concerned about.

Stay tuned; I’ll try to update the rulings as they come in.

UPDATE: The Court narrowly held for Hobby Lobby in a 5-4 decision, saying that “closely-held” corporations can opt out of contraception coverage based on religious grounds.  Stand by for a bunch of corporations becoming “closely-held.”  All the Republican-appointed justices — who happen to be men — decided for Hobby Lobby; the four appointed by Democrats voted against it, with some powerful dissenting opinions.

In the public union case, the Court ruled that non-union employees can’t be forced to pay fees to the union.

PS: Any guesses on who might be retiring from the Court after this term?  Ginsburg?  Scalia (if only)?

9 barks and woofs on “Judgment Day – Updated

  1. Well, this country is screwed. Fascism-when corporations run the government. If RWs gain control of Congress and the Presidency, this won’t be America anymore. We’ve got to fight back.

  2. As a former, now retired, member of a public union it always bothered me that non-dues paying people benefited from the bargaining done by the union paid for with my dues. Although I know this was not part of the suit it would have been nice if they ruled that they didn’t have to pay dues, and at the same time they wouldn’t benefit from union negotiated contracts. Let them fight individually for their pay and benefits.

  3. Correction to the union case: as I read the summary just now those exempted from paying union dues are PART-TIME public employees. It seems this ruling doesn’t gut the life out of public employee unions as we’d feared. They sort of split the baby in half.

    The fact that the health care decision only applies to family owned companies, not publicly traded ones is faint solace to female employees who are trying to keep from getting pregnant. Let’s hope the boycott of Hobby Lobby begins and widens …. and improves “Michael’s” bottom line.

  4. These two decisions basically took my last shred of hope; it seems a Republican dominated Court will do anything at all to spite the Obama Administration, no matter how much it screws American citizens…and of course, it seems women hardly count as human.

    I have to step away from the news and my computer and go melt beeswax now, before my head makes movie time “cherry pie” on the walls…

  5. You notice not one woman on the Supreme Court voted for this Hobby Lobby judgement. Why is it that the men on the Supreme Court think it is okay for employers to decide what they will cover on women’s health care? Well, for one, they have NEVER had to worry about getting pregnant. I am going to start ranting, so instead I will shut up.

    • Just wait a while, soon compabies all over the US will have found religion, actually, they probably will find some custom made religion that makes it a sin to help sick/poorhandicapped/pregnant(esp. non-married) people, be against vaccinate people aso..

      (sounds impossible? Check out the larger TV-evangelists, they already worship ca$h, why not companies?) And domt forget, even crappy, ca$h worshipping modern religions ate tax-extempt, why not companies “faith”?

  6. Apparently 90 percent of existing corporations are considered “closely-held” so we’re already at that point. To be fair a good number of companies are not about to do anything that would upset their employees… but the ones that are discernibly far right in their political leanings are going to do so just to screw “socialist Obamacare”.

    As for the union ruling, it’s just another “death by a thousand cuts.” While it doesn’t gut unions altogether, it merely sets the stage for the next argument against unions to be filed down the road. I’d worry less about how the courts rule and worry more about getting pro-union elected officials back into office so they can pass meaningful pro-union reforms and get rid of these “right to work minimum-wage” state laws…

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