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#1 SteveT

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Posted 01 July 2014 - 10:19 PM

So I'm angry.  I was going to post a summary here, but people either already know or can look it up themselves.  I think the Supreme Court made the wrong call on a lot of levels and this is going to have some very unpleasant consequences.

 

-Up until yesterday, corporations and their owners were completely separate entities from a legal perspective.  When the owners took action (such as paying for health insurance plans), they were acting as agents of the Corporation, not themselves.  Now, not only do corporations share the same religious beliefs as their owners, but owners can claim that laws on corporations are aimed at them personally.  So do we still have the corporate veil or not?  Because I have a feeling that bankers and CEOs aren't going to start going to jail after this ruling.

 

-In the same breath, corporate freedom of religion came into existence and was granted a higher legal standing than freedom of religion for actual humans.  Corporations have stronger rights than women.

 

-It opened the door for companies to contest any law they want on the basis on freedom of religion.  Recall that some branches of conservative Christianity hold that humans can't be the cause of global warming because only God has the power to destroy the world.  Recall that people used religious arguments to support slavery and segregation.  The  Supreme Court opened the door to a big pile of lawsuits.  

 

-Hobby Lobby's obvious hypocrisy in refusing to cover female birth control while being perfectly happy to cover Viagra and vasectomies.

 

-At least one of the contraceptives in question, Plan B, has been determined to prevent conception.  Previously, it was thought to prevent implantation.  Hobby Lobby apparently never got the memo and considers Plan B to be an abortifacient 

 

.  And the Supreme Court went along with it.  In other words, the Supreme Court ruled that religious beliefs are more compelling than science in the court of law.

 

-The ruling wasn't limited to abortifacient 

 

anyway.

 

-The Supreme Court suggested that the government pay for these contraceptives if they want women to have them so bad.  So anyone who pays taxes, which I assume includes the owners of Hobby Lobby, will be paying for them anyway.

 

-Somehow, female-specific health care continues to be considered a special case as far as laws are concerned.

 

-The wording of the ruling gives special status to certain flavors of Christianity when it pointed out that they don't intend for this ruling to mean it's ok to deny vaccines or antidepressants on health plans.

 

And of course, Fox News is framing the opposition to the ruling as slutty women complaining that their employers won't subsidize their whoring around town.  I don't think they see what kind of far-reaching consequences this ruling has (or the full list of reasons why a woman may be on birth control).


Edited by SteveT, 03 July 2014 - 09:45 AM.


#2 wisp

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Posted 01 July 2014 - 11:14 PM

My quality of life from menarche all the way up until I had my hysterectomy was compromised because of a health problem that only got worse as I got older. If I hadn't been able to start taking birth control when I was 19 I would have been almost entirely disabled through most of college and a few years after. This ruling makes me so angry I can actually feel my face getting hot.



#3 Twinrova

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Posted 02 July 2014 - 07:35 AM

So is this super final? Or if there's enough of a backlash can we reverse this decision? I'm not very familiar with this whole process but I'm mad as hell that all of our progress over the years is slowly but surely being undone by right-wing nutjobs who are hell bent on bringing this country back to the dark ages.

Edited by Twinrova, 02 July 2014 - 08:01 AM.


#4 Twinrova

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Posted 02 July 2014 - 07:59 AM

Grr dumb phone.

Edited by Twinrova, 02 July 2014 - 08:01 AM.


#5 Egann

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Posted 02 July 2014 - 11:23 AM

I am amazed at how people make mountains out of mole hills while missing the point.

 

The issue is basically that this was a catch-22. If the court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, then women would not get contraceptives covered by their insurance. That's not good, of course, but contraceptives are reasonably affordable.

 

If, however, they had ruled AGAINST Hobby Lobby, think of the consequences. Hobby Lobby's defense was built on a law the House literally passed unanimously in 1993. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act said essentially that religious freedom is important in America and protected religious freedom for things like smoking peyote, which are normally illegal. It's possible to pass laws controlling them, but only through congress.

 

Fast foward to present day. The "law" here mandating employers to provide contraception is actually an executive order which steps on religious freedom. Allowing it to stand would have granted the presidency the right to overturn congressional legislation with an order. And again, the bill in question had unbelievable support and passed in the House unanimously. On paper, only congress and the courts have the authority to modify or overrride it. Agreeing with the mandate says the power behind an executive order is equal in authority to a congressional law and the court may chose one over the other as peers. Congress's power would be increasingly irrelevant, especially considering it's complexity, and law would increasingly get passed through the presidency's cabinet.

