If you want to spend your morning rage-reading the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services, et al. v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., et al., aka, Actual Science Stuff v. People Who Think Your Birth Control Makes Jesus Cry, you may want to reconsider, because it will make you want to burn all the things. So save yourself some time and what’s left of your sanity, put an aspirin between your knees, and enjoy hating these most sucktastic highlights of the Supreme Court’s decision that corporations, unlike ladies, are people, and their beliefs trump your health care. Because men. Because reasons. Because religion. Because because.
Justice Samuel Alito apparently won the coin toss against Justice Kennedy and, lucky fella, he got to mansplain why a closely held corporation is basically a person capable of having religious beliefs, which it believes very religiously, except that it doesn’t take up a parking space when it goes to church on Sunday. Said religious Corporation-American has a constitutional right to restrict women’s birth control if it believes it should have that right because it believes it very “sincerely” and “strongly,” and, as we all know, rights are all about the adverbs, man.
The whiny Corporation-Americans who are probably celebrating their judicial activism victory today with hookers and blow — but for Jesus! — believe that birth control, which is not abortion, actually is abortion. And because the only way they can possibly practice their religion is by discriminating against other people, well, it’s a whole First Amendment thing.
[W]e must decide whether the challenged HHS regulations substantially burden the exercise of religion, and we hold that they do. The owners of the businesses have religious objections to abortion, and according to their religious beliefs the four contraceptive methods at issue are abortifacients. If the owners comply with the HHS mandate, they believe they will be facilitating abortions.
Does it matter whether their “religious beliefs” are in any way, like, scientifically accurate? Nope, writes Alito, because “it is not for us to say that their religious beliefs are mistaken or insubstantial.” They have a First Amendment right to believe whatever they want, even if it is mistaken or insubstantial, and that First Amendment right is far more important than, say, a woman and her doctor to choose the best method of contraception for her.
And look: they really believe their beliefs.
As explained in Conestoga’s board-adopted “Statement on the Sanctity of Human Life,” the Hahns believe that “human life begins at conception.” … It is therefore “against [their] moral conviction to be involved in the termination of human life” after conception, which they believe is a “sin against God to which they are held accountable.”
Wow, that is serious! Being involved — a funny word to use, on account of how the contraception mandate didn’t exactly require the involvement of the employer, unless simply existing in a world in which your lady employees can access birth control without a co-pay constitutes involvement, which, well, apparently it does not — is a one-way ticket to hell. And the Supreme Court has a compelling interest in protecting these closely held corporations from God’s punishment. Or something.
So, you are probably thinking to yourself, does that mean that any employer can seek exemption from federal law if they believe — but, like, really believe — God will give them a spanking if they comply? Don’t be ridiculous.
As this description of our reasoning shows, our holding is very specific. We do not hold, as the principal dissent alleges, that for-profit corporations and other commercial enterprises can “opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
For those of you old enough to remember, why yes, this is quite a bit like the Supreme Court’s 2000 decision in Bush v. Gore, in which the Supreme Court said its ruling applies to only this one thing, just this one time, it’s not like you can apply it to any other situations because that would be silly, wouldn’t it? We are specifically talking about contraception laws, the justices say, and how those laws only are subject to religious beliefs. You can’t just opt out of any ol’ law you don’t like. So don’t you closely held Jehovah’s Witnesses get any ideas about not paying for blood transfusions. Real people need those. For real reasons. This specifically applies to the lady laws only that are stupid anyway and serve no real purpose.
HHS asserts that the contraceptive mandate serves a variety of important interests, but many of these are couched in very broad terms, such as promoting “public health” and “gender equality.”
Pffft. “Public health.” “Gender equality.” Like those are actual things, scoffs Alito. Why would the Supreme Court ever believe the government has a compelling interest in equality?
The principal dissent raises the possibility that discrimination in hiring, for example on the basis of race, might be cloaked as religious practice to escape legal sanction…Our decision today provides no such shield. The Government has a compelling interest in providing an equal opportunity to participate in the workforce without regard to race, and prohibitions on racial discrimination are precisely tailored to achieve that critical goal.
Oh, well, besides that.
In any event, our decision in these cases is concerned solely with the contraceptive mandate. Our decision should not be understood to hold that an insurance-coverage mandate must necessarily fall if it conflicts with an employer’s religious beliefs. Other coverage requirements, such as immunizations, may be supported by different interests (for example, the need to combat the spread of infectious diseases) and may involve different arguments about the least restrictive means of providing them.
Do you see the difference? The Supreme Court is certainly not saying you can object to insurance coverage of health care that actually matters, like combatting the spread of infectious diseases. That’s the kind of real public health concern that does not require sarcastic air quotes. Fortunately, since we are only discussing lady health care, and not real health care, it is obvious to Alito and his fellow justices that “requiring the Hahns and Greens and their companies to arrange for such coverage…demands that they engage in conduct that seriously violates their religious beliefs.”
Seriously, dude. Like, seriously.
Because these closely held corporations are basically people with strong religious beliefs that must be protected from dumb things like “gender equality” and “public health” and the wrath of God, the Supreme Court has a super nifty suggestion for the government and its so-called interest in lady health care. If corporations think certain types of birth control are actually abortion, the government should just pay for those birth control abortions instead! If it’s so important.
If, as HHS tells us, providing all women with cost-free access to all FDA-approved methods of contraception is a Government interest of the highest order, it is hard to understand HHS’s argument that it cannot be required under RFRA to pay anything in order to achieve this important goal.
What a neat idea! Let’s see if we can think of any problems with saying that the government can just go ahead and pay for something that some people who are very stupid consider abortion. Hmm … thinking … thinking …
Oh yeah! Thanks to decades of conservative fundamentalists sobbing like babies that the government should not pay for abortion, guess what the government is prohibited from doing? If you guessed “pay for abortion,” you are correct. Now, of course, some of us who are not idiots realize that paying for certain types of contraception is not actually the same as paying for abortion, because contraception is not abortion, you see, but then, none of us are on the Supreme Court, which has just ruled that if you believe contraception is abortion, well heck, then it is.
So, let’s play a little game. Let’s imagine that the government says, “OK, you black-robed bastards, we will use taxpayer dollars to pay for contraception that some people consider abortion, just like you say we should, because yes, we actually do believe it is that important.”
What do you think the conservative fundamentalists who believe their beliefs very a lot will say next? Do you think they might object to the government paying for something that they consider abortion even though it is not? Do you think they might invoke, say, the Hyde Amendment to say the government can’t do that? Or maybe Executive Order 13535, signed by President Obama, saying (slight paraphrase), “No, seriously, for reals, you guys, the government will not pay for abortions”?
Yeah, but that probably won’t happen. Right?