Subscribe via RSS Feed

Should Liberals Be Applauding Hobby Lobby? (SPOILER: No.)

[ 398 ] July 3, 2014 |

You will be highly unsurprised that Damon Linker has once again done his “liberalism, properly understood, compels agreeing with conservatives” routine:

The Supreme Court’s 5–4 decision in the Hobby Lobby case — giving certain corporations an exemption under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate — is a travesty, an outrage, a monumental setback for the rights and reproductive health of women.

At least that’s what many liberals are saying.

Which is unfortunate. Because liberals should be cheering the decision on.

Um, why?

Yes, liberals should uphold individual rights, but they should also uphold the freedom of private entities like churches and businesses to maintain their religiously based identities, even when part of that identity clashes with the rights of individuals.

But wait! Isn’t that contradictory?

Of course it is. Just like life itself.

As everyone except children and ideologues understand, goods sometimes conflict with one another. Liberalism’s greatest virtue and strength as a political philosophy is its effort to adjudicate those conflicts, to allow people on various sides of moral and theological clashes to reach peaceful settlements that, on the whole, maximize human freedom.

This mode of argument — “this case presents a clash between potentially legitimate interests, so in conclusion, I win” — is, to put it mildly, unsatisfying. So there’s a clash of interests — why should we favor the company’s position when the logic applies equally the other way? Since Linker doesn’t actually use any discernible criteria to reach his conclusion, I thought it would be useful to try to actually think through this problem. It seems to me that there are three major things liberals should be thinking about when presented with this kind of problem:

Would this alleviate or reinforce domination? Democratic values should seek to increase individual liberty by attenuating power relations, private as well as public. In this case (since state power is implicated either way) this would compel siding with the workers, not the employers who wish to deny them something they have a right to based on religious values they don’t share. Linker, conversely, seems to side with Alito’s illiberal “kiss up, kick down” assumption.

Who would bear the greatest burden of the accommodation? This is both possibly the most important question and where the case for Hobby Lobby really collapses. I agree that liberals should in some cases accommodate religious belief where doing so doesn’t burden third parties. If there are two people working in pharmacy and one opposes Plan B on religious grounds, having the employee who doesn’t object fill the prescription makes sense. If this creates a de minimis burden on a third party — say, waiting an extra five minutes — that’s fine. If this means a substantial burden for the customer — say, waiting until tomorrow — then the employee should fulfill the prescription irrespective of her religious conscience.

In the case of the contraceptive requirement, the burden on third parties is clear, direct, and material. Employees will be denied a something they worked for and are entitled to under federal law without being compensated for the denial. The burden on employers, conversely, is so abstract and attenuated it’s hard to even explain what it is. The Greens are not required to use contraception or advocate the use of contraception. They are not making the decision about what insurance should cover, and they are not making any employee’s decision to use contraceptives (which, as Ginsburg’s dissent observed, is an autonomous choice of a woman and her doctor.)

When a clash of interests presents a substantial burden against a trivial one, it seems obvious that all things being equal the claims of the former should prevail. Combining points 1 and 2, Linker’s resolution of the problem produces a net diminution of religious freedom, rather strongly suggesting that he’s reached the wrong answer.

Is the Standard Workable? This this involves legal decisions that will apply to future cases, we also have to ask whether the standard created will lead to perverse consequences going forward. Alito’s Bush v. Gore-style attempt to make Hobby Lobby good for this day and train only notwithstanding, the decision logically gives employers who want to engage in various forms of discrimination a strong argument. Linker attempts to respond:

Which leads, inevitably, to another objection: Couldn’t racist business owners use the reasoning in the Hobby Lobby case to claim religious exemption from statutes that ban discrimination against African-Americans?

Answer: They can try, but they will fail.

Beyond the meticulous narrowness of Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion, there’s the fact that racism is much less deeply woven into the fabric of Judeo-Christian scripture, doctrine, and theology than are traditionalist teachings on sex and gender. For that reason it is far more difficult to craft a religiously grounded case for racial discrimination.

This distinction — between what is truly fundamental to a faith and what isn’t — is one that the courts absolutely cannot make. They might be able to inquire into whether a belief is sincere, and they can certainly inquire into whether a burden is substantial, but it would not merely be wrong but would also violate the Establishment Clause for judges to make inquiries into what “really” counts as a religious tenet and what doesn’t. I also note that the claim that opposition to contraceptives is “deeply woven” into the Greens’ Protestant faith is…highly questionable, a point Linker neatly elides by raising the question to the higher level of abstraction of “traditionalist teachings on sex and gender.” At any rate, if this is Linker’s limiting principle, the answer is that there is no limiting principle; the conflicts will be resolved by judges determining which litigants they take seriously and which they don’t.

There are cases where religious freedom might pose a difficult problem for liberalism. Hobby Lobby isn’t one of those; its claims plainly should have been rejected.

Share with Sociable

Comments (398)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. actor212 says:

    But wait! Isn’t that contradictory?

    “Moronic” leaps to mind.

    • I would like to ensure that Damon Linker receives excellent health care after I give him a severe nut-kicking.

      But wait! Isn’t that contradictory?

      Of course it is. Just like life itself.

      • low-tech cyclist says:

        Well played, sir.

        Democratic values should seek to increase individual liberty by attenuating power relations, private as well as public. In this case (since state power is implicated either way) this would compel siding with the workers, not the employers who wish to deny them something they have a right to based on religious values they don’t share.

        Absofuckinglutely. And this is an excellent example of why ‘left libertarianism’ is an oxymoron.

        • Col Bat Guano says:

          In Linker’s world, the rights of all the female employees of Hobby Lobby are outweighed by the rights of the five owners. This is known as maximizing freedom. Also as dipshittery.

  2. actor212 says:

    Hey, Scott?

    How narrow is this decision?

  3. Jeremy says:

    “[Courts] might be able to inquire into whether a belief is sincere”

    Just curious, but how is this done in practice? If an owner of a closely held corporation comes to court and claims that he deeply believes that minimum wage laws are sinful and his company should not have to follow them, how does the government go about proving his belief is not “sincerely held”?

    • Grumpy says:

      Conduct or statements inconsistent with sincere belief.

      Of course, you can get religion the minute after your inconsistent conduct or statements.

      • David Hunt says:

        It’s my understanding that inconsistent conduct and statements were blazingly obvious in the Hobby Lobby case, but the court didn’t use them then. Why would they be used in later cases?

        • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

          Even Ginsburg in her dissent stipulates to the sincerity of HL’s religious convictions. My guess is that she does this out of a general discomfort about courts’ adjudicating the sincerity of professed religious beliefs.

          • Sufferin' Succotash says:

            question: but why does ginsburg bother to stipulate the “sincerity” of a f*cking corporation…er, closely held yadda yadda? i know corps are people, but FFS!

            martini, tylenol, bed.

            • Elizabeth says:

              I read somewhere that the government conceded the sincerity issue, which, if that’s true, means that judges and justices will treat it as proven.

              • Dinesh d'souzaphone says:

                The government should never have conceded the sincerity issue and sincerity should always be in quotations–especially since the Greens had been happilly paying for this stuff for years, were invested in companies that make contraception, and were doing business with China. Frankly their sincerity should have been vigorously fought.

                • Aimai says:

                  Damn, nymfail! That was me.

                • Dilan Esper says:

                  I feel very strongly that courts should litigate sincerity and it should be a stringent test. It is a very serious thing to declare that the rules the rest of the people abide by don’t apply to you.

                  But historically, it has been very hard to get courts to agree to adjudicate sincerity. That’s why the Obama Justice Department conceded the issue.

            • Area Man says:

              She dissented elsewhere that Hobby Lobby was a “person”. She mentions the Green family by name. Adjudicating whether they believed what they claimed to believe, aside from being fraught with difficulty, was not necessary for her dissent. She held that it failed in about five different ways.

      • SatanicPanic says:

        Now there are no atheists in foxholes or accounting departments

        • STH says:

          I wonder, though, if it isn’t more expensive to NOT cover birth control than it is to cover it. I would bet that insurance companies can offer a better rate to companies that cover birth control since maternity care is so much more expensive. Not to mention maternity leave and FMLA.

          • No, you’d fire them; it’s ungodly to have a woman working when G-d’s plan is that she stays at home babyherding.

          • Matt McIrvin says:

            Over on Balloon Juice, I think Richard Mayhew mentioned that, from an insurance company’s perspective, covering contraception vs. covering unintended pregnancies and children is actually more or less a wash. It surprised me, but apparently so.

    • NonyNony says:

      I’ve been wondering the same thing.

      It isn’t like there isn’t a template for “sincere beliefs” – it’s how folks with conscientious objector status argued against being drafted (and you know damn well that during Vietnam those conscientious religious objections were scrutinized to hell and back before any of them were approved).

      • rea says:

        HHS has also provided no evidence that the purported problem of determining the sincerity of an asserted reli-gious belief moved Congress to exclude for-profit corpora-tions from RFRA’s protection. On the contrary, the scopeof RLUIPA shows that Congress was confident of the ability of the federal courts to weed out insincere claims. RLUIPA applies to “institutionalized persons,” a category

        ——————

        28

        To qualify for RFRA’s protection, an asserted belief must be “sin-cere”; a corporation’s pretextual assertion of a religious belief in order to obtain an exemption for financial reasons would fail. Cf.,

        e.g

        .,

        United States

        v.

        Quaintance

        , 608 F. 3d 717, 718–719 (CA10 2010).

        30 BURWELL

        v.

        HOBBY LOBBY STORES, INC. Opinion of the Court

        that consists primarily of prisoners, and by the time of RLUIPA’s enactment, the propensity of some prisoners toassert claims of dubious sincerity was well documented.

        29

        Nevertheless, after our decision in

        City of Boerne

        , Con-gress enacted RLUIPA to preserve the right of prisoners toraise religious liberty claims. If Congress thought that thefederal courts were up to the job of dealing with insincere prisoner claims, there is no reason to believe that Con-gress limited RFRA’s reach out of concern for the seem- ingly less difficult task of doing the same in corporate cases. And if, as HHS seems to concede, Congress wantedRFRA to apply to nonprofit corporations, see, Reply Brief in No. 13–354, at 7–8, what reason is there to think that Congress believed that spotting insincere claims would be tougher in cases involving for-profits?

        –From the Alito opinion

        • rea says:

          Ah, cut-and-paste fail.

        • Jeremy says:

          “what reason is there to think that Congress believed that spotting insincere claims would be tougher in cases involving for-profits?”

          I don’t think this question is as simple as Alito thinks it is. Are courts really equipped to figure out whether someone sincerely holds a belief?

          It would be an easy case if the business owner in my example above had told his friends he didn’t actually have any religious beliefs regarding minimum wage and was just suing for fun, but what if you have no contrary statements or conduct? In that case, the court is really just judging what it thinks qualifies as a valid religious belief, which is not a game that I think the courts should be playing.

          • Rudolph Schnaubelt says:

            Religious beliefs are by definition sincere, because they are religious. No one would ever falsify religious beliefs because that is bad juju.

            Even I know that.

            • Mike G says:

              “Sincerity” for legal purposes is proportional to how closely the religious superstition conforms to the political prejudices of the Dirty Five on the SCOTUS.

          • Lee Rudolph says:

            Are courts really equipped to figure out whether someone sincerely holds a belief?

            Have they no thumbscrews, no Iron Maidens?

          • NonyNony says:

            Also – that is a line of shit from Alito.

            Religious non-profits are founded by particular religions. If the Catholic Church is founding a Catholic non-profit hospital or school or whatever you just have to point to the doctrine of the Church to say “here’s what we believe because we’re a religious non-profit”.

