On Monday June 30, 2014 the United States Supreme Court ruled that closely held companies are not required to provide paid benefits for employees that contradict the religious beliefs of the owners. The ruling was praised, vilified and protested from all points of the political compass, and provided an instructive look at two points I wish to illustrate.
First and foremost, this ruling is being cast by progressives and other leftists as a victory in the mythical Republican “War on Women”, saying that “bosses can’t dictate women’s health and reproductive choices” and using the ruling as ammunition to attack Republicans and conservatives. Their stridency, unwillingness to listen to those who disagree, name calling and attacking is all quite typical of the way the progressive left plays the game.
To clarify, Hobby Lobby’s health insurance coverage provides for 16 types of birth control. They provided this coverage before and after the Affordable Care Act became law. Hobby Lobby management is not ordering their female employees not to have sex. They are not saying that their employees cannot obtain an abortion or abortion-inducing (or pregnancy preventing) drugs through other means, including (gasp) paying for it themselves. The company sued for an exception because paying for such abortifacients is contrary to the owners’ religious beliefs. As a reminder, the First Amendment to the Constitution protects freedom of religion.
Much Ado About Nothing
The left is deliberately using this ruling as a ploy to further divide Americans, incite fear among women voters and get the upper hand on a campaign issue during an election year. While many conservatives and Republicans (wrongly, in my view) do want to limit or outlaw abortion, this ruling does not do so. Women in America still have the ability to have a safe and legal abortion, or even use the abortifacients Hobby Lobby was granted an exception from paying for.
I believe the end goal of many of these activists is taxpayer funded abortions and “free” birth control. They label any opposition to “free” contraceptives or abortion-on-demand as part of the war on women (it isn’t). While I support women’s rights regarding abortion (except late term, unless the life of the mother is at risk), healthcare and reproductive choices, I do not support taxpayer funding of such. For the record, I don’t support taxpayer funding of men’s erectile dysfunction pills either. Inasmuch as a vasectomy is essentially similar to a hysterectomy, they should both be covered by insurance, as I suspect they are in virtually all insurance plans. This goal, of course, is part of their larger goal of increasing the size, scope, reach and involvement of government in our society and individual lives.
In furtherance of this goal, the “women’s rights” activists are using several “rules” straight out of Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, including:
- Rule #5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It’s hard to counterattack ridicule, and it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.”
From the Twitter, Facebook and blog posts I read, I saw lots of ridicule. Any person, especially a man, who dared to defend the ruling or push back against the abortion activists was attacked and called all kinds of names, and even told to die. Hypocrisy note: any conservative speakers who talk like this are roundly (and rightly) condemned. But this is normal operating procedure for leftists.
- Rule 8: Keep the pressure on. Use different tactics and actions and use all events of the period for your purpose. “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition. It is this that will cause the opposition to react to your advantage.”
From all directions, the pressure is on. Abortion activists on Twitter and Facebook abound and are relentless in their litany of “War on Women”. Progressive blogs including Huffington Post, Salon, ThinkProgress and others have prominent stories on how Republicans are trying to limit women’s healthcare choices and “take rights away from women”. As I reminded a candidate for office today on Twitter, the ruling does not do that. It merely protects an employer from having to pay for something it finds offensive.
- “Rule 11: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it. Don’t try to attack abstract corporations or bureaucracies. Identify a responsible individual. Ignore attempts to shift or spread the blame.”
Notwithstanding that they are attacking a corporation in this case, they are using the rest of rule #11. If any male person dares to try to defend the ruling, they are attacked in quite vicious and personal ways. The website Twitchy documented several hate filled tweets that were posted by these “women’s rights activists”.
All of this is well-documented in Barry Rubin’s book Silent Revolution: How the Left Rose to Political Power and Cultural Dominance”. From the classic techniques of demonizing the opposition, attacking and intimidating opponents into silence, lies and extravagantly exaggerated claims, this uproar is all too familiar to anybody who follows politics.
The second point to illustrate from this furor is that it eloquently bolsters the case Mark Levin makes in Chapter Four of his book The Liberty Amendments for a constitutional amendment for “An Amendment to Establish Term Limits for Supreme Court Justices and Super-Majority Legislative Override”.
Because Levin puts it so much more eloquently than I could, I quote:
“It would seem that if a Supreme Court majority of five lawyers has the final word on constitutional matters, then governance comes down to selecting five lawyers. This is obviously contrary to the Framer’s intent. Had the Constitutional Convention conferred such authority on a handful of individuals, which it most assuredly did not, it is indeed doubtful it would have conferred life terms on them and provided no effective recourse.” (print copy, pp 55-56)
It is for exactly this reason that Supreme Court justices should be term-limited just as the president is (and members of Congress should be), and to allow for some sort of legislative override to judicial decisions that a sufficient majority finds unreasonable, and to provide a check on the power of the Supreme Court.
While I support this Hobby Lobby ruling, there have been many SCOTUS rulings I don’t support, and I’m sure there will be rulings in the future I will feel as passionately about as the abortion activists do about this one. I think this proposed constitutional amendment would go a long way to redressing this problem and creating a needed check on the Supreme Court and restoring the balance of power among the three branches of government.
This Happened As An Unintended Consequence of the Affordable Care Act
Lastly – this would never have been litigated had it not been for the Affordable Care Act. Because the heavy hand of the federal government attempted to impose a duty on closely held private businesses that was contrary to the owners’ religious beliefs, this situation arose.
Before the ACA, the female employees of Hobby Lobby were able to access many different kinds of contraceptives including abortifacients. It was only due to the company’s review of their benefits in preparation for compliance with the ACA that this came to light.
Before the ACA, Hobby Lobby had no problem keeping their stores staffed, keeping their shelves stocked and serving customers. In fact, the company is known to be “family-friendly” and as far as I know, there was no uproar from the female employees regarding the contraceptive choices included in the company’s health plan, presumably because many of the employees’ beliefs were consistent with those of the owners.
It was not until the federal government forced every employer to conform to a standard established by one political party (Democrats) without any exceptions (except for all the ones granted illegally to Congress, unions, and other Democrat constituencies after the law was passed) that it became the height of hypocrisy for the left to whine that “bosses should not dictate women’s healthcare decisions” when they are the very same ones who want the federal government to dictate everybody’s healthcare decisions. They can’t have it both ways.
In the end, we still have a (mostly) free market economy in the United States and Hobby Lobby competes for employees and customers in the marketplace just like any other company owned and staffed by people who choose to live, manage and work according to their beliefs. I suspect that Hobby Lobby will emerge stronger from this ordeal and their stand on principle will be rewarded.
By Richard D. Turnquist
July 1, 2014