We are shocked because this sets a precedent that may allow for corporations, already considered 'persons' by the Supreme Court, to opt out of other laws, or parts of laws, that they don't like as long as they can prove their reasoning is motivated by religious belief. The decision was limited specifically to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and contraception coverage, but it sends a signal to 'closely held' corporations that they may find a sympathetic ear at the Supreme Court when they decide that their 'religion' obligates them to seek exemption from other laws the impinge on their beliefs (labor laws? environmental regulation?).
We are dismayed by the fact that the Supreme Court seems to believe that the religious liberty of 'persons' such as corporations supersedes the human rights of women. There is no war on religion in this country, but there is an assault on secularism, and this case is a perfect example. From gay marriage and sectarian prayers at public meetings, to abortion and opposition to the ACA, the religious right in this country is fighting not for the right to practice their religion, but for the right to oppress and eliminate the rights of others based on religious belief.
And we are galled by the fact that the Supreme Court has said that religious conviction allows a 'person' or closely held corporation that employs others has the right to let their religious convictions supersede the personal medical decisions privately agreed to between a woman her doctor, and her partner (to all the men, this isn't just a 'women's' issue). This is by far the most highly offensive part of this ruling. Anyone who values personal autonomy, privacy, and basic human rights should be livid over this decision.
However, the most offensive thing about this whole decision is not the decision itself, but Hobby Lobby. The family behind Hobby Lobby, the Greens, are devout Christians. They seek to run their company based on Biblical principles. They claim to be sincere in their beliefs and that's why they needed to seek redress of their grievances, and they took it all the way to the Supreme Group. This is so galling, so heinous, and so abhorrent because not only are they seeking to impose their superstitions on their employees, but because they are outright hypocrites regarding this very grievance. In April Molly Redden reported in Mother Jones that:
Documents filed with the Department of Labor and dated December 2012—three months after the company's owners filed their lawsuit—show that the Hobby Lobby 401(k) employee retirement plan held more than $73 million in mutual funds with investments in companies that produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs commonly used in abortions. Hobby Lobby makes large matching contributions to this company-sponsored 401(k).You read that right. Hobby Lobby invests in the companies that manufacture the very contraceptives that so offend their religious convictions. The Greens are hypocrites in the truest sense of the word. They are dissemblers seeking to deceive for their own ends. Ben Domenech writing for the Federalist tried to defend the Green's hypocrisy by saying that "the investments and decisions with them [401[k] plans] are made by employees, not employers [emphasis in original]. The menu of choices is provided not by the employer but by the administrator of the plan, offering a wide range of mutual funds . . . " According to Domenech these retirement plans are administered by the plan administrator, not Hobby Lobby, so their hands are clean. There are two problems with this argument.
First, Domenech makes it seem as if Hobby Lobby has no control over which companies money that they invest in a 401[k] will go to. This is false. Rick Ungar of Forbes debunked this claim in short order by noting:
[N]ot only does Hobby Lobby have an obligation to know what their sponsored 401[k] is investing in for the benefit of their employees, it turns out that there are ample opportunities for the retirement fund to invest in mutual funds that are specifically screened to avoid any religiously offensive products.He went on to name mutual funds such as The Timothy Plan and the Ave Maria Fund which filter out companies that manufacture contraceptives and or support Planned Parenthood.
Second, Domenech's argument that Hobby Lobby had no control over which companies a given mutual fund invested in is precisely the same control that they sought over the administration of the health insurance plans offered to their employees. Apparently Hobby Lobby believes that it has a right to uphold its religious beliefs when it comes to restricting the human rights of its female employees, but that it isn't necessary to stick to their religious beliefs when it profits them. Lying, greedy, self righteous, God damned hypocrites.