 

If that sounds familiar, that's because that's exactly how a dictatorship works, the only difference being that the dictator would be elected every four years and your vote would be drowned out among 300,000,000 others instead of 10,000,000 others in your state. Letter to your congressman? Ha! Even if he read them he couldn't do anything for you.

 

So yeah, it's a shame that some women aren't going to get contraceptives over this, but considering what was actually at stake this was absolutely the correct call. I'm astonished it was 5-4. It should have been 9-0.

 

 

EDIT: I think this is probably because people think of America's political structure as immutable, or nearly so. It isn't. The whole "unconstitutional" thing is a power the courts granted themselves early on, for instance. It is entirely possible to change America's political structure. 


Edited by Egann, 02 July 2014 - 11:34 AM.


#6 SteveT

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Posted 02 July 2014 - 11:28 AM

The major difference, and the reason people care, is that this set the precedent that corporations can file under RFRA.  Between this ruling and Citizens United, corporations are people with rights equal to or greater than human beings.  That is not an easy 9-0 decision.
 
That's a good point about the executive order.  I'd have to look into the details, but the main focus of the President's job is making laws happen, so he does have some leeway there.

Edited by SteveT, 02 July 2014 - 11:30 AM.


#7 Egann

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Posted 02 July 2014 - 11:42 AM

Yeah, that whole corporations are people thing irks me, too, but I don't think the religious exemption will cause problems the way corporate political donations can. It's hard for Monsanto to file religious exemption for not labeling GMO products, but they can do that easily by buying elections. America has definitely had some disturbing political trends over the last decade or so which I don't like one bit.

 

Still, this was a big lose, little lose situation, and I think we wound up with the little lose. 



#8 SteveT

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Posted 02 July 2014 - 11:53 AM

I don't know.  There are opportunities for abuse beyond health care. 
 
Environmental law: Genesis has God giving humans total dominion over the Earth and everything in it.  So can corporations use freedom of religion to justify animal abuse, pollution, fracking, deforestation, etc?
 
Bigotry: Flavors of Christianity consider black people to be cursed by God and deserving of discrimination and/or slavery.  See also all the recent discrimination-based lawsuits regarding the LBGT community for a more immediately applicable example.
 
Then of course, there's the ever-present Sharia law boogeyman, which I'll admit is mostly a scare-tactic to show the Right what their actions could result in if someone else used them.
 
Yours is the first post I saw framing this as a case about the powers of the President, nor did I see it in the ruling (which I read, along with many many articles and comments).  So that wasn't the prime or even secondary motivation in the case, even though maybe it was a happy side effect.  I think that this ruling did a lot more damage to rule of law and the rights of human American citizens than it did to help limit the powers of the President.

Edited by SteveT, 02 July 2014 - 11:54 AM.


#9 Delphi

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Posted 02 July 2014 - 12:09 PM

This ruling is...yeah. I'm really not happy with it.

First thing, I'm with wisp that I bled so badly every month I was anemic and cramped so bad I would rather get line drived by a baseball in the kidney again than deal with that. Some days I'd rather pass kidney stones. I was put on birth control when I was fourteen because all my aunts on my mom's side and my mom have to endometriosis plus an aunt on my dad's side.

Some doctors' appointments were mortifying that young. Doctors never believed I was a virgin when I said I was and automatically assumed I was a little lying slut being on BC that young. I was a virgin until I was twenty five but treated like a dirty slut by most doctors from the time I was fourteen just because I -might- be lying about being sexually active. Even if I was sexually active it's still cruel.

I get that kids lie and if they wanted to do a pregnancy test and leave it at that I wouldn't have minded. But the dirty looks I got from nurses, doctors, techs... No kid should feel that ashamed just getting their health checked out. Especially when you're like me and confronting the idea of infertility as such a young age. That's hard enough.

Now they do this. Despite the fact that BC is used for PCOS, cystic acne, endometriosis, and to prevent anemia in women that bleed to heavy. But all of them will be slut shamed too because they must be using those conditions as an excuse for their wild sex lives.

Now my second point.

These people are obviously pro-life. Meaning they are against abortion. Well news flash people! People will have sex regardless of birth control availability. If they want to see abortion rates go down, maybe they should help with preventing conception in the first place. Avoids those messy details and arguments about when life begins too if there's no conception.

Third, they are forcing their religious views onto others. Biiiiig red flag to me. The US likes to tote their religious freedoms but despite being religious myself I believe people should also be able to exercise freedom from religion or a specific religion.

