Debates regarding Monday’s US Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. raged on all week and continue to infiltrate every medium, even on – and maybe especially on this Independence Day.
[NB: SCOTUSblog again stands out as one of the highest quality resources on the Internet.]
One of my favorite collections of thought can be found in this outstanding set of links to woman-authored angles in TIME, MSNBC, Ebony, and other outlets. Thanks to Women, Action and the Media (WAM!) for publishing it. (Disclosure: I’m a WAM! member.)
Generally speaking, the variety of perspectives isn’t so far and wide. They tend to divide into two categories: it’s a religious freedom case or it’s a birth control case.
It’s both. And then some.
If you have any lingering doubts, read up on the Supreme Court’s unsigned opinion issued yesterday in Wheaton College v. Burwell. A quote from Justice Sonia Sotomayor sums up how interconnected the two perspectives are:
“After expressly relying on the availability of the religious-nonprofit accommodation [in the Affordable Care Act] to hold that the contraceptive coverage requirement violates RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] as applied to closely held for-profit corporations, the court now . . . retreats from that position,” she wrote.
The case is also about the nature of an entity created by legal contrivance for the purpose of avoiding personal liability – corporations. This excellent column and comment thread in which the Plain Dealer’s consumer writer, Sheryl Harris, engages frequently and with a real voice, does a nice job capturing this perspective. I’ve found precious few articles on the future of the piercing the corporate veil concept, yet, as Sheryl’s column implies, how can it not be (and rightly so) in jeopardy?
I always believed that the Supreme Court, just like the other two branches of government, is supposed to make decisions that work for all of us, devoid of injecting ideology but maintaining an integrity similar to what we expect from and believe is contained within the Declaration of Independence, our Constitution and its amendments. But I learned in college that the executive branch doesn’t really work that way, and over the last ten years, I’ve learned that our legislative bodies are failing to work that way. Now, it’s more clear than ever that the highest court in the land, as we are schooled to call it, sits so high up that it’s lost touch too with what it is to maintain the integrity of founding principles as they apply and need to be preserved to apply in the year 2014 and beyond.
Justice Antonin Scalia may be a four corners of the document kind of guy who loves to rail against whatever he claims is judicial activism, but what he and the majority did in Hobby Lobby through their interpretation of RFRA and their now subsequent, implied application already of that interpretation, has the potential to unleash discontent and divides that make our current divisions look imperceptible.
How we advance from here to a country of people – whether in corporate or flesh models – that can govern itself is the problem to be solved. And that does not begin by cordoning off ourselves from each other, and our roots.