Thoughts After Reading the Hobby Lobby Case


Like most people who pay attention to social media and , I've been devouring information on the Hobby Lobby contraception controversy.  I became borderline obsessed with both learning all the possible details of the case and always watching comments pile up to see how the American public reacted.  I followed the story to the point where I decided last night that I should cut myself off from the case.

The conversation has become too frustrating to follow.

I am of the opinion that one should always strive to find out the basic facts before reading media sources.  The sources you choose slant what direction you'll go on a case--we all know that.  But with something like Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, your sources also narrow the scope of the argument.

The right is currently arguing that Hobby Lobby pays higher wages, therefore allowing for women to buy the 4 omitted forms of contraception that will no longer be covered.  The left is arguing that this is a step back in women's health and that it is unfair for corporations to maintain the health double standard.

However both sides are manipulating this case to further their own agenda (as, honestly, we are all prone to do).  This case is not about birth control.  It's not about wages.  It's not about Hobby Lobby or the other two corporations lumped in.  This case is about, as Ginsberg calls it in her dissent, the "minefield" that the Supreme Court has just put our country in the middle of.

See, while the Supreme Court does decide the fate of individual cases, it has almost a greater influence on the way the country is run as a whole.  That is, the implications of a single decision reach to every relatable aspect in laws, cases, et cetera.  Lower courts much change their decisions based on the Supreme Court ruling, and the interpretation of a law in a cases's opinion becomes the precedent for future cases.

So clearly a court case is not only about the details.  That's why the current discourse frustrates me so much.  Because, in the greater scheme of things, this case is not even necessarily a women's health case.  The details of the alleged abortifacients is not the main detail.  The wages paid to Hobby Lobby workers does not matter.

If you ask me, the major implication of this case is that a for-profit corporation is considered a person.  A person who's religious views must be respected, even though many of the Justices comment in the case that it is not for the court to decide what is a reasonable versus unreasonable religious belief.  Additionally, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which is what the decision of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby is based off of--not the First Amendment right to freedom of religion--says that the government can't substantially burden religious expression.  This is all fine and good, and--although I have not read the other cases-- this statute was proposed for a reason.

Religious freedom is one of the tenants of this country.  But religious freedom is exactly the problem.

By considering a closely held for-profit corporation a person who should be allowed to freely exercise their religion, the Supreme Court is allowing the corporation to impose its religious views on its employees.  Unlike churches and non-profit organizations that are exempt from this contraception mandate, employees of corporations do not work there because of the shared values/ to further the organizations mission statement.

If you ask me, when a corporation is founded to be for-profit and have more than 50 employees (which is the requirement for the contraception mandate to apply), the employer takes on a different role.  No matter how much of their money they donate to charities, unless they are a non-profit explicitly, the employer must operate like the US government.  There should be a separation of the business and the religion, for the sake of the employees health.

While taking away four methods of contraception may not seem like such a big deal, this decision has major implications.  There are many court cases that have either been tried or are awaiting trial that claim religion as a reason to not cover any form of contraception.  There are also organizations who have religious claims against the practice of blood transfusions and vaccines.  This case could also open the door to anti-semitism entering the business place or other forms of "isms" that we thought we had escaped from (in this way) decades ago.  The Supreme Court maintains that their role is not to distinguish between reasonable and unreasonable religious belief...so where will the line be drawn?

Whether you side with the right or left, the implications of this case put the US in a very dangerous minefield.  Because now, the excuse of "substantial burden on free religious expression" can be used to gain exemption from any law.

Well other than taxes.  Because if there are two things you can never escape...death and taxes.


**This article is based on my own reading of the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case**

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Meet The Author

I'm Madysen, born and raised in Nebraska but now living out my dreams in New York City. I moved here to go to Columbia, but living in New York has become so much more to me. This blog is a space where I can share my experiences of reconciling my midwestern upbringing with the life I live in the city. But even bigger than that, this blog serves as a space where I can try to understand where I fit into the larger social world, where I want to go in life, and how I want to go about pursuing all of these endeavors.

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