But in practice the US isn't always so good about upholding that, not even near its beginning. We have journals from my ancestors that converted to being Mormon talking about having to flee mobs, had family members murdered under the Mormon Extermination Order in Missouri, having to leave literally everything behind just to save their own lives. Off to a bit of a bad start there and while we don't openly murder people for their beliefs (I wish. At least there's less mobs) we still have a long way to go with that whole tolerance thing.

Given my family and religious history, I would never want someone to suffer like that because of their beliefs. I don't want people to suffer emotionally or mentally because of their beliefs either. I understand that I cannot bend people to my morals and I don't have any right to. Everyone has the right to choose what they do and do not believe and work has no right to stick their nose in it.

I guess my question as well is that if other companies follow suit with what Hobby Lobby is doing, there's going to be a lot of slippery slopes. Yeah today it's just birth control but what about tomorrow?

#10 SteveT

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Posted 02 July 2014 - 03:12 PM

People, people...it's not like faith leaders are going to send letters to Obama two days after this ruling asking for religious exemptions in an upcoming executive order so they can discriminate against gays. Nope. No slippery slope here.

 

http://www.theatlant...n-obama/373853/

 

EDIT: This letter was probably coming anyhow. But that timing..


Edited by SteveT, 02 July 2014 - 03:26 PM.


#11 Egann

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Posted 02 July 2014 - 03:48 PM

I don't know.  There are opportunities for abuse beyond health care. 
 
Environmental law: Genesis has God giving humans total dominion over the Earth and everything in it.  So can corporations use freedom of religion to justify animal abuse, pollution, fracking, deforestation, etc?
 
Bigotry: Flavors of Christianity consider black people to be cursed by God and deserving of discrimination and/or slavery.  See also all the recent discrimination-based lawsuits regarding the LBGT community for a more immediately applicable example.
 
Then of course, there's the ever-present Sharia law boogeyman, which I'll admit is mostly a scare-tactic to show the Right what their actions could result in if someone else used them.
 
Yours is the first post I saw framing this as a case about the powers of the President, nor did I see it in the ruling (which I read, along with many many articles and comments).  So that wasn't the prime or even secondary motivation in the case, even though maybe it was a happy side effect.  I think that this ruling did a lot more damage to rule of law and the rights of human American citizens than it did to help limit the powers of the President.

 

The problem with the internet: 90% of the people on it know enough already to form cogent opinions, but are too lazy to. People outsource the critical thinking parts of their brains to moveon.org and Rush Limbaugh so they can enjoy an emotional high.

 

As you can gather, I am not terribly big on this. If you think for yourself, yeah, people who know more will correct you all the time, but you will also get everyone to think about things in new directions.

 

That, and people never think of separation of powers until it's too late and the ruling is already over. It has always been that way.

 

In this case I don't think saying religion will justify environmental damage or slavery is more than fear mongering. Very few corporations which are big enough to have gone public can make a religious argument, and the ones which aren't that large (like Hobby Lobby) are going to do little more than nickle and dime. The things you list? Congress already has claimed authority to outlaw certain "religious" things if they threaten civil stability. Every last one of those things is on that list and has been since the United States was formed. Even the amendments on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act allowed for that.

 

It's not like this is a free pass because this is religious. It means that Congress is the final regulating authority on valid and necessary exceptions and that the Courts are the final authority on whether or not those exceptions are either valid or necessary.

 

 

The court argument that corporations are people because they are made up of people is the fallacy of composition. Corporations, political parties, and even unions all are superorganisms which develop their own interests as they develop, and these interests do not necessarily reflect the interests of their shareholders or members. Assuming that they do--as the courts have--is dangerous.

 

I believe that corporations and unions should be barred from donating money to political campaigns. They should pass the resources that would have gone there to their shareholders or members, and then encourage them to do so.


Edited by Egann, 02 July 2014 - 03:50 PM.


#12 SteveT

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Posted 02 July 2014 - 04:06 PM

In this case I don't think saying religion will justify environmental damage or slavery is more than fear mongering. Very few corporations which are big enough to have gone public can make a religious argument, and the ones which aren't that large (like Hobby Lobby) are going to do little more than nickle and dime.

 

All I can say is that I hope you're right.  But the door to religious exemption lawsuits is wide open now.  That part isn't fear-mongering.  Slavery isn't like to come back, but race-based hiring or denial of service?  Those could be lawsuits.  The Environment?  People already use religion to deny climate change.

 

 

 

The things you list? Congress already has claimed authority to outlaw certain "religious" things if they threaten civil stability. Every last one of those things is on that list and has been since the United States was formed. Even the amendments on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act allowed for that.

