The Widdershins

Posts Tagged ‘supreme court

Overheard at the Widdershin water cooler this week – we are fed up with: (A) Anthropological stories about down-on-their-luck rural Trump voters; (B) Blind hypocrisy by Republicans; and (C) Craven, cowardly, chicken-hearted Democrats.

No can of Pepsi delivered by a Kardashian will cure these ills, but if you can tolerate the next 600 words, what’s say we start a conversation about it?

Everyone and their dog have written about the poor rural Trump voter. You’d think they are forgotten indigenous tribes being described by Sir Stanley as he plundered the jungles of Appalachia looking for Livingstone. The money-shot quotes are as cheap and unrevealing as assisted living porn.

Capturing a chronically ill Trump voter is crazy good copy, but it does nothing to explain the highest truth of political science: Humans are complex creatures.

Stories about individual voting patterns are useless. They are not actionable. People may vote on God, guns, or gays. They may vote based upon what they divine from chicken entrails. Who knows? You can’t divorce someone from their experiential data. You can try to expand it by education, but you can’t bleach an imprinted brain.

For instance, we can accurately say 2 out of 3 of these woebegone Trump voters believe “discrimination has become just as large a problem for white people as it has for blacks and other minorities.” We can also accurately say such a belief is highly correlated to bigotry and racism, but that doesn’t mean everyone who voted for Trump is a racist.

Keeping two competing truisms in one brain at the same time is impossible for many people. It can result in exploding heads, but realizing such complexity is just the beginning of trying to understand voting patterns.

I live amongst Trump voters. My county went 80% for Trump. They aren’t all unemployed ignorant hillbilly coal miners. While some are, if you asked the vast majority, they believe the “liberal media” portrays them that way. There is no chance of starting a conversation around those two data points.

Likewise, I catch myself in perpetual agony over Republican hypocrisy until I remind myself, “Those who ride high horses are always above hypocrisy.”

For instance, there is no Republican guilt over 78 filibusters in the first five years of the Obama administration compared to only 68 in the entire previous history of the country.

The most recent act of hypocrisy doesn’t even seem to register. During the Obama years, almost 100 Republican members of Congress threatened impeachment if he dared attack Syria. Then Dolt 45 chucks $80 Million in cruise missiles closing an abandoned airfield for about twelve hours and it is time for ticker tape and Mt. Rushmore sculpting. Obama was excoriated for following the Constitution and Dolt 45 basks in his glistening orangey-ness.

Which leads us to the feckless Democrats who always seem to find a chicken-hearted way to react? The Gorsuch debacle is a prime example.

Utah acne cream model and Senator Mike Lee implied that Justices Kagan and Sotomayor are wild-eyed liberals. Of course, nothing could be farther from the truth, but this, like so many other issues, demonstrates how unanswered hyperbole sets the narrative.

Republican appointees to the Supreme Court have been so far to the right you can’t even see the center from where they are perched. Proof of this: Justice Kennedy is the swing vote and he’s one of the most conservative justices in the history of the court.

Mitch McConnell has broken the Senate in an ultimate power play after denying Merrick Garland so much as a hearing or a vote. Such an act will rank up there in all time political slime, but he did it because he could.

Democrats have made it easy for Republicans to beat them like rented mules. There is no punishment for a Manchin or Heitkamp other than the broken legs they get from jumping to the Republican side on issues. There is no punishment for a non-Democrat to waltz into a Democratic primary and harm the eventual nominee.

Because of this behavior voters see one party as definitive and the other as milquetoast. Republicans take incredibly asinine positions, but they stake out ground for their voters and never look back. Democrats bathe everything in lukewarm timidity. As my old boss once told me, “In politics if you try to get away with being half-assed, you aren’t even good at being an ass.” I wish more Democrats understood that.

This brings us full circle – when it comes to voters, you can’t replace catnip with broccoli and expect the same result. Democrats are coming to understand that, but the understanding is being driven by the grassroots. We need to keep it up. Call congressional offices. Write letters. It makes a difference.

What’s on your mind today?