            It’s pretty trivial to tell if a non-profit has religious beliefs or not. It’s generally right there in public for everyone to see. I don’t see how that applies at all to extending that special privilege to for-profit companies though.

            • rea says:

              Well, yeah, there is a certain element of classism in Alito’s reasoning–”Telling whether religious beliefs are sincere is really easy. Is the person claiming a sincere religious belief a prisoner?”

      • Rudolph Schnaubelt says:

        As long as you believe in the one true faith your beliefs are sincere. Insincere believers follow false religions (like Islam).

        Thank you Sam Alito. Where have you gone Francisco Franco a nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

      • Chris J says:

        Yep. I was an enrolled Quaker and still got grilled.

        • witless chum says:

          I read an interview with George RR Martin recently where he thinks he breezed through without even claiming pacifism because the draft board thought that giving someone conscientious objector status was the worst possible thing they could do to him and his life would be forever ruined.

          I’ll also never forget my dad’s description of his draft board as “A bunch of guys who fought in the Spanish-American War.”

    • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

      Does the term “closely held corporation” have a well-established legal meaning, or is this a neologism designed to create grey areas and to add breadth to a pseudo-narrow decision?

      • It is a thing.

        Generally, a closely held corporation is a corporation that:

        Has more than 50% of the value of its outstanding stock owned (directly or indirectly) by 5 or fewer individuals at any time during the last half of the tax year; and
        Is not a personal service corporation.

        The definitions for the terms “directly or indirectly” and “individual” are in Publication 542, Corporations.

        A closely held corporation is subject to additional limitations in the tax treatment of items such as passive activity losses, at-risk rules, and compensation paid to corporate officers.

        • Scott P. says:

          So if the five individuals owning all the stock are a) a Jew, b) a Catholic, c) a Jehovah’s Witness, d) a Muslim and e) a Hindu, what religion is the corporation?

          • STH says:

            Yes, I’ve been wondering about that. How exactly are the religious convictions of a corporation are to be established? Simple majority? Alito writes that it would be difficult to determine the convictions of a publicly-held corporation because of the hassles of rounding up the stockholders, but what about if half the Green family is on vacation and can’t be reached? Is there a quorum that has to be polled before it’s valid?

            • Aimai says:

              Yes, I’ve been wondering what happens when some of the sincerely believing Catholics suddenly get a divorce –does their sincerity come into question then? Or if one of them dies and his shares are inherited by an atheist–does that dilute the religion of the corporation?

              • Matt McIrvin says:

                I’ve been thinking this is going to make estate battles in moneybags corporate-owner families even more horrible.

                • Lee Rudolph says:

                  Richard Mellon Scaife has just died. Do you think there’ll be a shoot-out for control of his Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy? (One can only hope.)

                • john not mccain says:

                  If by horrible you mean entertaing. Is Trump married and could we persuade his wife to turn Scientologist? They have good lawyers.

                • MAJeff says:

                  So, Scaife has fucked his last rat.

          • Confused says:

            Catholic. Duh.

          • Matt McIrvin says:

            A rabbi, a priest and an imam buy partial ownership in a bar…

      • Schmogo says:

        If the “closely help corporation” can hold the religious beliefs of it’s close holding owners, how can those same owners hold onto the personal protections given to them by the corporation? Can those individuals now be held liable for the “sins” of the corporation?

    • DrDick says:

      The Old Testament condones slavery, so they could argue that their religion allows them to not compensate their employees at all and to hold them in bondage. Southerners routinely did that before the Civil War. Their ongoing refusal to pay more than the minimum required by law would sustain their belief.

    • Haystack says:

      Sincerity doesn’t need to be a question if “freedom of religion” is restricted to the notion of citizens PASSIVELY enjoying whatever form of worship they choose without fear of harassment or discrimination.

      Did the founders really mean “freedom of religion” as protection for a group’s desire to ACTIVELY (and negatively) affect others’ lives on the basis of its beliefs?

    • TomH says:

      If the sincerity of the beliefs of the members of a closely held corporation are later to be found insincere do they then lose their exemption?

  4. pseudalicious says:

    I am really sick of this whole construction of liberalism as, “But aren’t you the guys that wants everyone to hold hands peacefully in a field?” I want the people with the most power to have less and the people with least power to have more. That’s what I want. Full stop.

    • Dinesh d'souzaphone says:

      Shut up shut up shut up!!!! [holds hands over ears. Runs away in horror]

    • But it is standard for the Come, Let Us Reason shitbirds, no?

      Liberals aren’t allowed to get mad because Gandhi, lunch counter sit ins, peace & justice. Now eat the shit sandwich and say thank you!

      Before the day is out we’ll have someone telling feminists that getting angry about the decision isn’t ladylike. Or that our maternal instincts should make us want to protect and coddle the CEOs of HL.

      El. Oh. El.

    • Dilan Esper says:

      Well, there are different philosophical bases for what we call “liberalism”. One basis is the tradition of Western liberal philosophy, which is very much about tolerance. Another basis is the tradition of Marxism and class struggle, which is very much about shifting the balance of power.

      They are both ingredients in modern “liberalism”. But they have very different priors.

      • Aimai says:

        Even Western Liberal Philosophy–whatever that is–is only partially about tolerance. There are many other strands in it and social justice didn’t come out of Marxism but out of the French Revolution, substantially earlier.

      • Bijan Parsia says:

        Oh please. Not the “priors” nonsense again, even in this attenuated form.

        (And do you really mean to echo Bayesian lingo? Or do you in fact just mean antecedents? Oh, never mind.)

        • Dilan Esper says:

          Bijan:

          If you want to call it nonesense, go ahead. But if you really think, say, John Rawls and Karl Marx are operating from the same set of basic premises, you really don’t know much about modern liberalism.

          And this DOES explain precisely why some liberals are more troubled by Hobby Lobby than others.

          • Bijan Parsia says:

            Thank you for permission to do what I already clearly felt I was allowed to do. It’s. Wry considerate.

            You can misremember my problem with your nonsensical moves as my not knowing any political philosophy, if you choose, but considering that I did graduate work in political philosophy and your notorious requirement that expertise be respected, you might reconsider whether you have latched on to what I consider nonsense in your comment.

            Or you could just snark as you do. As I recall, you believe that that is conclusive evidence of lack of any argument on your part. I am in agreement with that conclusion, though still disagree with the supersilly argument.

            • Bijan Parsia says:

              Oh and dude, I could have a lot more homogeneous view of liberalism and still not think that Rawls and Marx don’t share key premises since Marx isn’t a liberal (by most understandings I’m aware of esp human nature accounts). Sheesh.

          • Scott Lemieux says:

            But if you really think, say, John Rawls and Karl Marx are operating from the same set of basic premises, you really don’t know much about modern liberalism.

            If you think that Rawls is concerned solely with tolerance and ignores power relations, you pretty clearly haven’t read him.

            • Bijan Parsia says:

              Oh but these appeals to differences in philosophical “priors” or “bases” are never, afaict, even intended to be historically or scholarly correct or even explanatory or relevant. They are just a bit of glibness intended to sound deep but are made of derp.

              And it’s always made with a ridiculously superior tone, “Oh, you don’t understand that Leftists think America’s institutions are illegitimate, thus you can say that their preference for ideological purity unto Republican electoral success is self defeating.”

              Again, sheesh.

  5. Anderson says:

    Do you have to bring worthless assholes like Linker to our attention, Lemieux? Couldn’t you just post photos of kittens instead?

    /oneofthosedays

  6. pillsy says:

    The burden on employers, conversely, is so abstract and attenuated it’s hard to even explain what it is. The Greens are not required to use contraception or advocate the use of contraception. They are not making the decision about what insurance should cover, and they are not making any employee’s decision to use contraceptives (which, as Ginsburg’s dissent observed, is an autonomous choice of a woman and her doctor.)

    It doesn’t stop there. The Greens are not required to provide employees with health insurance via a group plan. They choose to provide employees with health insurance via a group plan because it provides tax benefits.

    • James Wimberley says:

      Absolutely. The Greens claim – or rather their lawyer claims – that their employee health plan is “religiously motivated”. They are pretty clearly lying about this. Show me the sermons, debates, synodical resolutions, or other evidence of lively religious concern about providing employer health insurance in the church to which the Greens belong. It is conventional wisdom among rich American businessmen of any faith that a “good employer” offers health insurance: it keeps employees loyal and obedient, at no net cost because of the tax break. Any strong moral argument disappeared with the entry into force of ACA and the successful launch of the exchanges. See Marty Lederman’s series of posts at Balkinisation,or for a lite version with comic relief my post here.

      • djw says:

        The Greens claim – or rather their lawyer claims – that their employee health plan is “religiously motivated”. They are pretty clearly lying about this.

        Nonsense. They’ve part of religious movement for which “thou shalt oppose Obamacare in every way possible” is an important and quite sincerely held religious commitment.

        • wjts says:

          The central tenet of this exciting new faith is, “Whatsoever ye have done unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye shall make sure ye did it good and hard.”

      • Kurzleg says:

        Show me the sermons, debates, synodical resolutions, or other evidence of lively religious concern about providing employer health insurance in the church to which the Greens belong.

        I think you’re being a bit too literal-minded here. The Luke 6:31 passage about doing to others what you’d have them do to you could be their basis. Or the Matthew 25 parable that includes the line “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” I’ve also heard that their starting wage is relatively generous. So I think their claim may be genuine on this count.

        • runsinbackground says:

          $14/hour for straight retail is almost enough to put up with the non-stop Christian Contemporary soundtrack.

          • Kurzleg says:

            Almost, but not quite, at least not for me. The overlap of the two demographics that would be attracted to working there has to be a tiny, tiny sliver of the population, doesn’t it?

  7. laughable says:

    So there’s a clash of interests — why should we favor the company’s position when the logic applies equally the other way?

    Because the American people, when they passed RFRA through their representatives, said that religiously practitioners should be accommodated. Company vs Employee is not the correct conflict here–that’s not what the court adjudicated. The conflict was Religious Practitioner vs Government. And unless Obama can repeal RFRA through executive fiat, the outcome to this case was always obvious.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      when they passed RFRA through their representatives, said that religiously practitioners should be accommodated.

      Well, no — since they were restoring the Sherbert test, they did not say that accommodations could substantially burden third parties.

      • Jose Arcadio Buendia says:

        And it won’t. Not really.

        What is going to happen is the same thing that happens that people who have had a conventional legal education just cannot seem to fully absorb: the decisions will be political. No third party Christian will be burdened.

        Hobby Lobby is not best understood as a being in a line of RFRA cases. It’s best understood as being in a line of the emerging activist and political right on the court in its current iteration.

        Trying to understand precedent misses the point. It might be nice for an appellate court brief or a law school project, but will have nothing to do with actual rulings.

        Ted Olson and Boies understood this when they brought the Prop 8 case. Kennedy wanted his legacy.

      • DAS says:

        Alito, however, reads the RFRA as going beyond restoring the Sherbert test.

    • Craigo says:

      An artificial person is not a religious practitioner in the minds of the anyone but the insane. Does your corporation go to confession, lay hands, and speak in tongues also?

      • laughable says:

        Your analysis only makes sense if the shareholders of the company are cyborgs. Certainly they are people, and they can make decisions to run their company as they like. See Eich, Brendan. Once you accept that some companies are run by a small group of similarly minded folk according, RFRA applies. Certainly church non profits incorporate all the time, and its not a point of controversy to say they get RFRA protection. All the court did here was expand the right to religious liberty in an incremental way. And yes, real liberals should applaud that.

