Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Off the cliff


    On the eve of the Fourth of July, as Americans were gearing up to celebrate our freedoms, a slim majority of the U.S. Supreme Court dealt a stunning blow to those freedoms in the name of religious protection for corporations. Worse, it created a weapon that could destroy more.
    In a decision known as Citizens United, the high court had ruled that a corporation is a person. This created a precipitous and dangerous legal cliff. With this week’s Hobby Lobby decision, the court’s majority cloaked itself in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and shoved the American people off the edge.
    With a slim 5-4 majority, the court held that two companies, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialities, could refuse to pay for employee health insurance that covers contraceptive methods to which the owners object on religious grounds.
    The majority failed the nation in both its interpretation and application of existing laws. It allowed a “sincerely held” religious belief to override the science-based mechanisms of contraception.
    It got lost in the weeds of its corporations-as-people decision and the conviction that government-imposed fines trample the religious freedoms of corporate “persons” that refuse to pay for government-required health insurance that includes all forms of contraception.
    The majority treated employee health insurance like a gift where the choice of gift is controlled by the giver when, in fact, the insurance is a form of wages that should be controlled by employees.
    Americans would revolt if employers had the right to control how they choose to use their money. It’s ludicrous that an employer could legally deny them the ability to choose what kind of car, coffee or cupcakes they spend their own money on—let alone their choice of contraception.
    The Fourth of July will not shine as bright until this wretched decision is overturned.




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