 

 

 

Good morning Widdershins.  Hope your Friday is off to a great start on the way to a fantastic weekend.Sisters in front of the Supreme Court

Wednesday occasioned the oral argument before the Supreme Court of Zubik v. Burwell – a rather antiseptic styling for an umbrella case hiding at least eight appeals in the ongoing “scary lady parts war”.  With Brussels and the Trumpster fire being what they are, very little attention was given to what’s commonly known as the Little Sisters of the Poor case.  I’m going to fix that in our little corner of the interwebz.

It is a somewhat complicated case.  First, here is what you need for an understanding of the issues.

  1. This is a case about contraception and abortifacients if you are talking to opponents of Obamacare. These people are the “Petitioners.”  The other side, “Respondents,” say it is a case about an Obamacare mandate providing “the most frequently taken drug for women ages 15-60 costing $30 or more a month for pills, and as much as $1,000 for buying and having an IUD inserted”.
  2. This is a religious liberty and Religious Freedom Restoration Act case. RFRA says the government must have a compelling reason for laws that substantially burden religious beliefs, and even then government must prove that the law is the least burdensome way of achieving its goal.
  3. Churches and their directly affiliated organizations are not affected by this case. They are specifically exempted and there is a separate work-around for them.  This case affects nonprofits like religious schools, universities, and hospitals among others.
  4. Those nonprofits (the Petitioners) were given a workaround to accommodate their objections, but they say this accommodation still burdens their free exercise of religion.
  5. This case could be tied 4-4 since Scalia has gone on permanent sabbatical. If it is tied, the rulings in the various Courts of Appeals stand.  In all those cases, save for one, the Petitioners lost – meaning the government work-around for approximately 1.6 million women continues.  The Court could hold the case until the Senate decides to do its constitutional duty by convening confirmation hearings for a new Justice.

Birth-Control-Abstinence

With that baseline, here’s how it works and what is being challenged.  If you are an affiliated religious organization, like a hospital or school, the organization must fill-out a two page form or write a letter saying it doesn’t want contraceptive coverage for its female employees.  Then the insurance company, from funds segregated from the funds of the underlying organization, will provide contraceptive coverage to the insured females.  The insurance company must even communicate separately, in a different envelope, to the women and may not include correspondence along with normal correspondence.

This is a bridge too far for the opponents.  The Petitioners say giving the notice, filling out the form or writing a letter, is putting these female employees on the road to contraceptive perdition.  They also say the insurance companies would have to use the organization’s “infrastructure” meaning mailing list and thereby, it would make them complicit in providing the dreaded contraceptives.

For the Respondents, that is highly toxic bull excrement.  The Respondents include many religious organizations who think the Petitioners have taken their activism beyond the point of absurdity.  They also believe the Petitioners are sowing the seeds of political destruction for religious liberty.  How so?I'll have nun of it

First, the Petitioners want the Court to adopt a finding that if a religious organization says something is a substantial burden on their exercise of religion, the courts must take their word for it.  No questions.  No evidence. End of discussion.  Period.  You can just imagine the number of extreme claims this would create.

Taken to its logical conclusion, this would completely end the contraceptive mandate because it would take about two nanoseconds for some enterprising activist to say, “Because of my religion, I can’t obey any law passed by any government allowing abortion.”

The Petitioners are asking for automatic and absolute deference as to what constitutes a substantial burden on their religious beliefs.  Forget the courts.  Forget the Congress.  Forget state legislatures.  Forget town councils.  Religious claimants would be imbued with superpowers and not be subject to challenge.  No one would be the boss of them.

The other argument advanced by the Petitioners is even more universal in its reach.  They argue that since churches are exempt, all affiliated groups should be exempt – meaning all work-arounds would be halted.  The ability to fulfill the contraceptive mandate of Obamacare would end.

Women for Religious FreedomThe Petitioners counter with, “Just have the government supply contraceptives to all women.”  To which the Respondents reply, “There is no legislation.  There is no funding.  There is no mechanism.  It would be an unfunded mandate that would deny millions of women access to reproductive therapies.”  And here’s a hint, the votes to abolish Obamacare now number almost 60 in the House of Representatives.

True to form, never underestimate the extent to which conservatives will overestimate their impact.  There are thousands of specific religious exemptions in U.S. law.  If legislators can’t enact religious exemptions without the exemptions becoming plenary “free spaces” as is suggested here by the Petitioners, religious exemptions will be curtailed.  That is not a Prolix prognostication; it is what many mainstream religious groups fear.