        • Craigo says:

          Your analysis only makes sense if the shareholders of the company are cyborgs.

          You are kidney punchingly stupid.

          …derp…

          The entire reason that corporations are created is to have an existence separate from their owners. If a shareholder of Hobby Lobby thinks God told them to hate sluttyslutsluts, whatever. But the corporate structure that shareholder joined

          in order to legally protect himself from its activities

          does not magically gain his individual rights. If our poor oppressed slutshamer is so deeply in love with his corporation that he wants their “religious identities” to be inextricably bound, then he should also be happy to be personally liable for it also.

        • FlipYrWhig says:

          “Incrementally” to the point where any business run by people who voice religious opinions can cover itself in the mantle of being a religious business that is therefore similar to a religiously affiliated non-profit. That’s not incremental, that’s a quantum leap.

        • Sly says:

          Then on what basis does the Court grant these rights to “closely held” corporations and not publicly traded ones? If 51% of Apple’s shareholders voted to make the corporate persona a Scientologist, why would they not qualify for an exemption to rules regarding mental health parity or a statute that all health insurance policies offer full coverage of antidepressants?

          Keep in mind that this scenario stupidly assumes the denial of statutory rights to natural persons is not a substantial burden on liberty, while the attenuated “denial” of statutory rights to an artificial person is a substantial burden. An assumption that lies at the core of Alito’s opinion.

          • runsinbackground says:

            I’d like to think that arguing that being forced to not own shares in companies whose actions violate your sincerely held religious beliefs is an undue burden on free exercise would be a bridge too far, even for the staunchest defenders of the religious freedom to shit on your neighbor from a great height. Of course, this is the same constituency that would rather defund a major religious charity than let them hire gays, so that’s probably overly optimistic.

      • FlipYrWhig says:

        I can imagine some corporations clearing the bar as “religious.” “Christian” bookstores. Stores that sell nothing but Judaica or prayer rugs. But Hobby Lobby sells… craft supplies. There’s nothing religious about that. The business isn’t religious; the owners are religious. It’s not even slightly debatable, as it would be for a business dedicated to devotional products or services. And that’s another thing that makes this decision particularly ludicrous.

        • Aimai says:

          Does the store even tithe? Or bathe after menstruating? Inquiring minds want to know.

          • CD says:

            This is what I’m wondering. Can a corporation experience doubt? Undergo conversion? Find salvation? Did Paul write an Epistle to the Shareholders?

        • cpinva says:

          “But Hobby Lobby sells… craft supplies, many of which are made in china, by pretty much slave labor.”

          fixed that for ya.

          of course, as believers in the OT, the greens would have no problem with slavery, here or elsewhere. that a lot of what they sell is produced in other countries, by people paid starvation wages, just makes those products more godly.

    • pillsy says:

      So it’s a free exercise of religion to compensate your employees in a manner that grants you tax benefits while placing restrictions on the way they use that compensation which undermine the public policy rationale for providing the tax benefits in the first place?

    • Joe says:

      Employees who are “religiously practitioners” also use their compensation in various including to provide for their health needs following their moral beliefs. Pre-existing law that RFRA allegedly “restored” thus didn’t allow employers to burden employee beliefs in this fashion. U.S. v. Lee.

      Alito basically argued that RFRA did more than “restore,” it expanded. More fuel for critics who said that RFRA went too far, even if you support religious accommodations to some degree.

  8. If you’re so liberal how come you want to oppress corporations with your so called liberal ideas, huh??

    Which, just so you know are totally unrealistic because life is full of conflict, which you as a liberal must agree to lose if you want to stay liberal.

    Also, you silly unrealistic liberals who’re getting upset over nothing, there’s no way anyone can use this ruling to claim they should be allowed to discriminate against homosexuals, black people, because … uh … Judeo-Christian oppression of other races doesn’t have the same pedigree as oppressing women and that’s part of life so, deal.

    And European conquest of other countries that just happened to be filled with people who … look, you liberals are always saying you’re colorblind, so why are you even asking me about race?! You did too, don’t lie!

    And – I … uh … I don’t have time to discuss all of those wars in the Bible or why I only focus on Judeo-Christian religions or the history of … And don’t ask me about what other religions can do … because … I’m not gonna waste my time arguing with you silly liberals, bye!

    [Frantically pedals Big Wheel]

  9. Medrawt says:

    but they should also uphold the freedom of private entities like churches and businesses to maintain their religiously based identities, even when part of that identity clashes with the rights of individuals.

    I actually don’t believe I’m compelled by my liberalism to uphold this at all, though I’m cognizant that existing caselaw doesn’t entirely see eye to eye with me on this. I think when a religious organization enters the realm of business (let alone a nonreligious business owned by people who happen to subscribe to a particular faith), and endeavors to take advantage of the benefits the government provides to businesses, they ought to lose any special considerations they might have had as a private religious organization.

    • FlipYrWhig says:

      I agree, and I thought the exemption for church-affiliated hospitals and schools was already a bridge too far. But enough Democrats joined the squawking to make it decent politics, even if it remains objectionable philosophically.

  10. Linnaeus says:

    Interesting how Linker contrasts racism with “traditionalist teachings on sex and gender”. That is, he can identify racism for what it is, but not sexism or misogyny.

    • liberalrob says:

      Also, cowardly and intellectually dishonest. Yet another guy who tapdances around the distasteful reality of what he is arguing in favor of, because he knows he loses points for it.

      • Kurzleg says:

        Right. It’s the same strategy that conservative candidates routinely use to hide their true motives from the general electorate. Terms like “traditional values” and “urban voters” signal to their team but sound more or less innocuous to the layman. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that Linker uses it in his piece.

        • Dilan Esper says:

          Back when I was blogging I did a blog post called “why is racism bad but sexism OK?”. It was during the time when Augusta National Golf Club was excluding women.

          Feminism has succeeded in so many ways, but one of the ways in which it hasn’t is exactly this. So many people have never been convinced that the oppression of women is “as bad” as the oppression of blacks. They justify the former with “tradition” even though there was plenty of “tradition” supporting the latter as well. Same with religious justifications– people (including Alito) pretend that religion justifies sexism but not racism, when in fact the turn of most organized religions away from racism is an extremely recent development (and an incomplete one– there’s still lots of religious people who, for instance, believe that Palestinians have no legitimate national ambitions because Jews are the “chosen people”, for instance).

          For whatever reason, people are just more receptive to the argument that women’s rights have to take a back seat to religious conscience.

          • Aimai says:

            For whatever reason? Because nowadays no one owns a slave but every man can have a girlfriend or a wife. So people have a different stake in sexism and misogyny than they do in out and out racism.

            • Dilan Esper says:

              That’s probably the explanation, though it’s so weird to me. It’s perfectly obvious to me that I and a lot of other males have benefitted from the women’s movement, both on a societal level (we have a more productive economy when we don’t ignore 50 percent of the talent) and an interpersonal one (traditional rules for relationships with the opposite sex were incredibly restrictive and foreclosed a lot of fun for people of both genders). Why would anyone really want to live in the pre-feminist world?

              Yet it’s clear that many men do, and sadly I think you are right about this.

          • Appleblossom says:

            The reason they have a hard time accepting the oppression of women is because it is a lot more insidious then the oppression of minorities.

          • Anon says:

            This. So much this.

  11. Trollhattan says:

    Only a matter of time before the Court holds that the Lannisters can do whatever the hell the Lannisters want, and there’s not a thing you can do about it. Because, Lannisters.

  12. Emily68 says:

    I don’t think the Hobby Lobby precedent will apply to transfusions or vaccinations because if/when those cases come before the Supreme Court, the 5 old men who think sex is icky and lady parts ickier, will say, “Oh, transfusions are totally different from contraceptives. Employers’ insurance has to provide stuff that I’m comfortable with. It’s only stuff I’m not comfortable with that they can refuse to provide.”

    • Anderson says:

      I keep thinking there’s an equal-protection angle here that should’ve decided the case differently. If my religion “just so happens” to discriminate vs. women, does the gov’t not have a compelling interest in treating the sexes equally?

      • STH says:

        I suspect Alito wouldn’t view this as an equal protection issue because he doesn’t seem to believe he’s placing any burden on women at all. He writes that a company couldn’t use the ruling as precedent to defend not covering vaccinations because that would have serious effects on public health. Access to birth control doesn’t? Is there any single thing that affects women’s health more than the availability of birth control or the alternative of either having child after child or never having a life partner?

        • Jeremy says:

          “He writes that a company couldn’t use the ruling as precedent to defend not covering vaccinations because that would have serious effects on public health.”

          This struck me as an especially weak part of a very weak opinion. Under the rationale in Hobby Lobby, an employer could very easily refuse to cover vaccinations, and any “vaccination mandate” would be struck down because there would be a less restrictive means of vaccinating people–i.e. the government paying for vaccinations itself. Thus, a vaccination mandate could never pass RFRA if the Hobby Lobby majority followed its own rule.

          By stating nevertheless that employers could not refuse to cover vaccinations, the opinion essentially carves out women’s reproductive care as being uniquely not-important-enough-to-be-required. It is thus impossible to read this opinion honestly as being anything other than hostile to women.

          It also raises the question of how the majority would resolve this internal inconsistency in future cases, and how the lower courts will apply this case. This mess of an opinion is sure to spawn terrible lower-court case law going forward.

          • Real Libertarian says:

            At least until someone points to any of the other preventive services that aren’t vaccinations and say “No sir, I don’t like it!” I mean, if it is my sincere belief that people who abuse drugs (including nicotine) or alcohol are so sinful they should be left to rot, I shouldn’t have to cover smoking/drug/alcohol cessation counseling.

    • Autonomous Coward says:

      I think this may be what the Five may tell themselves but I do not see why this limiting principle should be (indeed, how it can be) upheld.

      If we had a state church that would be one thing, but lacking such a church for the court to point at I can’t see how there is any realistic way to limit this decision.

      • gocart mozart says:

        Exactly, Alito’s “limiting principle” seems to be “Don’t worry, only conservative Christian religious beliefs will be considered by future courts.”

        • Kurzleg says:

          I can’t decide if Alito and company are really that naive or just choose to appear that way in the course of endorsing their preferred outcome. Kevin Drum commented recently about conservatism and creativity, how often conservative writers (or filmmakers) set out to write a “conservative” novel (as opposed to a novel informed by a conservative viewpoint; splitting hairs?) and how the resulting work is reliably bad. Seems to me the same dynamic is at work in the jurisprudence of Alito.

    • Bruce Baugh says:

      On the other hand, I can imagine them sympathizing with every raised objection to providing health care for the non-rich, undoing the ACA one fanatic at a time.

  13. cpinva says:

    wait a minute, let’s just stop right here!:

    “Beyond the meticulous narrowness of Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion, there’s the fact that racism is much less deeply woven into the fabric of Judeo-Christian scripture, doctrine, and theology than are traditionalist teachings on sex and gender.”

    the author, along with the “Fab Five”, the greens and all the currently raving GOP, buy into the existence of only two real religions: Judaism and Christianity. that alone creates an uncrossable fissure in their argument, that the tenets of these two, related, religions should be the default for the tenets of every other religion. clearly, in the real world, this isn’t the case.

    the major problem with Hobby Lobby is that it was never a case with its roots in the real world. the resulting other-worldly decision will, with next democratic justice, be tossed out on its ass, as the horrific, pseudo-legal beast that it is.

    the g.w. bush stain on our society will take far more than a quick dip in bleach to remove, it will need to be soaked, pre-wash, for a long time.

