In trying to make sense of The Way Things Are in a post-Hobby Lobby world, it is important to peel away the layers and understand what the Hobby Lobby ruling is and, more importantly, what it isn’t.
The Supreme Court ruled that a closely-held corporation can avoid paying for health insurance that covers contraceptive options if the belief about how those methods work offends the religious feelings of the majority stockholders.
Yes, the ruling is a direct assault on common sense in its attempt to assign freedom of religious expression to a corporation.
Yes, the ruling is science-denialism writ large.
Yes, it is a poke in the eye to the separation of powers: where a law passed by Congress and signed by the president can be, not merely ruled unconstitutional, but hacked up and rewritten by a court.
And, it is likely a specific poke in the eye to President Barack Obama who the right wing has become completely unhinged over to the point that they want to nullify the results of two presidential elections and three congressional elections.
What it really is: complete and utter disrespect for women.
From an article by Joan Walsh in Salon:
[Reproductive freedom is] still perceived as threatening and undermining to family and society, particularly when it involves (as it always essentially does) issues of sexual freedom. The Hobby Lobby decision, and the conservative reaction to it, made this dynamic particularly and depressingly clear. Some pundits hailed its implications for religious liberty, but a whole lot of them welcomed it as a rebuke to slutty females having sex on their dime. […]
[When] it comes to questions of work, family, sexuality and women’s equality, we are still fighting the culture wars of the 1960s. And women are still losing ground.
Walsh points out the quote from Justice Ginsberg in her dissent related to previous rulings from the court:
Ginsberg quotes the court’s 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, which affirmed the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. “The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives,” Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a Ronald Reagan appointee, wrote for the majority. More than two decades later, both of those abilities – to “participate equally” and “control their reproductive lives” – are still widely contested for women.
It did not go unnoticed, by most observers, the pretzel that Justice Alito turned himself into in order to carve out what he called a “narrow exception” … and to hand his extremist supporters more grist for their anti-woman mill:
Justice Samuel Alito worked so assiduously to narrow the implications of the court’s Hobby Lobby ruling that he made its disrespect for women’s health, privacy and autonomy even more obvious and outrageous. […]
How did it happen that the only issue on which religious liberty trumps existing employment law, for the court’s conservative majority, is the issue that pertains to women’s freedom and sexuality? By emphasizing how narrowly tailored the court’s decision is, Alito only underscored its sexist radicalism. But that’s fitting. From the beginning, the entire controversy over the ACA’s contraceptive mandate served to highlight the backlash against women’s freedom we’ve endured in the last few decades.
From Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a “slut” for supporting the mandate, to Mike Huckabee lamenting that Democrats were using it to appeal to women who “can’t control their libidos,” the outrage and abuse exposed the deep fear of women’s freedom at the heart of the modern conservative movement.
Conservatives to women: get a husband and place your life in his hands. And sex only for procreation, missy!
We may get the last laugh, if we can hang on long enough:
These backward attitudes don’t reflect majority opinion. On abortion, on the contraception mandate, on women’s rights generally, Americans remain broadly supportive of measures to allow women to “participate equally in the economic and social life of the nation,” to use Sandra Day O’Connor’s words from Casey.[…]
The GOP’s last reliable female voting bloc is older, married, white Christian women, and their time is passing. It will pass more slowly if other women fail to vote in 2014, but the right’s crippling panic over women’s autonomy will eventually doom it to irrelevance.
The last reliable Republican female voting bloc is women so fearful of angering men (or unsure of their own worth) that they are willing to suspend all rational thought.
We can fix the Hobby Lobby ruling in a number of ways. But they all require that Democrats win back Congress from the regressivites.
Let’s do it.