So there you have it.  Those are the arguments.  Those are the positions.  If anyone asks, about now would be a good time to have a ninth Justice on the Supreme Court.

 

Fredster has a weekend post slated for tomorrow, so until then take the discussion in any direction you might like.

 

Being the well-read Widdershinners you are, you already knew Ham was the first Hominidae launched into space.  Ham was affectionately known as the first “astrochimp”.  Given the proclivities of the Republican field for flinging waste, I thought it would be entertaining to catalog this troop of politichimps.

The following is a list of questions about certain issues for Thursday night debate.  The answers should be cataloged as the time elapsed from the beginning of the debate until the event.  For instance, question one asking, “When will Trump use his first superlative?”  Given the elapsed time from the beginning of the debate until it happens, that would be answered 0:02 — meaning two seconds after the debate begins.

We will tally up the times and the person with the total time closest to the events will be declared Jane Goodall of the politichimps.  In the event of a tie, there is a tiebreaker.

The debate is Thursday evening at 9:00 P.M. EDT on your Faux News channel.  There will be a “kids’ table” debate earlier at 5:00 P.M., but this contest is reserved for the big politichimp event at 9:00.

Enjoy.

  1. At what point will Donald J. Trump use his first superlative — e.g., best, most brilliant, highest envy, lowest loser?
  2. At what point will someone say Obama or Barrack Obama?
  3. At what point will someone say Hillary or Hillary Clinton?
  4. At what point will someone say Obamacare?
  5. At what point will someone say Benghazi?
  6. At what point will someone say “secure the border”?
  7. At what point will someone say the Iran deal sucks?
  8. At what point will someone take on the Supreme Court over marriage equality?
  9. At what point will one candidate say the name of another candidate?
  10. At what point will someone say the country is at a crossroads/cliff/precipice/in danger/existentially threatened/in its darkest days – you get the idea?

Tie breaker:  Which candidate or candidates will fail their urine tests and why?

Please feel free to share your thoughts and your total time.

 

 

Morning Widdershinners!  Wow, where to start?  So much swirling in the news it’s like trying to coronate the King of Flatulence after a soup bean feast.  There’s been good news for libruls – upholding the ACA, upholding the redrawing of congressional districts by citizen panels, upholding the prohibitions against housing discrimination, and of course, bringing equality to marriage.  Not just gay...

There was even cause for celebration amongst conservatives by the end of the week.  First, there was the news that states can continue experimenting with ways to kill people while they look for a suitable drug to keep the occupancy rate of death chambers reasonably high.  Then, as if that wasn’t enough, there was word that industry smokestacks can continue to belch out lethal mercury, sulfur dioxide, and other poisons into the air we breathe.  No expert am I, but it seems there’s a great opportunity for some synergy in these two bits of news.

So instead of dwelling on the news, let’s “reflesh” some history this morning.  I say “reflesh” since time has a way of stripping away the meat of events and leaving us with nothing more than sketchy skeletons of things past.  And when I say the past, I mean forever, like the past thirty-five years.  The wisdom of Mark Twain, “Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please,” seems to have been turned on its head over the last thirty-five years.  Facts have become afterthoughts replaced with gossamer fairy tales spun from the selective recall of pie-eyed partisans who ride unicorns and trade credit default derivatives.

reaganrushmoreBefore every public building, every airport, every road, and all currency bear the name or likeness of Ronald Reagan, we should remind ourselves of some wickedly pesky facts.  Little reminders of the era like the Iran-Contra scandal, the squandering of $130 Billion to bail out politically connected savings and loans in what was, relatively speaking, a bigger bailout than George W. Bush’s TARP, the weakening of the EPA, across the board deregulation, mind-bending increases in defense spending, “welfare queens and young bucks”, ketchup as a vegetable, and most importantly, deficits fueled by tax cuts under the guise of the trickle down economics fantasy – the ultimate political slogan masquerading as an economic theory.

It is this era where the groundwork was laid for the gutting of the middle class with flat or receding wages while the one-percenters embarked on a thirty-five year bonanza – the likes of which haven’t been seen since the Gilded Age.