    • rea says:

      And, oh hell, if they don’t think that racism is deeply woven into the fabric of Judeo-Christian scripture, it must mean they haven’t read the Bible. The children of Ham get to be slaves, and let’s not even think about what G-d wants us to do to the Midianites.

      • mds says:

        Never mind the Midianites. Jonathan Edwards argued in defense of slavery; I guess he didn’t have much to do with doctrine or theology after all. The Southern Baptist Church was created to uphold the righteousness of slavery by splitting with Baptist abolitionists. Not “deeply woven”? The Latter Day Saints only officially elevated black people to co-equal status in 1978. (Prior to 2012, one might quibble with their inclusion in “Judeo-Christian,” but Franklin Graham doesn’t get takesies-backsies.) Bob Jones University didn’t change its religiously-justified “no blacks” policy until 1975. It only dropped its rules against interracial dating in 2000, and that only because of the hue and cry after George W. Bush came to curry favor with them for some mysterious reason.

        Gee, Damon, with your obviously deep grasp of the issues, why wouldn’t we take your advice?

        • Chocolate Covered Cotton says:

          Besides your examples of how deeply woven racism can be intrepreted to be in “Judeo-Christianity”, there’s also the bald assertion that traditionalist teachings on sex and gender are necessarily a part of “judeo-Christianity” as well, completely ignoring the existence of deep divisions among and within denominations. So, you Episcopalians, Reform Jews, Unitarian Universalists with your female or gay clergy don’t count. That is, that apparently only “traditionalist”, i.e. fundamentalist, churches count and all those others can just go screw.

          And yeah, since when does the wovenness of anything into “the fabric of Judeo-Christian scripture, doctrine, and theology” have any bearing on 1A cases?

    • the resulting other-worldly decision will, with next democratic justice, be tossed out on its ass, as the horrific, pseudo-legal beast that it is.

      But first – The lower courts will be flooded with eleven million cases arguing that Corporation X’s brand of discrimination should be classified as a Sincere Belief!

      Which is another problem with this decision.

    • Aimai says:

      Yes, that part–the casual assumption that there is such a thing as “judeo christian” religions and that those were the only ones worth considering at law just was jaw droppingly stupid.

      • N__B says:

        Has anyone yet tried to name a child Jude O. Christian?

        • cpinva says:

          I’d suggest Jude A.O. Christian, but that’s a tiny difference.

          aimai, I believe “jaw droppingly stupid” is the fall-back position of tea partiers/conservatives/republicans. it must be, because they so consistently fall back on it.

          “There probably are a few stray verses that people think have some relevance here but chunks of church doctrine is not based on scripture, but ongoing understanding of God’s law, often by personal inspiration.”

          most of what passes for “church doctrine” has little or nothing to do with anything jesus may have said/done, but what a bunch of guys wanted them to be (see: first council of nicea), and worked backwards from there, to find some tenuous support for it, in the now “official” gospels of the NT. oddly enough, these tenets just happened to perfectly fit in with Constantine’s personal agenda. what a coincidence!

          subsequent rulemaking is just more man-driven desires, foisted on the ignorant and illiterate as “god’s law”.

          • cpinva says:

            oops! what followed the quotation marks was not meant to be in italics.

            guys, i’ll happily contribute my first-born male child, for an edit function! hey, he’s (finally) potty trained, so that’s a pretty good deal.

      • DrS says:

        Shouldn’t we really be talking about “judeochristio Islam”?

    • Brownian says:

      Even if Linker was familiar with the tenets of either Judaism or Christianity, how is it possible to read an article titled “Why liberals should cheer the Hobby Lobby decision” that includes these paragraphs:

      Which leads, inevitably, to another objection: Couldn’t racist business owners use the reasoning in the Hobby Lobby case to claim religious exemption from statutes that ban discrimination against African-Americans?

      Answer: They can try, but they will fail.

      Beyond the meticulous narrowness of Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion, there’s the fact that racism is much less deeply woven into the fabric of Judeo-Christian scripture, doctrine, and theology than are traditionalist teachings on sex and gender. For that reason it is far more difficult to craft a religiously grounded case for racial discrimination.

      …and not notice that Linker is effectively saying, “Don’t worry; this is a decision you can cheer because it will only impact women, not minorities that true liberals actually care about”?

  14. john says:

    Not a Biblical scholar, so out of curiosity, what specific text do the Greens cite as the basis for their anti-contraception position? Not to be a strict doctrinaire, but shouldn’t there be done actual scripture associated with this, since it’s a core belief of theirs, supposedly?

    • Joe says:

      I was hearing this on a liberal radio station. It comes off like some desire for an originalist defense.

      Why should there be a “scriptural” defense for religious belief? The gospels speak of all these biblical proofs of Jesus, proofs that tend to be misunderstandings probably of what was originally intended to defend preexisting beliefs. It isn’t like the arguments stopped being “religious” for that being the case.

      There probably are a few stray verses that people think have some relevance here but chunks of church doctrine is not based on scripture, but ongoing understanding of God’s law, often by personal inspiration.

    • Manny Kant says:

      The Bible isn’t the be all and end all for what constitutes Christian beliefs. Catholics, for instance, generally view church teachings as being more important than the Biblical text.

      The Greens seem to be Pentecostals, so I’m not sure how that would work, specifically.

      • wjts says:

        Pentecostals, I think, are big on proof-texts, so the passage from Jeremiah quoted below might be all they need.

      • burritoboy says:

        No, us Catholics absolutely do not view Church teachings as more important than the Bible! Rather, the tradition of the Church (the Magisterium) teaches us (us Catholics or us as the Church) how to interpret the Bible, which remains primary. We view this as explicitly stated by Matthew 16:18 – Peter and his successors (i.e. the bishops, but in particular, the bishops of Rome)are appointed by Christ himself to continue to interpret and expound upon the Bible.

    • ralphdibny says:

      Most fundies cite the OT story of Onan, who spilled his seed and was punished by God.
      http://catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0663.html

    • Baby Needs-A-Nym says:

      There isn’t one. As others have pointed out before, the teaching against contraception is less than 100 years old in the Catholic Church, and contraception was widely endorsed by Protestant denominations in the middle of the 20th century. While the Bible has a lot to say about sex, it has essentially nothing to say about reproductive ethics. The best the “prolife” crowd can point to is a verse in Jeremiah (1:5): “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” That’s pretty weak as an argument, if you ask me, but they insist that it means a fetus is a person.

      • mds says:

        That’s pretty weak as an argument, if you ask me

        Yup. Given that it’s God talking specifically to Jeremiah about his uniquely foreordained role as a prophet, it’s weak to the point of nonexistent. It’s like claiming that Buffy the Vampire Slayer means everybody has innate superhuman vampire-fighting powers.

      • …contraception was widely endorsed by Protestant denominations in the middle of the 20th century until Obama was elected.

        • mds says:

          While apparently true in the context of the Green family, the late 70′s fundamentalist Protestant pivot on abortion began to erode support for Griswold as well as Roe, possibly as a result of the strengthening bonds between Protestant and Catholic reactionary activists.

      • Aimai says:

        But just because that happens “before” the womb doesn’t mean that the thing in the womb is Jeremiah. It could be referring to something called a soul which, in the Jewish tradition, comes into the body after birth, not before.

        • Shakezula says:

          I take it to mean “I knew you before you were a twinkle in your daddy’s eye.” Since Yahweh is an omnipotent, omniscient being that shouldn’t be a challenge. Saying “No, God can only know a person after his parents do the nasty,” seems to cast doubt on the omniscient bit.

          But what do I know? I’m not a True Believer, so you’ll never see me holding a sign asking people to consider what would have happened if the Virgin Mary had had an abortion.

    • Linnaeus says:

      Here you might be getting in the problem of having the courts adjudicate the content of religious belief.

    • Anderson says:

      There’s a psalm about “before I was formed in the womb, you knew me” that they like to cite. I was mocking that the other day, and am always happy to quote myself:

      “Now let’s see,” God muttered to Himself. “I don’t want them aborting any babies – nasty business, that – could have had Moses say something about that in Deuteronomy … but no, anyhow I’ve got that how I want it … Hm, maybe toss something into a psalm, yes that’s the ticket, I’ve forgotten whatever rhyme or reason those had in the first place … nothing too DIRECT now, mind, let them work those proud brains of theirs a bit – ah I’ve got it! ‘Before I formed you in your mother’s womb, I knew you …’ -clear as a bell! Now, what about those lesbians? must have a word with Paul … never thought of such nastiness when Moses was copying My words down ….”

      • Trollhattan says:

        Something, something, something “Be fruitful and solve quadratic equations” something, something, “fill the earth with whipped cream and subdue it….”

    • wjts says:

      For Catholicism, Tradition is as about as important as Scripture.

      • NonyNony says:

        For Catholicism, Tradition is as about as important as Scripture.

        Tradition is more important than Scripture in practice. Because Scripture is only valid if you’re interpreting it the right way, and the right way to interpret it is dictated by Tradition.

        In truth, even as an atheist I’m biased to see this as a somewhat healthier way to understand Christianity than the “sola scriptura” method of a lot of Protestants. Because the “divine inspiration” of the Bible really needs to be weighed against the fact that its contents (and in many cases verbiage) were designed by committee over a few hundred years.

        • pillsy says:

          FWIW, it also seems more consistent with the actual text that the fundies try to use to justify treating the Bible as, say, a geology textbook, or saying that “a beast with ten horns and seven crowns” is a literal reference to the UN.

        • dn says:

          Oh, undoubtedly the Catholic way makes more sense. There’s absolutely no way to form a coherent doctrine otherwise – countless “heretics” in history have backed up their claims with readings of Scripture that are at least as plausible as the official ones.

          James Joyce knows what’s up:

          — Then, said Cranly, you do not intend to become a protestant?
          — I said that I had lost the faith, Stephen answered, but not that I had lost self-respect. What kind of liberation would that be to forsake an absurdity which is logical and coherent and to embrace one which is illogical and incoherent?

          • dn says:

            Oh, and from reading Diarmaid MacCullough’s The Reformation recently, I learned quite a bit about how obvious the problem was even in Luther’s day – Luther himself, the patron saint of sola scriptura, continued to insist on all sorts of traditional beliefs (particularly about Marian doctrine) that had little biblical basis and which none of his followers would accept, much to his consternation.

      • Hogan says:

        Of course. There was a Church before there was a Bible. The Church decided what went into the Bible and what didn’t. The Bible is part of (but only part of) tradition.

    • drkrick says:

      Sola Scriptura, the idea that only doctrines that can be supported explicitly from the Bible are legitimate, originated with Martin Luther and his allies. Christianity existed for about 1500 years without it and most Christians even today are associated with denominations that don’t accept it. I don’t know where the Greens’ church stands on it, but “where is it in the Bible?” isn’t a very reliable gotcha for Christians in general.

  15. john says:

    Remember when somebody made the argument that Samuel Alito would not be as rabidly reactionary as he seemed to be once he was appointed to a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court? That was a good one.

    • Phoenix Rising says:

      Yeah, an appropriate punishment would be for anyone who said that to have an ovarian cyst rupture every day until she dies. Which won’t take long, because you lose about a pint of blood when that happens, and it’s tough on the liver to absorb all those fluids…

      Hormonal contraception is for sluts who can’t keep an aspirin between their knees, though.

  16. Sly says:

    Beyond the meticulous narrowness of Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion, there’s the fact that racism is much less deeply woven into the fabric of Judeo-Christian scripture, doctrine, and theology than are traditionalist teachings on sex and gender. For that reason it is far more difficult to craft a religiously grounded case for racial discrimination.

