Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Fun And Games in the Supreme Court. The Hobby Lobby Case And Women's Human Rights.

In the oral arguments about the Hobby Lobby case.  First Justice Kagan points out what will happen if we are going to regard for-profit corporations (which don't possess souls)  as religious believers with religious values worthy of honoring in the marketplace:

When Clement tried to deflect this list, Kagan came armed with an even bigger what. What of religious employers who object to gender equality, or the minimum wage, or family medical leave, or child labor laws? If the Supreme Court agrees with Hobby Lobby’s brief, which argues that laws burdening a corporation’s purported religious faith must survive the “most demanding test known to constitutional law,” then there would be few laws corporations could not exempt themselves from following.
Bolds are mine.   Just for your elucidation, Clement answered like this:

Paul Clement, the attorney for the companies, rejected that by calling it a “parade of horribles” that would not materialize.

Which is extremely reassuring...

And keep in mind that the religious values the market is expected to honor here are the social and cultural values of nomadic shepherding communities from two thousand years ago or so, at least in the context of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  That's worth pointing out, because it is those social values that the rest of us, with different religious beliefs, are most likely forced to honor under the corporations-are-believers view. That is bad news for women, but not only for women.

Does that sound extreme?  Two reasons for the way I wrote that.  First, there is no obvious way to limit the possible religious rights of for-profit corporations to just birth control or abortions, and a decision that way in the Hobby Lobby case would automatically mean that 

“You would see religious objectors come out of the woodwork,” Kagan said.
As I mentioned in my earlier post on the Hobby Lobby case, a firm could then refuse to promote women in the organization, based on the fundamentalist belief of some sects that women must never be placed above men in any hierarchy and so on.

The second reason for my dismal mood is that the five conservative Justices appear to be ready to rule for Hobby Lobby, which opens the gates of hell, so to speak.  Indeed, Justice Scalia is eager to accept corporations in the pews of his Catholic church:

"There's not a single case that says a for-profit enterprise cannot make a religious claim," Justice Antonin Scalia said.

And finally, the case seems to be about abortion, once again, based on the scientifically very questionable idea that emergency contraceptives and IUDs constitute abortion, mostly just because someone believes that they do.   As Justice Kennedy hates abortion, that means a five-four decision for Hobby Lobby, because no firm should be made to pay for abortion or even for contraception which forced-birthers have decided is abortion in their minds. 

But of course the firms aren't really "paying" for abortions in the first place, unless we take such a tremendously wide view of "paying" that just giving a woman her properly-earned wages means that.  Because that's what the health insurance offered by firms ultimately is:  part of the total wage package.