To bring this written séance of things past full circle to the events of the last week, there’s an ambulatory herpetic reminder of the Scalia hands upReagan era – none other than one, Antonin Scalia.  Just like a drug resistant strain of herpes, since 1986 Scalia has been a recurring reminder of the folly of the Reagan era.

Scalia was appointed to the seat of William Rehnquist when Rehnquist was elevated to Chief Justice.  Scalia, a disciple of Robert Bork who was barred from the Supreme Court by a bipartisan coalition of Democrats and Republicans, believes in originalism.  In the mid-1970s, like worthless toadstools after a spring rain, originalism sprang from the fertile minds of Bork, Scalia, and a handful of others – all enterprising conservatives hawking a solution in search of a problem.  Virtually unheard of before the mid-1970s, originalism is Scalia’s preferred method of circular reasoning.

go back to the constitutionThe best way to describe originalism is this:  Words forever have the meanings they had at the time of their effectuation.  Per Scalia’s thinking, the words of the Constitution mean today what a reasonable person believed they meant in 1788.  Conveniently, with no one still around from 1788 it is Scalia, as a robed lexicographer, who gets to determine what that reasonable meaning was and is.  Like so many things from the Reagan era, when the practical effect of the logic is weighed, you discover a corpulent thumb on the scales.

To lay bear the folly of Scalia’s beliefs, so prevalent and political in last week’s opinions, here’s a little exercise to disprove his theory that words are fixed, unchanging purveyors of the concepts they represent.  Read this paragraph:trust me

Stringz of letterz r efforts to express meaningful propositions in an intelligible whey. To succeed does not require the youse of any rite series of words and, in fact, a sntnce fll of gibberish cn B prfctly comprehensible and meaningful 2 an intelligent reader. To understand a phrse or paragraf or an entire txt rekwires the use of human understanding and contextual infrmation not just a dctionry.

Since Marbury v. Madison established judicial review in 1803, words have been nothing more than guideposts pointing the way toward understanding.  As intelligent readers, you grasped the meaning of the “paragraf” above and you know words have no traction outside contextual and experiential understanding.  The learning here is a simple one:  Words have consequences whether they are lessening discrimination, promoting equality or unfortunately, approving a smorgasbord of execution drugs.

scalia_court_2

Oompa LoompaThirty years is a long time to suffer the foolishness of such gibberish and jiggery-pokery from a Supreme Court Justice.  So the next time you see a Reagan monument, make sure you’re reminded of his gift that just keeps on giving – an Oompa Loompa in a black robe answering to the name Antonin.

Have a great day and your opinions on any subject are encouraged and will be appreciated.

 

Top of the Tuesday to you Widdershin friends. I hope your 4th was a good one. Since it seems my fingers have retaken residence over the computer home keys, I’m pleased to report my 4th was “digitally” unremarkable.

Last Friday’s post on the effects of the Hobby Lobby case by Caterwaulin’ Sam Alito and the Four Supremes was The Supreme Court as the Supremesfinished and posted about 5:00 p.m. on Thursday. As you will recall, Alito went out of his way to assuage any trepidation about the effects of the ruling and even Justice Kennedy harmonized this refrain, “the majority opinion does not have the breadth and sweep ascribed to it by the respectful and powerful dissent.” We Widdershinville “why-askers” knew better.

Thursday evening, just as the Supremes left for summer vacay, was where the “rubbers” met the road on the whole religious liberty and contraceptive issue. A mere three days after issuing the decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, with all its cooing and sweet nothings about it just being the outer most tip of religious liberty, the five conservative justices stuck it in with reckless abandon.

The down and dirty is this: In an unsigned emergency order granted Thursday evening, the court said the religious exemption “work around” it had just praised in the Hobby Lobby decision most likely would also be struck down. Accordingly, the ballyhooed “work around” would also be found an impermissible burden on the freedom of religious employers.

Whilst we slept, Monday’s permissible cure for “burdening” employers suddenly became the disease. In short, having explicitly promised that the Hobby Lobby decision would go no further than closely held corporations, the court went back on its word, then promptly skipped town for the summer.

Uterus CaucusThe sneak attack of Thursday night last was the first skirmish in the great Womb Wars of 2014-15. On the one side you have five Catholic testosterone units with their “berobed” dangling junk versus the Uterus Caucus, the three female Justices. Here’s how it played out.