    So, if I am to understand this white hot mess of an argument correctly, religious beliefs that require racial discrimination do not provide an exemption from neutral laws of general applicability because… those aren’t the beliefs of “real Christians”?

    This goes beyond the question of whether or not its appropriate for the state to adjudicate the sincerity of a (natural or, now, artificial) person’s religious beliefs, but into the realm of the legitimacy of those beliefs. And I’d never thought I’d witness someone so fundamentally incompetent regarding the traditions of American political thought that they suggest that Americans liberals ought to desire that the Supreme Court of the United States serve as a theocratic council.

    • Yolo Contendere says:

      I’m more bothered by the fact that apparently if racism was more deeply woven into religious practice, it would apparently be A-OK to discriminate. I guess the LDS’s just needed to keep the faith.

  17. Joe says:

    private entities like churches and business

    The word “private” is abused here. It is akin to those who railed against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 since they had a right to privacy to keep black people from their shops.

    For-profit corporations are “public” in a variety of ways, down to the source of the immunity that creates the “artificial” person here. This warrants, unlike for “churches” and “homes,” more regulation. Churches have the right, e.g., to keep people out. Businesses generally speaking can be required to take all comers.

    • liberalrob says:

      It is akin to those who railed against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 since they had a right to privacy to keep black people from their shops.

      Pretty sure that’s part of the long game, here. “Oh, it’s not ALL corporations that can discriminate, just closely-held ones.” “Well, really it doesn’t make any sense for some corporations to be exempted and others not; that’s just not fair. So let’s just go one step further and tidy that up, let all corporations discriminate.” “Well, corporations are groups of people, and we let them discriminate; it’s kind of silly to say a group can discriminate but individuals can’t. So let’s tidy that up some more and just let all businesses discriminate.”

      Nope, no slippery slope here. Trust us!

  18. jon says:

    I think we need some means testing for these claims of faith. Are you really, Catholic, or Christian, or whatnot? Prove it. We have a Board of Examiners who will ask you a few simple questions. And we’d better renew this certification every six months. Wrong answers may result in a reduction or denial of your exemption. And let’s throw in a piss test, too. Just for fun. Gotta keep our high moral tone somehow.

    • Anderson says:

      I think we need some means testing for these claims of faith.

      The Bible supplies a good one:

      Jesus replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

      The Court will now adjourn to the nearest convenient mountain, at which time Plaintiff will demonstrate his faith or lack thereof.

      • NonyNony says:

        Plaintiff: Objection your honor – my faith is Pastafarianism and our deity has never said anything that stupid

        Alito: Overruled – false faiths can’t have true beliefs. If your belief isn’t roughly the same as Roman Catholocism Christianity then your religion isn’t real.

        • Autonomous Coward says:

          (PS: Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Scientists, and Mormons need not apply.)

        • tsam says:

          I can’t believe these guys laugh at people who are scared to death to break a mirror or cross the path of a black cat, but seem perfectly content in their own goofy superstition. Maybe it’s because they have a poorly translated user manual?

          • Anderson says:

            FWIW, I have my own reading of the “mustard seed” verse, which is that Jesus was mocking the expectation of “faith”: he knew the disciples didn’t fully believe him or even understand him, and by extension, if the disciples who saw him & his miracles didn’t, then why would Jesus expect more of people 2000 years later?

            (Note for my never-to-be-published book on Skeptical Christianity.)

            • Baby Needs-A-Nym says:

              It’s not hard to read the New Testament and come away wondering if Jesus was mocking the very concept of religion.

              • Anderson says:

                “Jesus told his Jews: ‘The law was meant for servants–love God as I love him, as his son! What do we sons of God care about morality?’”

                –Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, # 164. “Religion” would indeed have been a better word than “morality.”

            • tsam says:

              I see it that way too–I thought that when I read it the first time. Jesus was a subversive dude, by the accounts printed. Problem is that Christofascists don’t read good.

    • Sly says:

      I think we need some means testing for these claims of faith.

      Ask the officers of the corporation to say the word “shibboleth” before granting the charter.

    • liberalrob says:

      I think we need some means testing for these claims of faith.

      Here’s a few: Trial by Ordeal (wikipedia)

      I’m kind of partial to the Ordeal of Fire, Persian “pour molten metal on their chest” variant.

    • Hogan says:

      Build a bridge out of them.

  19. tsam says:

    So basically this fuckface is saying that the rights of the individual, while important, take a backseat to the beliefs of a corporation, which doesn’t have a sentient mind and is therefore incapable of having a belief.

    Seems legit.

    • Anonymous says:

      So basically this fuckface is saying that the rights of the individual, while important, take a backseat to the beliefs of a corporation

      The law that allows this was promulgated by the Democrats, voted for by Chuck Schumer, Patty Murray, Harry Reid and even Diane Feinstein and signed into law by Bill Cllinton.

      All the courts did was make a decision if what they passed as law was in violation of the constitution or not.

      If you don’t like any of this, you should be fuming at those who passed this law.

      • tsam says:

        I’m fuming at the utter lack of pancakes and I want my obamaphone and a purple pony.

      • tsam says:

        But since you’re a complete dumbass and incapable of comprehension, let me make this clear for you: The RFRA was designed to protect the individual’s free practice. It was never designed to allow a bunch of stupid assholes to deprive women of health care because they’re stupid assholes and want to deprive women of health care.

        • Anonymous says:

          My business is incorporated. I am the sole owner.

          Because I choose to incorporate, that means I lose my rights??

          I believe Hobby Lobby has 5 or less owners. They, too, should lose all rights?

          • wjts says:

            My business is incorporated. I am the sole owner.

            OK, but let’s be honest: calling what you own a “business” stretches the definition of that word to the breaking point.

          • International House of Pancakes says:

            My pancake is incorporated. I am the sole eater.

            Because I choose to incorporate, that means I lose my syrup??

            I believe Hobby Lobby has 5 or less pancakes. They, too, should lose all griddles?

          • Autonomous Coward says:

            Let’s say you start The Stupid Internet Troll Corporation, it is a separate “person” for legal purposes (the hint in in the word “incorporation” itself: “corpus” from the Latin for body).

            So yes, you do lose “your rights” because the corporation isn’t you anymore. If it were it would be an SP.

            What you (and SCOTUS) have not provided a reasonable explanation of is why you would assume that the separate personage of SITC would share your religion.

            And this is ignoring the blasphemous suggestion that a corporation (an artificial person, a creation solely of man) has a god-given soul, because I do not labor under your delusion that my personal religious pecadillos should be imposed upon all.

            • Anonymous says:

              It’s substance over form in closely held corps.

              The form certainly is a corporation. But in substance, these are 5 or less *people* owning and running a business.

              And as 5 or less people, they don’t lose all their rights simply because they choose to use that business form for tax purposes or legal protection, etc.

              • rea says:

                So, if an employee accidently injures someone, do we get to sue the owners personally? If the corporation doesn’t pay its bills, will the owners have to pay them?

                • rooster says:

                  What’s suing got to do with religious rights, anyways?

                  Here’s the alternative: Have NO corporations and see who will invest money when the risk is unlimited.

                  Who will build cars when the owners have unlimited liability and could lost everything.

                  Who rolls the dice continually with everything always on the table?

                  This place would come to a grinding halt.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Here’s the alternative: Have NO corporations and see who will invest money when the risk is unlimited.

                  No, the alternative is not pretending corporations have religious agency.

                • Elizabeth says:

                  This is in reply to rooster, but there’s no “reply” button in his comment.

                  Let me explain something about the corporate form. The whole point of it is that it is an entity legally separate from you. In return for this legally privileged treatment, you have to treat it as a separate entity. You can’t use it as your personal piggy bank, you can’t use its assets for your personal needs, you have to observe corporate formalities (having formal corporate documents, maintaining records, having separate accounts), etc.

                  If you don’t do these things—if you, instead, treat the corporation as though it’s just an alter ego of yourself—you will not be permitted to hide behind the legal fiction that it is a separate entity. Instead, the corporation’s creditors will be permitted to go after your personal assets. This is standard corporate law all over the country, well-understood by lawyers.

                  This is why the Hobby Lobby decision is so jaw-dropping. The notion that the corporation somehow takes on the religious beliefs of its owners violates every principle of corporate personhood there is. It’s just ludicrous, and the five justices in the majority know that. They can’t possibly believe that their “reasoning” is convincing to anyone with even a little bit of familiarity with what a corporation is.

              • Autonomous Coward says:

                The owners of SITC are not the actors in this situation, SITC is. SITC is a separate “person” for the purposes of liability, taxation, and similar.

                You still haven’t explained why the religious beliefs of the owners of SITC pass through to SITC. Or how a corporation can have a religion.

                Ultimately (on a pragmatic level) the real problem is is that there’s no way for lower courts to use this ruling as a useful guide to future rulings. Why, exactly, can a JW-owned company not refuse to cover transfusions? The only thing the decision is that those 5 are imposing what they think are legitimate and illegitimate religious objections. There’s no test here, beyond “Ask Sammy Alito what his fee-fees are”.

                If I *were* a minarchist-type conservative I would be aghast at this ruling because it’s apparently created a one-man inquisition.

                • rooster says:

                  You still haven’t explained why the religious beliefs of the owners of SITC pass through to SITC

                  That’s the default unless the law says otherwise. Why wouldn’t it be?
                  Why would I lose my individual first amendment rights because I choose a particular form of business that is made available to me?

                • rooster says:

                  Many law and accounting firms are large parnerships. They are not incorporated.

                  Would you then be OK with those partnerships denying certain types of birth control to their employee in the healthcare package?

                  OK now?

              • Bufflars says:

                What rights have the 5 or fewer owners of a closely held corporation lost by having to comply with the PPACA in order to get tax breaks? No one is forcing Hobby Lobby or its owners to provide health care that includes contraception. They are *choosing* to do so for the tax benefits that the government elects to provide to companies that provide qualifying health care plans that have to meet certain standards.

              • Brad Nailer says:

                They haven’t lost their rights. No one is telling them that as individuals they cannot exercise whatever religion they happen to believe in. What’s wrong is to give them additional rights as corporate officers to somehow have the legal fiction of their corporation embody their personal religious beliefs.

                • rooster says:

                  So, you would be OK with the same actions Hobby Lobby took as long as they were an unincorporated Schedule C business?

                • Brad Nailer says:

                  To rooster: No. What I’m saying, in my layman’s way that can’t differentiate business types, is that business owners–let us call them “employers”–of any kind already have First Amendment rights as individuals. The Supreme Court has just granted them additional rights by allowing their personal beliefs to be literally embodied in their particular businesses, and this apparently to the detriment of a single class of people: employees wanting to purchase birth control under their medical insurance packages.

                  Why the twofer for business owners?

                • Real Employer says:

                  @ Brad,

                  There are many businesses that are not incorporated that may have hundreds of employees such as law and accounting firms. These firms do not enjoy the protection of the corporate form. They are acting as individuals in concert with the rights of individuals.

                  So, if a large law firm decides to not offer some forms of BC because of their collective religious objections, would that now be OK with you?

                • Real Employer says:

                  this apparently to the detriment of a single class of people:

                  Another thought is this is standard stuff.

                  Affirmative Action also is detrimental to a single class, even RACE, of people and it doesn’t seem to be a problem. Race preference hiring in government also doesn’t seem to be an issue.

                  It seems this is usual for government to do. You just like it when it suites your agenda and don’t like it when it doesn’t.

            • rooster says:

              What you (and SCOTUS) have not provided a reasonable explanation of is why you would assume that the separate personage of SITC would share your religion.