 

Please justify this statement.  Bonus points for providing sources.  My understanding was that abolition, civil rights for women and non-whites, and LGBT rights such as marriage were all established long after the U.S. was formed.  Or are you merely saying that these sorts of things have always been under Congress' authority?  Would your support of this ruling exist if the contraceptive mandate came from Congress rather than the President?

 

EDIT: While I'm at it, do you have a source for the claim that the contraceptive mandate is an executive order?  All I find are articles about the exemption for religious non-profits coming from an executive order.

 

EDIT2: OK, Executive Order is not an accurate description.  The Affordable Care Act says that birth control coverage will be determined by the HHS, who issued guidelines saying birth control should be covered with zero copay.  I think your argument is a little incomplete.  It was a rule made by a party that the ACA granted the authority to make rules, not an executive order.  


Edited by SteveT, 02 July 2014 - 05:28 PM.


#13 JRPomazon

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Posted 02 July 2014 - 07:16 PM

My belief is that if you're not going to give ladies birth control coverage through their work, then they shouldn't be dolling out Viagra and what have you for guys. We either give everything to everyone or no one gets anything at all, it's the only fair and simple way around it. I don't think this is the end, I just think those in favor of birth control being offered through insurance need to reword their argument and change the language so it can get along with the standing laws in place, you know, simple backwards Washington tactics.



#14 Selena

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Posted 02 July 2014 - 07:34 PM

Little loss vs. big loss... all losses just the same.

 

 

While the actual legal ruling isn't as world-ending as the detractors are making it out to be, it was just one of numerous battles that have been fought and won by religious movements in recent times. Some of the other battles include the "right to deny service" laws passed in various conservative states. Loopholes are being found and... fortified, in a way. Slowly but surely, religious groups are flexing more and more legal muscle -- with dangerous implications.

 

As with most big laws, this issue -- employers with religious beliefs paying for contraceptive care -- is a tangled mess of legal rights. Did Obamacare technically steamroll over the Religious Freedom Act? Perhaps. I don't claim to know the Religious Freedom Act well enough to argue its finer points.

 

Is executive power getting out of control? Yes, probably -- the president going over Congress' head is all sunshine and lollipops... until a president not in your party gets in charge and starts changing stuff, and then you've got something to worry about. Granted, it doesn't help that Congress is utterly incompetent*, but still.

 

 

 

My biggest beef is that this ruling gives even more power to "corporate personhood," which was already overpowered to begin with.

 

Corporations already heavily influence moral issues in the US by flinging their money at various charities -- liberal or conservative. Now they have the power to push their morality directly onto their employees. This is a massive slippery slope. How many medical services and other benefits can a company "outsource" to the government because of "religious issues?" Not only does this put more burden on federal funds/taxpayers, but it also creates a ton of loopholes that closely held corporations can use to get out of doing stuff. Ton of potentially bad things could happen from this.

 

Frankly, the entire corporate personhood thing needs to be heavily reworked -- but good luck doing that when most of our politicians are taking payments from them. We also need to make it so politicians can't take handouts period, but good luck doing that too. Which is probably why we can't do real reform and just stack shitty-laws on top of shitty-laws like ineffective and corrupt bandaids.

 

 

 

There's also the bias against "the pill" and other forms of lady birth control. The feds can overspend several million dollars on penis pumps and nobody complains about waste, but when women want the pill it's somehow the end of the world and will ruin our economy. Granted, this was more about the morning after pills, but hey, accidents happen and even the safest sexually active adults have pregnancy scares. And frankly, an employer has no business butting their nose into an employee's private life in that manner -- it doesn't impact their work performance.

 

 

 

 

* Though sometimes I wonder if it's just Congress that's inept, because most people seem happy with their own representatives -- so maybe Americans themselves are just insanely and perhaps irreparably divided.



#15 Egann

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Posted 03 July 2014 - 12:15 PM

EDIT2: OK, Executive Order is not an accurate description.  The Affordable Care Act says that birth control coverage will be determined by the HHS, who issued guidelines saying birth control should be covered with zero copay.  I think your argument is a little incomplete.  It was a rule made by a party that the ACA granted the authority to make rules, not an executive order.  

 

 

No. Despite provisions for it in the healthcare law, HHS reports to the president as part of the cabinet. It runs by executive authority, not congressional. Therefore technically the guideline it issued at Congress's request is an executive order and not congressional law.

 

 

 

Please justify this statement.  Bonus points for providing sources.  My understanding was that abolition, civil rights for women and non-whites, and LGBT rights such as marriage were all established long after the U.S. was formed.  Or are you merely saying that these sorts of things have always been under Congress' authority?  Would your support of this ruling exist if the contraceptive mandate came from Congress rather than the President?

