Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Hobby Lobby Dissent Is The Best Takedown Ever
The Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby case basically turned into a heated he-said, she-said between Justices Samuel Alito and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Alito, writing the majority opinion for the court, alleged that the ruling was very specific and wouldn't open the floodgates for further religious objections from for-profit corporations. And in a brutally awesome takedown, Ginsburg slammed the Hobby Lobby ruling in her dissent, calling it a "decision of startling breadth."
Her dissent, which was joined by Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer on all but one section, is a passionate manifesto that defends American women's right to reproductive healthcare and, well, calls BS on much of Alito's reasoning.
In the 5-4 decision, the high court ruled that closely-held for-profit companies are protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and so they have a right to deny contraception coverage to their employees. The ruling effectively overrides the Health and Human Services mandate, which required all companies of a certain size to provide health insurance for contraception, including the IUD and morning-after pill.
Alito and the concurring justices were careful to tailor the decision to just contraception. The Supreme Court insisted other procedures or medications, such as vaccines, wouldn't be subject to the same reasoning. But Ginsburg didn't buy that, writing, "the Court holds that commercial enterprises, including corporations, along with partnerships and sole proprietorships, can opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs."
And that's just her first sentence.
Ginsburg alleged that the Supreme Court cared more about the religious rights of for-profit companies than the rights of the women they employed:
Ginsburg then leads off with a quote from the 1992 Supreme Court abortion case Planned Parenthood v. Casey: "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."
Congress, Ginsburg writes, has delivered on this belief when it devised the Affordable Care Act. The ACA has been nothing but beneficial to women, because it helped ease the burden of healthcare cost for millions of U.S. women. After all, "the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month's full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage," Ginsburg writes.
Ginsburg vehemently objected to the court's decision that some for-profit organizations had specific religious freedoms. According to Ginsburg, these companies shouldn't be protected because accommodations "to religious beliefs or observances ... must not significantly impinge on the interests of third parties."
She also explains how health insurance actually works, in case her fellow justices forgot.
Ginsburg's biggest objection is to the notion that a for-profit company can have religious objections when it isn't made up of a community of believers from a single denomination, compared to traditional religious institutions. Ginsburg points out that, by law, no religious-based criteria can influence for-profit companies.
However, the Supreme Court has just given these companies the right to do so.
To Ginsburg, this ruling is huge — and quite frightening. As the always-eloquent justice puts it: "The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield."
You said it, Ginsburg. The dissent was so epic that there's already a song of it making the rounds on YouTube.