              That’s where the ‘closely held’ 5 stockholders or less rule comes in. Certainly, in a large corporation such as GM, the diversity of views on religion would make it impossible for the corporation to have one viewpoint on religion. But a few owners working closely together will most likely have the same viewpoint or at least be able to agree on this issue and run their business accordingly.

          • NonyNony says:

            What rights would they have lost if they lost this case?

            Enumerate them. Be specific please.

            • Anonymous says:

              They would lose their rights that RFRA gave them in the first place.

              Democrats crafted this law to give them these rights…to protect them from government intrusion of their religious freedom.

              I can understand that if you’re not religious, you probably don’t give a flying fuck about other peoples’ religious rights.

              • NonyNony says:

                No – what are the rights that the RFRA gave them?

                I asked you to “be specific”.

                What specific religious practice rights would they have lost if the Court had ruled against them.

                As an example – the case that prompted the RFRA in the first place was because a Native American lost his job and was denied unemployment benefits because his religious practice included a sacrament where peyote was ingested. The RFRA restored his right to ingest peyote as a sacrament without fear of being fired. Or would have, you know, if the Supreme Court didn’t later rule that the RFRA wasn’t valid for protecting him from the state laws that caused him to lose his job and his unemployment benefits.

                So again – what right to a sacrament or other religious expression do you think the Hobby Lobby owners would have lost had they lost this case?

                You don’t even know what you’re defending, do you?

                • liberalrob says:

                  Since he’s not going to give an honest answer, for those scoring at home his answer is “the corporate owners would lose their [supposed] right to prevent other people from using part of their compensation in a way the corporate owners disagreed with.” See, that wasn’t so hard, was it.

                  Next up on the derpgenda: it shouldn’t be illegal for closely-held corporations to pay their employees in scrip that is only legal tender at the company store. After all, compensation for work is a privilege, not a right (show me where in the Constitution it says you have to get paid for your work).

                • Employer-Provided Welfare State says:

                  what right to a sacrament or other religious expression do you think the Hobby Lobby owners would have lost had they lost this case?

                  Mmmmm…the right not to be forced into killing babies?

                • Trollhattan says:

                  Mmmmm…the right not to be forced into killing babies?

                  Uh, they were being forced to give their employees firearms with baby ammo? That is bad!

                • FlipYrWhig says:

                  Mmmmm…the right not to be forced into killing babies?

                  So that’s unpainted birdhouses in Aisle 6, balsa wood in Aisle 7, abortions in Aisle 8, and rhinestones on 9, then?

                • Col Bat Guano says:

                  Uh, they were being forced to give their employees firearms with baby ammo? That is bad!

                  No, it’s worse. They would have been forced to shoot the babies themselves!

                • NonyNony says:

                  Mmmmm…the right not to be forced into killing babies?

                  No. That is explicitly NOT the right provided here. If it was, then the Court would have required Hobby Lobby to explain how purchasing a compliant health insurance product forced them to kill babies. In fact the Court did not make it a requirement that any of their beliefs actually be true it only required that they believe them to be true.

                  Try again. I applaud your use of small words, but you have to use truthful small words to get the answer to this one.

          • tsam says:

            You have your right to free practice. Your employees have their right. You do NOT have the right to make choices about health care for your employees.

            • Anonymous says:

              No one is saying employees can’t use these methods. what they’re saying is government doesn’t have the right to force Hobby to PAY for them.
              You have a right to a firearm. I’m still not going to PAY for your gun.

              Buy your own fuckin’ gun

              • liberalrob says:

                Your gun ownership analogy is faulty. Guns are not commonly part of employee benefit packages.

                The health care “benefit” is part of the compensation paid to the employee. Do you think a corporation should be able to tell an employee to not donate to candidates for office who are pro-choice because it violates the corporate owner’s religious beliefs? That’s no different from saying the health insurance coverage we give you as part of your pay can’t be used for abortions or buying birth control. It’s telling the employee what they can do with their compensation. We don’t allow that in this country.

                If an employee refuses the corporate health insurance “benefit” because it doesn’t cover birth control, their options on the free market become quite limited and far more expensive. So that imposes an extra burden on employees who want or need coverage that the corporate owners object to.

              • Autonomous Coward says:

                Hobby Lobby had a remedy to this supposed religion objection that they chose not to employ: stop offering insurance, pay employees cash only, and lose the tax benefits for insurance provision.

                That the court never called them to account for this would be breathtaking if it weren’t so depressingly stupid.

              • Craigo says:

                Hobby Lobby isn’t paying for them; the health insurance that their employees earn in lieu of other compensation is paying for them.

          • tsam says:

            I’m half owner of an S Corp. I wouldn’t be losing any rights by allowing my employees to make their own decisions about their health. Neither would you. If you can’t understand this, you shouldn’t be in business. Of course, this is the internet, so I’m convinced that you aren’t the sole owner of anything other than a bag of pork rinds and a dog-eared Bible that you need help reading.

            • NonyNony says:

              Feh – he doesn’t own a Bible.

              Also – he probably has to share the pork rinds.

            • Anonymous says:

              Anybody with any sense that is self-employed incorporates. I save a ton of money on self-employment taxes and it protects me from our litigious society.
              It’s really not an option anymore.

              • solidcitizen says:

                And the government should be able to say that when you set up a corporation, in exchange for saving all that tax money and being protected (by the government) against lawsuits, you have to follow the rules. One of those rules is that you have to provide your employees with adequate health care as the government defines it. If you don’t like it, if it violates the conscious of your corporation (see how stupid that sounds?) you can pay more in taxes and personally liable for lawsuits.

                It’s pretty simple. Obviously, five members of the Supreme Court disagree. They are wrong.

                • Autonomous Coward says:

                  There’s an intermediate step you’ve missed: a corporation can choose to not offer health insurance (and lose the tax benefits).

                • FlipYrWhig says:

                  Yup. Aren’t corporations chartered in the public interest?

                • rooster says:

                  There’s another intermediate step. Employees that don’t like it and believe they can do better can quit and get a job with an employer that has the coverage they want.

                  It’s called “at will”.

          • JustRuss says:

            Yes, you lose the right to impose your beliefs on your employees. Poor oppressed you.

            • tsam says:

              Yeah, he lost the right that the Constitution took away from him in 1789.

            • Anonymous says:

              Poor oppressed you.

              I’m not the one with the butt hurt, here.

              Court rules the way that I would have wanted them to.

              Poor YOU

              • Aimai says:

                So why aren’t you happy? Isn’t this enough for you? The Supreme Court has literally fucked over all the women workers at Hobby Lobby and their families, and any women working for closely held corporations composed of assholes as well. Why aren’t you celebrating? Why are you hanging around here? You should be out raping some Hobby Lobby worker,s ure in the knowledge that your sperm has more rights than she does.

                • rooster says:

                  Hobby Lobby pays twice the minimum wage for starters even when they don’t have to.

                  Those that work there say it’s a GREAT place to work. And they cover 75% of the available birth control.

                  You need to talk to the employees ‘cuz they’re not the ones that are whining.

                • Col Bat Guano says:

                  So, if they cut their wages in half then it would be bad? Somehow, I don’t think the personal feelings of the employees is the standard to shoot for.

                • bspencer says:

                  How the hell do you know that, rooster? You interview all of them?

        • rooster says:

          So, you would be OK with the same actions Hobby Lobby took as long as they were not incorporated?

      • Autonomous Coward says:

        Did you just to “Even the Liberal…” Diane-fucking-Feinstein?

        My sides, they ache.

        • Anonymous says:

          Your butt hurts.

          I’ve been surprised and, yes, entertained at the amount of panty-wadding about this court decision.

          get over it already

          • Autonomous Coward says:

            That’s… not actually a response to anything I wrote.

            • Sly says:

              The rules of conservative discourse demand that “being an asshole” be accepted as a legitimate form of argumentation.

              • Margret Dumont says:

                I am shocked, yes shocked, at this lack of civility!

                Bring me my pearls and a divan! I feel a clutch-and-faint coming on!

              • Jeremy says:

                The rules of conservative discourse demand that “being an asshole” be accepted as a legitimate form of argumentation./blockquote>
                Next Damon Linker column: “Why true liberalism demands being respectful to internet trolls.”

            • International House of Pancakes says:

              Be fair. JenKnob has only absorbed the basic RW talking points.

              If you press him to support his arguments with anything but repeated cries of religious rights and lies statements of his sincere belief that he’s a business owner, he will have to fall back on poo flinging and derp.

      • BigHank53 says:

        I’ll believe Hobby Lobby is a sincere Christian when I see one of stores climb out of its parking lot and hike on over to the church on Sunday morning. It’s a thing, even if it’s granted some limited rights.

      • JustRuss says:

        I can’t help being amused by the placement of “even” in front of Diane Feinstein, who is of course the ultimate liberal.

        • tsam says:

          Feinstein agrees with us, why don’t you? Feinstein is wholly in favor of a dystopian police state where an unchecked intelligence apparatus has unlimited access to anything they want. Very liberal of her.

          Yeah, not a good example for the troll to pick–especially singling her out as the standard bearer for liberalism.

          • Bill Murray says:

            Feinstein is wholly in favor of a dystopian police state where an unchecked intelligence apparatus has unlimited access to anything they want. Very liberal of her.

            well except when the intelligence apparatus investigates Senators such as herself. She is definitely not in favor of that. But all other investigations are go

        • Autonomous Coward says:

          I know, right?

          The rest of the post is just rightst Peanuts Grownup talk but the “even Diane Feinstein” was a legitimate “wat?” moment.

          And the trolls around here usually provide so few of those.

  20. James Wimberley says:

    Let’s at least enjoy the Jesuitical subtlety of the arrangement created by Sebelius for religious organizations and extended by Alito to closed corporations. The group policy for which the Hobby Lobby sends a monthly cheque to the insurance company does not cover, oh no, the polluting icky contraceptives. But the insurance company is required by law to reimburse these to the employee, just outside the policy. (Contraception saves insurance companies money, so there’s no net cost to them.) The saucepans have to be different, the envelopes plain kraft paper, the effect double ….

  21. rea says:

    The next case dealing with the contraception mandate is going to be the one where the employer is a religious organization, and argues that the Administration’s work-around (“Oh, you don’t have to pay for contraception! We’ll just have your insurer cover it without charging you!”) violates the RFRA. Hobby Lobby foreshadows that the employer loses that case, because, Alito relies on that very work-around to say that the religious objections can be accommodated without harm to employees. If that’s the way it actually works out, then Hobby Lobby is going to look like no big deal.

    • pillsy says:

      “If”. I am not so sanguine about this. I don’t know if Roberts and Kennedy would go along with such blatant two-facedness, but I expect there are at least three votes for rejecting the accommodation for religious non-profits.

    • NonyNony says:

      It’ll still be a big deal in the sense that now there’s precedent for a for-profit corporation to declare that it has a religious affiliation that should be taken into consideration as far as regulation by the Feds goes. Which is frankly a pretty big deal AFAICT.

      I also predict that if the court goes 5-4 to throw out the workaround that they assumed would be here for Hobby Lobby, that Ruth Bader Ginsberg may go apeshit enough that Alito and Kennedy each receive a kick in the balls. It may be a metaphorical kick in the balls, or it may be an actual one.

      (I actually suspect that it will be 5-4 to keep the work around, and that Alito after writing this opinion will side against the work around. Because reasons. My instinct is that Kennedy won’t be on board after going to pains to respond to Ginsberg’s criticism of this case that he’ll feel that he has to agree that the workaround is valid somehow. But I don’t see Alito having any problems torpedoing the workaround after using it to justify his decision here.)