 

I can't actually find the original exceptions list--and I've never seen it on the internet, anyway--but the original exceptions list was things like concubinage, abuse, ritual sacrifice, and a ton of other "well, no duh that's an exception" things. There is an old court case which I can find prior case law on, though. 

 

 

 

The Court considered whether Reynolds could use religious belief or duty as a defense. Reynolds had argued that as a Mormon, it was his religious duty as a male member of the church to practice polygamy if possible.

The Court recognized that under the First Amendment, the Congress cannot pass a law that prohibits the free exercise of religion. However it argued that the law prohibiting bigamy did not meet that standard. The principle that a person could only be married singly, not plurally, existed since the times of King James I of England in English law, upon which United States law was based.

 

*quote goofing on me again*

 

These days it's doubtful the court would come to the same conclusion, and certainly not for the same reason, but the courts can and have ruled that you can't claim religious freedom willy nilly. Especially if more than one person is involved. Consequently,

 

 

 

All I can say is that I hope you're right.  But the door to religious exemption lawsuits is wide open now.  That part isn't fear-mongering.  Slavery isn't like to come back, but race-based hiring or denial of service?  Those could be lawsuits.  The Environment?  People already use religion to deny climate change.

 

Racially discriminating hiring is really hard to prove one way or the other, but I imagine most racist employers will do exactly what they already do: hold onto the resume for a few months, pick someone else, and if anyone ever asks they didn't meet some criteria. No two applicants are exactly alike, so you can pretty much rationalize any choice. Good luck proving this is discrimination in court.

 

That, and thanks to the recent Oregon ruling religion is not a valid reason to deny service. This one is turning into a state by state one, but it's only a matter of time before the supreme court chimes in. Personally, I don't think that it's too big an issue. If you're not turning off a vital service, declining business and the subsequent PR backlash should be its own punishment. Most actually secular corporations won't do it for exactly that reason.

 

The environment? I seriously doubt that. There are literally decades of prior law about pollution in the US. Can you theoretically justify it with religion? Of course. Would the courts accept that? I seriously doubt it. Most of the exceptions to freedom of religion are where several people interact and their religion calls for something which would otherwise be illegal. Abusing the environment is a textbook example.

 

I really don't think, however, that otherwise secular corporations will wear on their sleeves that they're abusing the environment by making that argument in court. They will make donations to politicians and prevent environmental regulation from ever becoming law.

 

In general, if corporations can avoid using the religious argument, they will. It's harder to work public disinformation otherwise.


Edited by Egann, 03 July 2014 - 12:22 PM.


#16 SteveT

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Posted 03 July 2014 - 12:43 PM

No. Despite provisions for it in the healthcare law, HHS reports to the president as part of the cabinet. It runs by executive authority, not congressional. Therefore technically the guideline it issued at Congress's request is an executive order and not congressional law.

 

I'm ready to call this argument irrelevant to the case, which is probably why you're the only person who brings this up.  Please peruse the legal definition of executive order.  http://legal-diction...Executive Order

 

You seem to be expanding the definition of executive order and using that new definition to make this case about presidential overreach.  I call this argument invalid and irrelevant to the case.  Again, the HHS did what Congress granted it the authority to do and whether they had the authority to make a list of contraceptives was not questioned in the ruling.  The only question was whether the list they made violated freedom of religion.

 

As where this slippery slope ends, it's all speculation right now.  Like I said, I hope you're right, but I fear that you are not.  Either way, the slippery slope is real.  So far, I've already cited one instance of this ruling spreading beyond contraceptives a few posts ago.  Another one is that on Tuesday, SCOTUS clarified that the ruling is not limited to the 4 emergency contraceptives that Hobby Lobby unscientifically claim are abortifacients, but all contraceptive coverage.  The scope of the ruling was expanded the very next day.

 

EDIT: And with this post, we're deeply in "Yuh-huh/Nu-huh territory."  I consider this conversation an impasse.


Edited by SteveT, 03 July 2014 - 12:46 PM.


#17 Steel Samurai

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Posted 05 July 2014 - 08:14 PM

On the positive side, if this continues, bitches will have even more reason to ditch the ACA and actually institute a reasonable Single Payer, Universal Health Care system!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(In case you didn't realize I think this is a fucking terrible call sheerly for the corporation = person reasons) (I also support universal access to contraceptives)



#18 SteveT

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Posted 10 July 2014 - 10:18 PM

New development: House Democrats are pushing a bill that would override this ruling.  Not that it has a chance of passing with the current state of the House of Representatives.  

 

http://thehill.com/h...by-lobby-ruling






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