July 2, 2014

Why am I Subsidizing Boner Pills?

In the wake of five men on the Supreme Court deciding that corporations, provided they are "closely held", can have religious preferences, the scene is set for some bad things to happen.

First bad thing: this is another "one-off" decision by the conservative wing of the Supreme Court to get a result that following precedent would have denied them. Just like Bush v. Gore, it is an on-the-fly decision tailored to get the result they want. The Hobby Lobby case will not apply to all corporations, and (according to the judges) not even all health care options. Just 16 different kinds of contraception for women who happen to work for "closely-held" corporations.

And yes, it's all of them. One of the arguments after the decision was that the ruling only applied to the four kinds of contraception that Hobby Lobby supporters called "abortifacents". Their use of the term, unlike actual science, is more of a pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo catch-all word wrapped up in the Shroud of Turin. It has less to do with worrying about an egg smaller than the point of a needle and more about their need to go all Helen Lovejoy:

Yes, won't somebody think of the children? Because with decisions like this, our children are going to grow up in a very fucked up society.

Second bad thing: "Closely-held" corporations are a lot more prevalent than you think. According to this piece in the Wall Street Journal, up to 90% of American companies qualify as "closely-held".

The Internal Revenue Service defines a closely held company as a corporation that has more than 50% of the value of its outstanding stock directly or indirectly owned by five or fewer individuals at any time during the last half of the tax year. It also cannot be a personal-service corporation.

Massive corporations like Mars Inc. and Cargill Inc. actually qualify as "closely-held" companies. Those two companies alone employ over 200,000 people.

Now, will all these companies follow Hobby Lobby and discriminate against women and their health-care choices? Likely not. Least of which because it makes your company look ignorant, backwards and ridiculous.

But now there is a legal stamp of approval to do something like this. It creates a constant sense of concern for women because now they could lose a part of their health care.

Third bad thing: There is no guarantee this stops here. Remember the first bad thing about conservative court members trying to limit this religious exemption? There is no guarantee that will happen. Justice Ginsberg, in a stinging dissent, made it clear that the Court had entered some very dangerous territory.

Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be 'perceived as favoring one religion over another,' the very 'risk the [Constitution's] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.

"The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield."

And it has. Now that the Court established that a corporation can have religious beliefs, trying to tell a closely-held corporation run by Jehovah's Witnesses that they have to cover transfusions is going to be a rough sell. And in the end, I don't see how the Court could make them do it because of the Establishment Clause.

In short, because Alito, Scalia and the other three are scared of vaginas, we're going to have a Constitutional crisis sometime in the next 10 years or so over this topic. Thanks a lot, guys.

But really, I just want to know one thing...

Why am I subsidizing boner pills?

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