  22. Pupienus Maximus says:

    This mode of argument — “this case presents a clash between potentially legitimate interests, so in conclusion, I win” — is, to put it mildly, unsatisfying.

    Just call it what it is, namely sophistry.

  23. Mr. Madame Psychosis says:

    But wait! Isn’t that contradictory?

    Of course it is. Just like life itself.

    I would genuinely be interested to hear the ways that he believes life, itself, is contradictory.

    War is peace. Ignorance is strength. Fiction is fact?

    • International House of Pancakes says:

      Damon Linker is intelligent and articulate.

    • Autonomous Coward says:

      I’m sorry, you don’t get anything but a scoff from me if, in a (purportedly serious) opinion piece, you summon the ineffable mysteries of the cosmos as a defense.

      It put me more in mind of this (from America’s finest news source).

  24. Glen Allen says:

    The outrage on the left is about symbolism, not substance. Read this : http://www.cato.org/blog/republic-gilead-not-night

    Still, in an ideal world, we’d stop forcing employers to pay for insurance altogether and shop for personal, individualized plans under a system of free competition and consumer choice.

    Of course this involves actually paying for stuff, something the left doesn’t believe it’s supporters should have to do. Free contraception is just the latest after free food (WIC, food stamps) free housing (Section 8 which ruined many suburban neighborhoods in my county), free laptops in schools, free this,free that…all coming from the taxpayer, who seems to be the only one who works anymore. I not only have to work for my family, but for other families on aforementioned benefits. It’s wrong and it’s unsustainable .

    • Still, in an ideal world, we’d stop forcing employers to pay for insurance altogether and shop for personal, individualized plans under a system of free competition and consumer choice.

      Nobody in the world wants that because it sucks, so every country that’s worth living in reduces the amount of shopping you have to do to get treated.

    • Aimai says:

      The contraception isn’t free–its paid for by the employees premiums and by the employer’s tax benefitted contributions. So if you were “paying” for anything you were paying to subsidize the employer’s side of things because your tax dollars paid them so they could pay their own workers less and use the health insurance as a form of salary. If you don’t like it rather than attacking the workers you might consider attacking the Greens for cheerfully accepting a government handout instead of paying their workers a living wage that covers privately purchased insurance.

    • pillsy says:

      Still, in an ideal world, we’d stop forcing employers to pay for insurance altogether and shop for personal, individualized plans under a system of free competition and consumer choice.

      Again, Hobby Lobby chose to offer a group healthcare plan to its employees because it provides for a more efficient way to provide compensation to those employees, in large measure because of tax breaks for employers that do this–the majority opinion in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby makes this clear as day. “Compensation”, by the way, is a key word here, because we’re not talking about something that employees get for free, here–it’s something they get as compensation for their labor.

      You fucking moron.

    • Shakezula says:

      In an ideal world trolls would say something original.

      I imagine a life in which the toughest thing you do all day is decide which hand you’ll take off your dick in order to copy/paste the latest reheated talking points into a comments section has left the old grey matter a little dusty, but just try to come up with something that hasn’t been said a thousand times before.

    • Baby Needs-A-Nym says:

      Still angry about that ten cent pizza tax, huh?

      • Glen Allen says:

        I’m angry the school system couldn’t cut out the waste rather than asking the taxpayers to pay more and more. The funding crisis could have easily been solved by making teachers teach six classes instead of five at the middle and high level, for example. The schools could have laid off the excess teachers and pass the savings to the taxpayer, but I guess that made too much sense.

        • Brandon says:

          Easily fixed by violating the terms of their employment contracts? And by packing ever more students into the classrooms while firing others so that you could save $0.10 on a pizza? Yes, that just makes perfect sense.

        • Real Libertarian says:

          Why stop there, wastrel? Just assign one teacher per grade and have kids take their lessons in an empty field. They can forage for lunch while they’re out there.

          Stop the handouts!

        • Autonomous Coward says:

          What’s the most classes you’ve taught in a semester?

          Since you won’t answer that: how would you feel about an across-the-board 20% increase in your workload (or a 17% decrease in your effective wage)?

          More broadly, you’ve been a big proponent of the “cut pay, end tenure” thing. Could you please provide me the microeconomic analysis on why you think paying teachers less will raise quality?

    • Elizabeth says:

      Would you please stop with the “free” crap. Employer-paid health benefits are EARNED, just like a paycheck. Unless you think that when you spend your paycheck on stuff, it’s actually your employer paying for it.

    • Hogan says:

      Here’s a ball. Perhaps you’d like to bounce it.

    • Col Bat Guano says:

      I not only have to work for my family, but for other families on aforementioned benefits. It’s wrong and it’s unsustainable .

      Poor baby.

      • Col Bat Guano says:

        Also, thank you for clarifying the endgame for us. While we were worrying about a slippery slope where gradually more and more rights were taken away in small increments, you jump right to the point that if you’re poor you shouldn’t get food, shelter or health care. I hope you end up unemployed very soon.

      • rooster says:

        I not only have to work for my family, but for other families on aforementioned benefits. It’s wrong and it’s unsustainable

        That’s exactly what the socialists like. Punish the earners. Reward the slackers.

        It’s a great system. Just look at Greece, Spain or Cuba!

        • Col Bat Guano says:

          Your understanding of socialism seems fairly shallow if you believe that Greece and Spain are socialist and that there problems stemmed from government spending. Of course what can I expect from a conservative?

  25. DAS says:

    In re how it is that businesses can have religions, from my quick and non-expert (IANAL after all) skimming of the Hobby Lobby decision, Alito relies on Gallagher v Crown Kosher to establish that requiring a (closely held) business to do or not to do something that would cause a substantial burden to the owners’ ability to practice their religion freely is just not something we do here in America. Of course, in Gallagher, SCOTUS ultimately ruled that since the purpose of MA’s blue laws was secular, even if those laws discriminated against people observing a particular faith (viz, Jews), those blue laws were not unconstitutional. By the logic of Gallagher, therefore, Hobby Lobby has no case as the birth control “mandate” is not religiously motivated.

    Of course, Alito is free to make an “even in Gallagher, the majority who ruled against Crown Kosher agreed that closely held businesses can be said to have a religion since laws which require the business to do something against the owners’ religion certainly burden the owners’ religious freedoms” … especially considering that, two years later, SCOTUS ruled in Sherbert (which was restored by statute via the RFRA) that even laws with a solely secular purpose can be unconstitutional or at least must have an exemption allowed if they substantially burden religious practice and there is an easier way to accomplish the secular goal of the law. But, from my skimming of the opinion, that’s not quite what Alito argues.

    Of course the kicker is that Warren, Black and Clark managed to find cause to rule in favor of Sherbert even after ruling against Crown Kosher. Did their beliefs in re religious freedom “evolve” that much from 1961 to 1963 or were they just more inclined to rule in favor of a seventh day Sabbath observing Christian than in favor of Jews?

  26. pillsy says:

    I’m sorry, Scott, but your post really doesn’t do justice to the tidal wave of rancid ass yogurt that is Linker’s post:

    Will women who happen to work for that exempted church, business, or corporation be adversely impacted? Yes, they will. But by how much? At a time when contraception is relatively inexpensive and the vast majority of people living in poverty can afford to own microwaves, televisions, and cellphones, I’m willing to wager that in most cases the burden will be relatively slight. Especially because Hobby Lobby also already covers 16 of the 20 forms of contraception included in the mandate, objecting only to those it considers to be abortifacients.

    Yes, it just isn’t possible one of the four forms of contraception that the Greens decided violated their religious scruples because a Democrat is in office might cost a good deal more than a television, microwave or cellphone. Never mind that you can get a really nice TV for less than $200 these days.

    But it’s also a liberal position to accept that not everyone agrees with the liberal position on every issue — and that those who dissent remain our neighbors and fellow citizens. This is their country, too. Until liberals begin taking that vision of tolerant generosity to heart, they will fall short of what liberalism at its best demands and requires.

    It’s awfully big of Linker to be so generous with other people’s healthcare.

    • Glen Allen says:

      Pillowy, generic birth control can be had for $25/month. If you can’t afford that you’ve got bigger problems than trying to have recreational sex. And people in “poverty” are almost always also receiving food housing and heating subsidies from the taxpayer. They have the cash to get the pills if they want them.

      • pillsy says:

        Generic birth control is not suitable for every woman and every circumstance. That is, in fact, a large part of the reason we have many forms of birth control, including forms that don’t involve taking pills at all.

        You fucking moron.

        • Glen Allen says:

          You can get comdoms at any gas station bathroom for less than a dollar.

          Again if you’re that hard up for cash maybe you should be having priorities other than recreational sex.

          • Elizabeth says:

            Are you, in fact, a sociopath? Conservatives are always ranting about how our society does not respect marriage. Do you understand what “marriage” is, and that sexual intimacy plays a role in it?

            • Craigo says:

              Yes, he is. It’s actually rather refreshing that Glen he doesn’t disguise his psychotic rage for people who dare to have “recreational sex.”

              Thank god employees are required to cover psychiatric medication, or he’d be shooting up a sorority house right now.

      • Aimai says:

        Is trying to have recreational sex a problem for you Glenn? Because the rest of us, married people and unmarried, don’t see it as a problem. Also–repeating a falsehood doesn’t make it less false. Women’s contraceptive care, including IUDs, can not be replaced by any generic pill and the doctor’s visits that are necessary to prescribe these things are also not replaceable by quick visit to a pharmacist. Why do you have so much contempt and hatred for married women and their families? Thats who uses IUDs, btw–my now 84 year old mother had one. It is a very safe and convenient way for adults in a monogamous union to manage their family size and it isn’t something that people buy over the counter.

        • Glen Allen says:

          It’s not a problem at all. My wife has an IUD. I just don’t believe in the government holding a gun to a business owners head and forcing them to pay for it if they have moral qualms. If we both worked for employers like that we would have (gasp!) paid for it ourselves. Foreign concept to people these days, I know, but it works.

          • Employer-Provided Welfare State says:

            STOP MAKING SENSE!!

            • Elizabeth says:

              So let me get this straight. Glen and his wife used their employer-provided health plan to pay for an IUD. But they aren’t moochers in the “Employer-Provided Welfare State” because Glen claims that if their employers didn’t want the health plans to cover the IUD, they wouldn’t complain; they’d just “pay for it themselves,” with the employer-provided paychecks that they got.

              How does this make sense, again?

          • Aimai says:

            How does this make any sense at all? No one buys the IUD without also buying the health insurance coverage that makes the doctor’s visit possible. There is no retail market for health care that operates that way. People buy a package of services and they pay premiums that entitle them to those services when they need them. The ACA has simply put a regulatory floor underneath those services so that unscrupulous employers and insurance companies can’t sell you a defective or incomplete product.

            No one forced the Employers to take tax breaks and offer their workers substandard health care insurance. They chose to do it and thus are benefitting from the taxpayers largesse. Thanks to the ACA they could bow out of the health insurance business and know that their employees could go on the exchanges and purchase exactly the product the employee’s want–consonant with the employee’s religious or personal preferences. Instead they are insisting on taking a taxpayer handout which they use in lieu of salary for their workers while offering the workers a defective and incomplete product.

            I know you know that. You must be a really terrible person–I mean, seriously an awful person in real life to keep making these arguments. If you are married I sincerely pity your wife. She must have to keep explaining to people that you are not the selfish, troll like, bitter, lying, asshole that you seem to be.

