Monday, June 30, 2014

The Hobby Lobby Decision

The U.S. Supreme court issued its long-awaited decision today in the Hobby Lobby case, involving the right of a for-profit corporation to opt out of part of the mandates under Obamacare on religious grounds. This was yet another 5-4 decision, with the conservatives on one side and the liberals on the other, with Justice Kennedy siding with the conservatives.

It is the sort of decision which leads one to realize that the Supreme Court is more of a political institution than it is a legal institution. Of course, it has always been a combination of both, but in recent years it has seemed to embrace political considerations to an unprecedented extent.

The very concept that a for-profit corporation can have religious views is suspect on the face of it. People have religious views, but corporations? I think not.

On the facts, it might appear to be a narrow holding, since it involves only four out of twenty means of birth control which Hobby Lobby is now allowed to deny to its employees. But just think of the principle involved. If in fact an employer's religious views can be used to deny health care services to its employees, where does this stop? What if my employer is a Christian Scientist or a Scientologist, can that employer then deny me access to all medical services, on the ground that the employer does not believe in this approach to healing?

And what of the rights of employees. The decision focuses on employer's rights, but totally ignores the rights of employees to their religious beliefs.

The dissent is correct when it calls this decision one of "startling breadth". One shudders to think to what lengths the right wing in this country will now go in its ongoing attempts to deny universal health care to this country's citizens.

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