The five conservative Justices, constituting a majority, issued an emergency temporary injunction to Wheaton College. Wheaton is a small Illinois Christian college that has never had to comply with the contraceptive mandate of the ACA since there has always been an exemption and a “work around” for religious organizations.

To get the exemption they just have to file a short form, known as Form 700, that says, “We have a religious objection to providing contraception.” No one checks. No one is questioned. No one really cares because the cost of the contraceptives is borne through a government “work around” with the insurance companies.

That is, no one cares except Wheaton and several similarly situated plaintiffs. These religious organizations have filed appeals and are awaiting their day before the Supremes next term. Their beef: Someone signing the two page Form 700 triggers some third-party to provide the contraception, which in turn triggers women to have access to IUDs or morning-after pills, which according to their admittedly unscientific 16th Century principles, is akin to abortions, and thus violates their collective religious conscience.

Wheaton College

Wheaton College

Wheaton College and the other plaintiffs won’t abide being branded with the scarlet ACA even though their “religious burden” is merely signing a form. Their argument is the butterfly effect of contraception: Any time Wheaton flaps its religious-conscience wings, some woman somewhere gets an IUD and Wheaton’s religious liberties are violated.

This emergency injunction is in addition to the cases the court kicked back to various lower courts immediately after last Monday’s decision. In one case, the employer had objections to not just IUDs and the morning-after pill, but twenty other different types of contraception guaranteed by the ACA.

Another of these cases started out as a religious objection by the business owner, but morphed into a, “What gives anyone the right to tell me what I have to do? That’s my issue, that’s what I object to, and that’s the beginning and end of the story,” case. That libertarian screed is the stuff the Brothers Koch take Viagra and dream about at night.

Now back to Wheaton, and this is why I felt it necessary to update last Friday’s post: It is truly an extraordinary act for the Supreme Court to issue an emergency temporary injunction. It’s not unheard of, but it is about as rare as a civil pleasantry being uttered by Antonin Scalia.

SotomayorWhat’s even more rare, even unheard of, is a seventeen page dissent to a four-paragraph order granting the injunction. The dissent, penned by Justice Sotomayor and joined by Justices Ginsberg and Kagan, was blistering. It centered on what we discussed last Friday, never before has the court allowed a party to determine, for itself, what constitutes a “substantial religious burden”. It is the equivalent of never questioning a three-year old who is allowed to only eat at McDonald’s and taking great pleasure when he smiles through his swollen scurvy-ridden gums.

In her dissent Sotomayor said, “Wheaton is mistaken — not as a matter of religious faith, in which it is undoubtedly sincere, but as a matter of law: Not every sincerely felt ‘burden’ is a ‘substantial’ one, and it is for courts, not litigants, to identify which are substantial.” She adopted an analogy from the Seventh Circuit:

Say a Quaker is called up for the draft and requests an exemption from service because of his religious beliefs. That’s fine, and RFRA may well dictate he can be exempted from service as a conscientious objector. But what if he then realizes some other person will be drafted to take his place? Can he object to his own exemption because that requires somebody else to take up arms?

If signing a short form is now a substantial religious burden as Wheaton College and others claim, there is little that Opinions Aheadisn’t a substantial burden under the Hobby Lobby decision. If that is the case, Sotomayor etched a nice little epitaph in her dissent, “Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word. Not so today.”

Translated into the vernacular: No matter how sincere the sweet-nothings sound before you are right and royally violated, those sweet assurances never turn into calls the next day, but just the same, you remain right and royally screwed.

This is your intrepid contraceptive correspondent signing off with, “Have a nice day and this is an open thread.”

 

Happy 4th of July Widdershins. I hope your day and weekend is filled with egg tossing, sack races, cookouts, and oohing and aahing over fireworks commemorating the uniqueness of the American experiment. Here in the “valley of the Widdershins,” today I can offer nothing more patriotic than laying bare the most recent blemish upon an American ideal — the Hobby Lobby decision.

Amish Art

It’s funny how the mind works. When new information is introduced, there is no way to tell where that information will take your mind. That was the situation Monday morning last when I sat awaiting the Supreme Court opinion in the Hobby Lobby case.