          • Elizabeth says:

            You would have paid for it yourselves, huh? With what? The money you earned by working for that employer? Do you understand that you also earned the health benefits by trading your labor for them, just like you earned your paycheck? What if your employer decided it had a religious objection to US currency and decided to pay you in scrip that is only redeemable for stale gumballs? Would that be OK?

          • Sly says:

            If we both worked for employers like that we would have (gasp!) paid for it ourselves.

            Presumably with the wages paid to you by your employer. Which begs the question: why do you hate religious freedom?

      • Francis says:

        Do I get to decide what meds you take? Sorry you had an adverse reaction to that one, but hey, you’re poor?

        Do you urinate on homeless people too?

        • Glen Allen says:

          I’m not sure I’d consider birth control “medicine” in the proper sense of the term unless you want to take the laughable position that being pregnant is a diseased state.

          • Aimai says:

            You know that is completely false since you’ve just argued that your wife has an IUD. So you know that pregnancy has physical complications for women and you are married to a woman so you should also know that many other things are treated with BCP such as cysts, endometriosis, and a few other things. Not having access to BCP can lead to horribly painful conditions in some women that are debilitating and can even result in loss of fertility and thus loss of the chance of later becoming pregnant.

            • Glen Allen says:

              I realize birth control products can be used as medicine. I’m not sure Hobby Lobby (had a problem when they were used for that purpose (I know Catholics don’t ) I was speaking when they are used as BC.

              • Autonomous Coward says:

                For what is it Hobby Lobby’s business which medications their workers are on or why?

                By what right you abrogate the HIPAA privacy protections of their employees in service of poor beleaguered Hobby Lobby’s precious fee-fees?

              • Aimai says:

                So your entire argument is based on knowingly false premises because Hobby Lobby didn’t object to the BC because it was “being used as BC” they objected to it at all, in toto, because of their faked up concern about abortifacients. They refused to pay for birth control, IUDs, the morning after pill and counseling about birth control by doctors under the health care plan. So they are literally removing the right of the women in their employee to access medical information about their bodies on the grounds that such information could lead them to know about and use BC that Hobby Lobby has deemed wrongful.

                • Chocolate Covered Cotton says:

                  Recently deemed wrongful, that is. They’d no problem paying for it when they were mandated by state insurance commissions before ACA and had no problem investing in the companies that make them and thereby profiting from the sale of BC.

                  Then there’s the issue of their belief that these particular drugs cause abortions is wrong. As in, it has no basis is fact, but it doesn’t matter because they believe it does. That’s a neat trick right there.

          • QuickSauce says:

            It’s medicine when it’s being used to treat ovarian cysts or endometriosis, jackass.

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        If you can’t afford that you’ve got bigger problems than trying to have recreational sex

        You have succeeded in typing words, but you have not succeeded in making them convey rational meanings.

    • DAS says:

      Especially because Hobby Lobby also already covers 16 of the 20 forms of contraception included in the mandate, objecting only to those it considers to be abortifacients.

      The dateline on this article is the same day that SCOTUS clarified its ruling (in response to other, similar cases) in its meticulously narrow “reasoning” of “this ruling is only about not requiring closely owned companies to offer health insurance plans covering birth control”, the term “birth control” applies to all birth control and not just those 4 methods Hobby Lobby has decided not to cover. So this “you still get 16/20 forms of birth control covered” argument has turned out to be pretty much false and quite stupid, hasn’t it?

  27. Abigail says:

    racism is much less deeply woven into the fabric of Judeo-Christian scripture, doctrine, and theology than are traditionalist teachings on sex and gender

    Oh lordy.

    So first, minus a million points for using “Judeo-Christian.” As I’ve mentioned here in the past, there are very few contexts in which this construction is justified, and abortion/birth control is certainly not one of them. Did you guys know that according to Jewish law, the death of a baby under 30 days old is treated as a miscarriage? They don’t get their own grave or a full funeral or a shiva.

    Also, living in Israel, which has some of the world’s strongest pro-natalist laws and social policies, you really get a sense of the difference between the American construction of pro-life – which is basically about punishing women for having sex – and the real thing. Israeli-Jewish society is baby-crazy, but what that means is that the focus is on the baby, not the pregnancy. Which means spending a ton of taxpayer money on pre-natal care and fertility treatments, but also on the kind of tests that could lead to abortions, because you want your baby to be perfect. Israel leads the world in pre-natal genetic tests, which is partly because Ashkenazi Jews are horribly inbred, but also because no one here has a real problem with abortion or planning your family. So long as you have kids eventually, we mostly don’t care what steps you took to get there.

    Second, I give a big hearty belly laugh at the notion that racism isn’t as baked into American Christianity as misogyny. As luck would have it, Fred Clarke has spent the last few weeks talking about the origins of American Evangelicalism and how its founders had to, essentially, create a theology from whole cloth that would not just accommodate but justify slavery and white supremacy – the effects of which, he argues, can be seen to this day. No one who takes a look at the American construction of Christianity as opposed to the rest of the world could possibly doubt this argument. (The series starts here and is well worth a read.)

    • Aimai says:

      Seconding the love for Fred Clark and his recent series on the racist roots of white american evangelicalism.

    • Shakezula says:

      Setting aside the question he raises by only talking about “Judeo-Christian” religion (which is how right wingers attempt to fig leaf their anti-Semitism boners) I believe Linker is attempting to say that control of women/sexuality is more legitimate and easier to justify because it is so old.

      racism is much less deeply woven into the fabric of Judeo-Christian scripture, doctrine, and theology than are traditionalist teachings on sex and gender.

      So if you cite American history, I’m guessing he’d loftily inform you that he’s talking about ancient history. However, anyone who has read the Bible and is familiar with history – for example the European Conquest of Other Nations bits – must ROFLTAO at the idea that racism isn’t a huge part of “Judeo-Christian” religion.

      But I can’t discount the possibility that this pillock simply isn’t aware that racism takes any form other than whites discriminating against blacks.

    • sapient says:

      Israeli-Jewish society is baby-crazy, but what that means is that the focus is on the baby, not the pregnancy. Which means spending a ton of taxpayer money on pre-natal care and fertility treatments, but also on the kind of tests that could lead to abortions, because you want your baby to be perfect.

      Although I’m on your side regarding the Hobby Lobby case, and the right to contraception (and abortion), that statement is kind of creepily eugenics. Sorry, couldn’t help but notice.

      • BigHank53 says:

        Ever hear of Tay-Sachs?

        • sapient says:

          That wasn’t the point. The point was “perfect”.

          • Abigail says:

            I was using “perfect” to mean “perfectly healthy” (as far as I know, there aren’t genetic tests of any other kind). Israelis don’t generally have a problem with the notion of terminating a pregnancy because of a genetic disease or birth defect. There are obviously gradations and issues of individual choice when it comes to this matter – Tay-Sachs may be a no-brainer but Down’s Syndrome isn’t necessarily – but I was talking about the overall attitude.

            I don’t know. I don’t have kids and am not likely to have them in the near future. So I don’t feel entitled to pass judgment on someone in that position.

  28. Mike G says:

    Shorter Damon Linker -
    The most important function of health insurance is not to provide health coverage for employees, but to allow corporate owners to paternalistically manipulate their employees coverage on personal whims.

  29. Glen Allen says:

    I think it really is about symbolism.

    Upper middle class white liberals (baby mama down in the ‘hood isn’t the one using birth control, trust me) demand not just tolerance for their sexual lifestyles (which I’m mostly willing to grant), but also approval and subsidization of said lifestyle.

  30. nynick says:

    “Beyond the meticulous narrowness of Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion, there’s the fact that racism is much less deeply woven into the fabric of Judeo-Christian scripture, doctrine, and theology than are traditionalist teachings on sex and gender.”

    Tell me again why progressives should cheer a decision allows our courts to judge our (or our companies’) piety? What about a business owned by a Muslim? Would our SCOTUS exempt the things “deeply woven into the fabric” of their religion? If not, we might as well burn the Constitution.

  31. The Amazing Spider-Man says:

    Alito’s opinion is pretty low hanging fruit, but I sure do enjoy reading Scott demolish it.

  32. Joe says:

    I have various critics take the stance that Ginsburg should have interpreted the majority opinion narrowly and that her tone in effect aided and abetted them. As if they need help. Justice Kennedy’s concurrence provided the limiting construction & given he is the key swing vote here, his compliment to the “powerful” and “respectful” dissent belies the idea that she hurt the cause in the long run.

  33. Simon says:

    In all seriousness Scott, this piece is demonstrative of the fact that you are one of the smartest bloggers out there, and totally unparalleled in acuity of judgment and clarity of argument on legal issues. Please keep up the good work.

  34. DAS says:

    there’s the fact that racism is much less deeply woven into the fabric of Judeo-Christian scripture, doctrine, and theology than are traditionalist teachings on sex and gender.

    IOW, liberals don’t have to worry about Alito’s decision being used to justify racist corporate practices because it will only be used to justify sexist corporate practices.

  35. Area Man says:

    …there’s the fact that racism is much less deeply woven into the fabric of Judeo-Christian scripture, doctrine, and theology than are traditionalist teachings on sex and gender.

    Ugg. Can we please do away with that obnoxious term, “Judeo-Christian”? There is no such religion, and the typical American Jew has a value system that is totally incompatible with that of fundamentalist Protestants and right-wing Catholics, the people who throw around the term to make it sound as if their beliefs are more widely shared than they are.

    People who use it, unless they have a very specific historical reason, are just carrying water for the Religious Right.

    • sapient says:

      No such thing as “typical American Jew”. Most Jews are Democrats, but Eric Cantor is a horse of a different color, and get along quite well with the Judeo-Christian crowd.

      • Area Man says:

        Okay, replace “typical” with “median” or “vast majority” or something like that. The point being that “Judeo-Christian” is a bullshit term that makes it seem as if the prerogative of conservative Christians includes someone other than themselves. It doesn’t.

        The implied bigotry toward people of other religions or the non-religious is of course the whole point. It’s just extra absurd that they try to include a group they’ve always held in contempt and intend to discriminate against.

  36. Aaron Baker says:

    Ah Damon Linker; I knew him already from his idiotic views on atheism (see http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/03/11/might-christianity-be-both-true-and-terrible/). He argues badly across a breathtakingly wide array of topics.

  37. […] discussion about the Hobby Lobby ruling has me wondering if the court has all but come out and said that the beliefs of believers carry […]

  38. skeptonomist says:

    When it comes to questions involving religion, there is not much point in trying to use logic. Since religion is fundamentally contrary to logic, arguments based on it must ultimately come up against blind belief, which people will fight for to the death (or at least they will fight for their tribe, whether it is a nation or a religion). When you concede special rights for religion, you are conceding the right to be illogical and to deny considerations of the common good – religion trumps the common good with the supposed desires of the gods.

  39. […] to Damon Linker’s “Why liberals should cheer the Hobby Lobby decision,” Scott Lemieux writes, “This mode of argument — ‘this case presents a clash between potentially legitimate […]

  40. Neil Tessler says:

    “If there are two people working in pharmacy and one opposes Plan B on religious grounds, having the employee who doesn’t object fill the prescription makes sense.”

    No, it doesn’t make any sense at all. That pharmacist or pharmacy worker should find a different profession. To interject themselves into the process with value judgements guiding what they are willing to prescribe is inane and flat out wrong on any grounds.

  41. […] inadvertently confessing his incapacity to think beyond the confines of liberal dogma, described the religious objection as “trivial” and “so abstract and attenuated it’s […]

  42. […] commentator, inadvertently confessing his incapacity to think beyond the confines of liberal dogma, described the religious objection as “trivial” and “so abstract and attenuated it’s […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.