Today’s Supreme Court ruling on Hobby Lobby was bad, but it isn’t the end of the world like a lot of the media is currently proclaiming. Ideally, all companies would be required to provide any and all types of medical coverage as mandated in the Affordable Care Act, but unfortunately that’s not going to be the case.
First of all, let’s look at the argument made in the Hobby Lobby case:
Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood objected to a handful of contraceptives that they speculate can block a fertilized egg, which is neither documented in the science nor the medical definition of abortion. Other for-profit plaintiffs object to any birth control coverage at all.
The case was the first time the Affordable Care Act returned to the nation’s highest Court since it was first largely upheld as constitutional, and was argued by current Solicitor General Don Verrilli and former Bush administration solicitor general Paul Clement. (Source)
While the decision is troubling and potentially opens up further claims of religious exemption by other companies from the requirement to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees, it applies solely to contraceptives and not other claims of religious freedom such as the right to discriminate based on race, gender identity, etc. Religious, non-profit employers were already exempt under provisions laid out in the Affordable Care act and this ruling extended it to privately-held corporations like Hobby Lobby or Conestoga Wood who also claimed the requirement went against their personal beliefs.
Many Americans were already without the coverage due to religious exemptions, and so as bad of a ruling as this was, it’s not the end of the world:
A federal judge has estimated that a third of Americans are not subject to the requirement that their employers provide coverage for contraceptives. Small employers need not offer health coverage at all; religious employers like churches are exempt; religiously affiliated groups may claim an exemption; and some insurance plans that had not previously offered the coverage are grandfathered in.
The ACLU is correct in this statement, but at the same time, I believe that the government can provide coverage for those who are locked out by their employer. Obviously, this is not an ideal situation but one we will have to deal with so long as we have a conservative Supreme Court.
“This is a deeply troubling decision. For the first time, the highest court in the country has said that business owners can use their religious beliefs to deny their employees a benefit that they are guaranteed by law,” said Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the ACLU. “Religious freedom is a fundamental right, but that freedom does not include the right to impose beliefs on others. In its ruling today, the Court simply got it wrong.” (Source)
The question is now, are we going to see more decisions like this come out of the Supreme Court? Based off their track record, I’m going to say yes – and it could get even worse. Take into consideration the fact that two of the more liberal judges, Breyer and Ginsberg, are expected to retire within the next couple of years. Now, couple that with a very possible takeover of the US Senate by Republicans and heaven forbid, a GOP takeover of the White House in 2016, and you’re looking at potentially decades of a conservative Supreme Court that would make Roberts and Alito look like flaming liberals. As my friend James Schlarmann from The Political Garbage Chute points out, every single vote in favor of Hobby Lobby came from judges appointed by conservative presidents.
Not a single justice appointed by either President Bill Clinton or President Barack Obama sided with Hobby Lobby. It was indeed only the justices appointed by socially conservative presidents who voted to keep women trapped in a bygone era. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, because both sides of the aisle have been saying for the last few election cycles how important it is with our aging Supremes to have someone in the position to nominate justices of an ideological bent they agree with, and the proof of that concept is in Citizens United, McCutcheon v. FEC, and now the Hobby Lobby case. These narrow decisions will have a lasting impact on American society, and they are decisions made by men who have not been in power for decades in some cases, a half decade in one case. (Source)
Also consider the fact that the balance of the Supreme Court as it stands can be traced back to the 2004 presidential election where George W. Bush won by only 35 electoral votes. If John Kerry had won, the Supreme Court would be solidly liberal and today’s outcome would likely have been different. Let that be a reminder to each and every one of us that no matter what the voices of apathy say, both parties are not the same and every vote in every election counts.
The takeaway from this is that the Hobby Lobby decision is bad, but it could have been a lot worse.
So, what can you do to express your outrage? You can make sure to vote this coming November, and here’s what’s at stake besides 2 future seats on the Supreme Court:
—All 435 seats of the U.S. House of Representatives
—33 seats in the U.S. Senate
—46 State Legislatures
—38 State and Territorial Governorships.
Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court on Hobby Lobby is only a hint of what we could see if liberals remain apathetic and on the sidelines of elections because they didn’t get their ideal candidate. If we want to change the rulings that are coming out of the Supreme Court, the only way to do that is by voting. No amount of petitions or anything else replaces the need to show up on Election Day, and today’s decisions are proof of that.
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