When the decision was announced my mind didn’t focus on what the decision held. My thoughts didn’t focus on the constitutional insult of bestowing religious protection upon for-profit corporations nor did they focus on the raw ugliness of favoring the powerful over the powerless. It didn‘t even occur to me to focus on how we got to the point of relitigating contraception — an issue thought to be settled since the 1960s.

No, what occurred to me when I heard that Justice Alito had authored the Hobby Lobby decision was the art he had selected to decorate his chambers while he was on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. His personal chambers were festooned with all matter of Amish folk art. The thing that struck me about that art was its flatness, its one-dimensionalism, and its utter lack of depth. When the findings of the Hobby Lobby opinion began to set in, my mind’s wandering to his decorating choices was strangely appropriate since art always seems to mirror the admirer.

Admittedly I am no art connoisseur and since there is only so much you can say about painted umbrella stands that began their lives as butter churns, I will leave the art review to others. What I would like to talk about today are those things upon which I didn’t immediately focus last Monday.

Alito and BushThe holding in the Hobby Lobby case was fairly forthcoming. It was couched as a statutory interpretation case focusing on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. RFRA was championed by Ted Kennedy and passed the Senate 97-0 as a remedy to the 1990 Supreme Court case of Employment Division of Oregon v. Smith, where two Native Americans were fired from their jobs due to testing positive after ingesting peyote as part of a traditional religious service.

The main thrust of RFRA was, “government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.” In applying RFRA to the Hobby Lobby set of facts, the Court held:

  1. RFRA was written to protect individuals’ religious freedoms and under RFRA, corporations count as people thereby their religious freedoms also get protection.
  2. The ACA requirement to cover contraception violated RFRA because the ACA mandated that businesses “engage in conduct that seriously violates their sincere religious belief that life begins at conception.”
  3. If the federal government wanted to increase access to birth control, the Court thinks government could do it in ways that didn’t violate religious freedom, like directly distributing contraceptives.

The Court also attempted to limit those who might benefit from this finding, saying that only “closely held” corporations can be protected under RFRA. Since about 90 percent of companies are closely-held and they employ about 52% of the workforce, this is a distinction without a real difference.

That is what the decision held, now let’s turn to the intellectual folly of bestowing religious freedom protection on for-profit corporations and the ethical revulsion associated with favoring the powerful few over the powerless many.

In writing the opinion, the first obstacle Justice Alito had to overcome were the words of former Justice John Paul Stevens, who had written, ”corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires.“ In fact, RFRA referred only to a “person’s” exercise of religion — there was no mention of corporations. Admitting this, Alito opined “artificial persons” are often excluded from the definition of personhood so he went outside the RFRA and reverted to the generalized “Dictionary Act” definition of “person” which included corporations (more on the significance of this later).

After this leaky logical hole was plugged, there were myriad others with which to contend. What about the religious beliefs forbidding blood transfusions, vaccines or psychiatric care? Without any legal test, justification or precedent, Alito summarily declared, “they don’t qualify for this exception.” Why? Because he says so.

Presently, there are over seventy cases with ACA issues rolling toward the Supreme Court. Of those seventy, fifty-one have to do with religion-based challenges to contraception issues. Alito’s cursory edict of “because I say so” is not likely to hold under the onslaught of fifty-plus factual situations.

Alito is the one on the right...

Alito is the one on the right…

Another leaky hole just slightly smaller than the state of Montana: What is “sincere religious belief”? Again, not a hint of a clue in this decision — no legal test, no legal precedent. The reason is pretty simple. How do you objectively measure a religious belief premised on a patently false understanding of medicine and science? That is what is at issue here, the belief held by the Green family is untrue according to medical science, but undoubtedly they are “serious” about their baseless belief.

I would submit this is one of the largest hidden pitfalls of the Hobby Lobby case from the standpoint of organized religion and their believers. This case was sold by groups of “prophets of profit” as an abortion case. Why? Because it is easy to tap into the emotions associated with the issue and most importantly, it is easy to turn on the fundraising taps.

Without a legal test or any guidance, the Hobby Lobby decision allows the barometer for one’s sincerity of religious belief to be at the whim and circumstance of those sitting on the Supreme Court. This is a dangerous precedent. For the first time in our history, a person’s religious belief is to be measured by the fiat of the subjective judgment of those then sitting on the Court. Simply put, by a majority vote, the Supreme Court can decide a person’s or denomination’s sincerity in the depth of their religious conviction and whether or not it deserves some special dispensation.

