Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hobby Lobby Commentary: "Wonderful Thing about Being Religious Is You Can Believe All Sorts of Irrational Things," Says Affordable Care Act Supporter Sara Rosenbaum

People are still talking about the five Supreme Catholic men's Hobby Lobby decision, and so I'm still reading. Here's a series of brief excerpts from articles I've found especially interesting in the past week (in no particular order other than rough chronological order from more recent to less recent):

Sara Rosenbaum of George Washington University, who filed an amicus brief on behalf of Hobby Lobby the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act, by way of Sahil Kapur at TPM:

The wonderful thing about being religious is you can believe all sorts of irrational things.

CJ Werleman, Alternet:

The Bible doesn’t mention anything about contraception or abortion, but this hasn’t stopped 89 million American evangelicals acting as if “thou shall not consume a pregnancy pill” were one of the Ten Commandments. 

The Hobby Lobby decision may have been the breaking point, but momentum has been building in recent years behind claims from businesses and individuals who do not want to follow any law — or any future law — that could get in the way of their anti-LGBTQ bigotry or efforts to control women’s lives and bodies.

Patricia Miller, Religion Dispatches:

The fact that the bishops refused to even sign on to the so-called compromise shows that for them the whole point of the exercise was to make a political statement about the moral unacceptability of non-procreative sex (especially for unmarried women), to save face about the fact that most Catholics use contraception, and to gin up "religious liberty" concerns that would backstop their campaign against same-sex marriage.

Dan Savage, SLOG:

So why are conservatives fighting so hard to make contraception harder for women to obtain? Because they don't think people—young people, poor people, unmarried people, gay people—should be able to enjoy "consequence-free sex." 

But right-wing media knows exactly how to push its audience's buttons: By claiming women are getting something for "free," conservatives are reinforcing this myth that women can't actually be independent—they either need to rely on the government or a husband. 

Frank Rich, New York Magazine:

The blatant spectacle of an all-male judicial majority deciding this case was of a piece with those infamous all-male House hearings on contraception.

Sarah Posner, Religion Dispatches:

The statement warns that such a religious exemption in a federal anti-discrimination law could embolden states to enact religious exemptions permitting discrimination based on sexual orientation. 

The cost to achieve this meager victory is immeasurably high for the Republicans, however. Obama won the 2012 election in no small part because the growing anti-contraception rhetoric made it clear that the anti-choice movement was not about fetal life so much as hostility to sex, and to women. 

The United States is still a democratic republic, formally, but what that actually means in practice is increasingly in doubt — and the Hobby Lobby ruling, deeply disingenuous and sharply at odds with centuries of Anglo-American law, exemplifies how that formal reality is increasingly mocked in practice. It is a practice best described as neo-feudalism, taking power away from ordinary citizens, in all their pluralistic, idiosyncratic diversity, and handing it over to corporations and religious dictators in both the public and the private realm.

Ruth Marcus, Washington Post:

How did the Supreme Court manage to agree unanimously that police must obtain a warrant before searching cellphones yet split on whether employers must offer contraception as part of their health-care plans? 
My explanation, slightly crude but perhaps compelling: All the justices, presumably, have cellphones. Only three have uteruses, and you know which way they voted.

Steve Benen, Maddow Blog:

[T]here can be little doubt that the Republican-appointed justices started with the answer they found ideologically satisfying, then worked backwards to find the rationale that made them happy. And then a few days later, when a related case posed a problem, these same justices simply flipped the whole thing upside down in order to once again advance a pre-determined agenda.

Judge Richard George Kopf by way of Ian Millhiser, Think Progress:

To most people, the decision looks stupid ’cause corporations are not persons, all the legal mumbo jumbo notwithstanding. The decision looks misogynist because the majority were all men. It looks partisan because all were appointed by a Republican. The decision looks religiously motivated because each member of the majority belongs to the Catholic church, and that religious organization is opposed to contraception.

Katherine Fung, Huffington Post:

Todd suggested the backlash is already apparent among white women ages 40 to 55, who will be crucial swing voters in this year's midterm elections. "These are the women that in 2010, they were leaning Republican at this time," he said. "This time, they haven't been."

Colleen Baker, Enlightened Catholicism:

With one 'narrowly defined' decision, the Catholic males on the Supreme Court have opened the door to Catholic sexual morality in the public as well as private sector. Humanae Vitae can now spread throughout America, though not by conversion or the lucidity of its reasoning,  but by the time tested method of coercion.

Frank Cocozzelli, Talk to Action:

What SCOTUS has essentially said is that an employer has to power to tell an employee what to do with her compensation. Because birth-control could now conceivably not be covered by insurance plans, it drives up the cost to the user. 

Kermit Roosevelt by way of Elias Isquith, Salon:

And I do think that’s one of the troubling things about the Hobby Lobby decision, because they say "Well, look, here are people who are claiming that this burdens their religious exercise and we think they’re sincere and we're not going to ask how substantial the burden is and we're not going to ask whether science suggests that they're just wrong about some of the facts here, but in the future maybe we will."

S.M. for "Democracy in America," The Economist:

How can an alternative accommodation explicitly endorsed by the Supreme Court on Monday suddenly lose its presumptive legality on Thursday? And how can a ruling self-styled as narrow and modest, applying only to closely-held corporations, expand to embrace pleas from religious non-profits to be exempt from exemptions?

Patricia Miller, Religion Dispatches:

[T]he ginning up of EC as an abortifacient was an elaborate ruse by the Catholic Church to create a wedge to allow it to counter the move to require insurers to cover contraceptives.

While a narrow reading of the ruling might seem comforting, these very qualifications send a troubling message that women’s reproductive health can be set apart as an acceptable target for religious objections. 

Peter Montgomery, Right Wing Watch:

Alito’s class at Princeton was the last all-male class at the university, and when Alito was angling for a promotion within the Reagan-Meese Justice Department in 1985, he bragged that he was a “proud member” of Conservative Alumni of Princeton, a group that aggressively fought the university’s efforts to diversify its student body by accepting more women and people of color.

Amanda Marcotte, Alternet:

While anti-choice activists have long benefitted from claiming that they are motivated more by not wanting fetuses to die than any interest in controlling sexuality, the fact that the movement was out in force to support Hobby Lobby’s war on contraception coverage--even though contraception prevents abortion--shows that they are really more about punishing sex than saving fetuses.

And so it goes, on and on . . . .

The photo at the head of the posting is from the "religious freedom" hearing in D.C. in February 2012; at the end of 2012, Think Progress chose the photo as one of the 12 most memorable pictures of the year.

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