Tuesday, July 01, 2014
How The Scales Fell Off My Eyes: More on Hobby Lobby As Really Bad Law Interpretation
Remember yesterday? How Justice Alito told us that a for-profit firm, held in the close embrace of its owners though having 23,000 workers, can have true religious qualms about a sincerely held belief that certain contraceptives kill egg-Americans inside the wombs of women? And that this belief should be respected, even if it is not based on science, for who is Alito to judge which fervently held religious beliefs should be allowed and which should not? Though he does suggest that a fervently believed anti-vaccination or anti-blood-transfusion belief would not be allowed!
I found that a bit illogical but never mind. I read all of Alito's arguments and even looked up some of the things he references, to try to understand where he relies on case law, presumably important in the US legal system. I didn't find his chain of arguments that convincing (Ginsburg did that part much better in her dissent), but I admired Alito's ability to cleverly turn a particular ideological and religious position into something much wider. Though of course that width is almost completely in reference to how it reduces the personhood of American women (and ultimately all American workers) while increasing the pious personhood of for-profit companies of almost any size, as long as their owners are not too many.
Still. Stupid perennially-innocent me took him at face value: That this was about a particular religious belief, having to do with forced-birthers and their ilk. But today we find that any for-profit firm which somehow can be defined as closely held (definition left open) can refuse to cover all contraceptives in the health insurance it offers its workers! Even those which nobody has ever argued to have anything to do with aborting fertilized eggs.
That would be firms owned by Catholics, initially. Given that all the five Justices in the majority are Catholic men, the whole thing reeks. Now I'm sitting and waiting for the first Sharia case coming to courts. For instance, someone could argue that female workers should be segregated from male workers and that the former should be veiled. Clearly it no longer matters if those workers have the same religion as the firm's owners. That's what I mean by the increased personhood of firms and the diminished personhood of workers. Note, also, how Alito's definition of religious rights splashes over everyone else's human rights. Those who don't have the same religions must nevertheless go along with it.
Because all the large Abrahamic religions codify the second-class status of women, an increase in religious rights is very likely to run smack into reduced rights for women. I get that other laws might used to deny firms the rights to discriminate, but Alito only specifies race-based discrimination as not allowable under his new corporate religion scheme. That leaves open the possibility that Lesbians and gays and all heterosexual women could suffer from other people's religious rights and that the Supreme Court would side with the religions.