Hobby Lobby and Religious Privilege: Points Totally Missed

300px-Seal_of_the_United_States_Supreme_CourtSo the big foofaraw today is the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision, wherein the Court ruled that the special kind of corporation Hobby Lobby is (privately held by a small number of people) should be allowed to deny health coverage to its employees for specific medicines and treatments that offend its religious sensibilities. The religious right is crowing about it, and the progressives are losing their minds over the theocracy of it all. What I find ironic about the whole thing is that *both* sides have effectively missed the point of the whole thing!

First, this was never about religious liberty/theocracy in the first place, and everyone knows it. Clearly, given that Hobby Lobby offered their employees health insurance that covered birth control before the implementation of the ACA, and that they are currently fairly heavily invested via their sponsored retirement plans in companies that make birth-control, this was never about actually wanting to deny birth control (or being religiously avid) for Hobby Lobby. They obviously needed an excuse to ‘fight’ the ACA, and they used this religious bullshit as a wedge.

Never mind for a moment the facile ‘religion and employers’ issue, and how this whole contest would never even have come up but for Congress-critters passing yet another mandate that they didn’t have to find a way to pay for, allowing them to declare victory for creating a detestable mess that did the constituencies of neither side justice. What should be scaring us is that:

  1. The Supreme Court has tacitly approved the use of fraudulent civil actions – The Justices are not stupid. They have access to the same intarwebs the rest of us do (and/or twenty-something clerks who even know how to use it), and knew full well that this suit was not brought in good faith by Hobby Lobby. They *had* to have seen the clear evidence that Hobby Lobby had not and did not object to this aspect of health insurance, and yet they not only accepted the case, but they didn’t dismiss it for the obvious fraud it was, and ruled on it anyway. That’s an unbelievably dangerous precedent. I can’t even fathom what kind of flood gates this opens.
  2. Your employer now gets to tell you how you can spend your pay – Your health insurance is compensation. You get it from your employer as, effectively, pay. Saying that an employer gets to say how that compensation may be used is an insane concept. Religion doesn’t even factor in here. It’s a tiny step from here to “you can’t use money I’ve paid you to support political candidates that would negatively affect our business”, or “You can’t invest your 401K in industries that we believe threaten the environment.” After all, religion is only one form of conscience-related motivation. There could be no end in sight here.
  3. The Supreme Court is (willfully?) stupid – Even the dissenting opinion entirely ignored the points above, but moreover, the specific facts in the case seem to have been ignored. As I understand it, every single drug or device covered by this decision is *also* used for non-contraceptive purposes. If the court will accept that because one particular use of some drug/device/procedure is against an employer’s conscience, it must be available for denial, virtually every aspect of health-care (and use of any compensation, per the above argument) becomes vulnerable. There’s no way the justices (on both sides) could not have seen and understood these facts and their implications unless they were incompetent, so the fact they were never even mentioned by either side means that they either are incompetent, or are happy to pretend to be so they can satisfy their ideological constituencies! Effectively, we can never trust the Supreme Court about anything, after this, even if they are on “our side” in a decision.

People need to stop worrying about the details and look at the big picture on this case. We are in serious trouble as a nation when the branch of our government charged with keeping the other two in check displays this level of ineptitude, intentional or not, and no one even mentions it!

About the Author

Despite a decade of Catholic school, I have never been a believer. I guess I was just born without the gene! Nevertheless, I've always tried to explore others' ideas and practices, on the theory that just because you can't use one part of a product, it doesn't mean you have to throw the whole thing away.
 
I spent over a decade traveling the world, and I've lived in both Europe and the US. I've read the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Koran. I've studied engineering, yoga, martial arts, shooting sports, and ballroom dancing. What I've discovered is that a) spirituality is just a spooky sounding word for any of a number of methods for learning about yourself and your mind, and b) whatever word you use, doing so is the single most important thing in learning to be happy.
 
My blog, The Passionate Rationalist (http://www.societyofreason.com/devoutrationalist) is dedicated to my thoughts both on gaining self-knowledge and using your mind to eliminate misunderstanding and delusion.