In this particular case, the lack of inquiry as to the depth of the Green’s conviction was extraordinarily convenient. Prior to being telephoned by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Hobby Lobby’s insurance offered the exact same contraception coverage they came to find so religiously objectionable. To paraphrase: The Green family’s religious conversion was not on the road to Damascus, but over Verizon wireless and conveyed via a sermon by the corporation’s general counsel.

Another point causing general agita is that this decision protects the rights of the powerful at the expense of the rights of the powerless. Hobby Lobby’s revenue is over $3.0 Billion a year and it is closely-held corporation (another point unaddressed and undefined in the opinion). The annual cost of these types of contraceptives equates to a month’s salary for their minimum wage workers. The inequity here is staggering — creating a previously unrecognized religious right for five members of the Green family at the expense of over thirteen-thousand Hobby Lobby employees and untold millions more.

This case will open the floodgates of every manner of religious exemption. Companies will ask for exemptions from employment law because they will want to discriminate. Companies will want to alter their health insurance to eliminate vaccinations or transfusions. Companies will want to again raise the payment of taxes for such things as wars, drones, and cruise missiles. The floodgates have been thrown open, the Court should expect to be inundated.

Those are just some of the highlights of the problems with creating a right of religious freedom in a for-profit corporation, but let’s turn to “how can this happen?” How can we be at the point of relitigating an issue that was settled over fifty years ago? This is the particularly insidious part. This is the anger-making part. This is the pitchfork and torch part. This is also the most difficult part to simplify, but I’ll try.

Read the rest of this entry »

Good Monday, Widdershins. Excuse the lack of bells and whistles today, I’ve had quite a few internet issues lately. 🙂

Ah, the Scalia Supreme Court. They can always be counted on to be the vanguard of the religious war against women (I’m sure Dick Armey’s Army is thrilled with them today). The latest thing I’m upset about, which is really quite impactful, is the overruling of the buffer zone that Massachusetts state law had required outside clinics that performed abortions. This was a necessary measure due to the violence to which anti-abortion protesters are prone. (No, these fanatics are not appreciative of irony.) I don’t really need to speak about the tragic assassination of George Tillman, or the various bombings of abortion clinics that wingnuts have executed in the last ten years, do I? These are now back on the table, thanks to the highest court in the land.

What tenet of the First Amendment puts conditions on the location from which you are permitted to verbally express your hatred and ignorance? You got it folks, that would be “none.” But please, don’t tell Scalia & Co. this.  After all, they think the women of Wal-Mart were not victims of sexual discrimination because they couldn’t find the discrimination policy written in the company’s HR documentation! This is strike two.

BREAKING…Actually, it’s three strikes now. I just went to get the link about the abortion ruling, and lo and behold – they’ve now ruled that “religious” for-profit, “closely-held” companies don’t have to cover birth control for their employees. Now that’s some “family-friendly” religion! Where’s the umpire to throw these bums outta here? (Unfortunately, the House would have to impeach the Supreme Court justices. That will never happen, because a) they agree and b) they’re too busy perfecting their golf games and fauxraging over Obama’s wussy use of the executive order they didn’t care about when W Bush used it.)

When is this bullsh*t going to be enough? When will American women (and the men who support us) march on the capital and protest this erosion of control of their own reproductive destinies? I don’t know, but I really hope it’s soon. In our “enlightened” country, we are looking at the following for women: a complete loss of access to reproductive control and family planning;  no hope of equal pay for equal work; and a continued severe under-representation in federal and state governments. In other words, we haven’t come a long way, baby…we’re going in the wrong direction. The only ones who can stop it, is we ourselves.

This is an open thread.


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Your Victories Against Drumpf!

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Blog Archive

April 2017
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Our 2016 Ticket!

Our girl is gonna shine

Busted: Glass ceiling

HRC bumper sticker

She’s thinking “Less than 2 weeks I have to keep seeing that face”

Yeah I can make it

The team we’re on

Women’s March on Washington!

Right-click the pic for more info

Kellyanne Conway’s new job