The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby today in a narrow 5-4 decision that allows the owners of for-profit corporations to deny health insurance coverage for some types of contraceptives for their employees. The decision cements in place the idea that corporations are people entitled to Constitutionally-protected rights like free speech.
As it turns out, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette was front and center on this issue and he has taken a much bigger role in fighting the Affordable Care Act at the national level than any other state Attorney General. He has, in fact, filed amicus briefs in no less than SIX federal court cases related to denying women this coverage on the basis of the company owner’s religious beliefs. In every one of these cases, the company is a for-profit corporation, not a religious organization.
- Legatus & Weingartz Supply Co. v. Sebelius – Filed an amicus brief in U.S. District Court in 2012.
- Autocam Corp. v. Sebelius – Filed an amicus brief in U.S. District Court in 2012.
- Domino’s Farms Corp. v. Sebelius – Filed an amicus brief in U.S. District Court in 2013.
- MK Chambers Co. v. Sebelius – filed an amicus brief in U.S. District Court in 2013.
- Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius – Authored the multi-state amicus brief filed in 2012.
- Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius – This is the decision handed down today by the Supreme Court. Schuette uthored the multi-state amicus brief filed in 2012.
Mark Totten, a Democrat seeking the nomination for Attorney General issued this statement:
Moments ago, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with Bill Schuette in his national fight on behalf of Hobby Lobby and other for-profit corporations to allow CEOs to deny women insurance coverage for contraceptives.
Who are the victims of Bill Schuette’s crusade? Thousands of women who will experience more unplanned pregnancies. In a state with three of the most dangerous cities in America and the weakest consumer protections in the nation, it’s preposterous that Michigan’s chief law enforcement officer is more focused on pushing his extreme social agenda than keeping families safe.
Schuette’s far-right crusades will only continue if we don’t stop him now: for another four years as AG, and then perhaps as your Governor. We all have a responsibility to stop him.
Increased access to contraceptives has been one of the most wildly popular components of the Affordable Care Act. In fact, women saved more than $483 million on prescriptions for oral contraceptives last year alone. However, thanks to Bill Schuette and other religious conservatives, that increased access may no longer be available to large numbers of women. Not because of their own personal beliefs. Not because they work for a church or a company run by some religious organization. Rather, it’s due to the religious beliefs of the owner of the for-profit company they work for.
The irony in all of this is that much of Bill Schuette’s case for supporting these lawsuits by for-profit companies is due to his belief that corporations are people. And yet, when was the last time you saw a corporation go to church? When has Hobby Lobby, as a business, ever worshipped or prayed? The corporation cannot have “religious beliefs” and yet it, in this case Hobby Lobby, wants to be (and has now received) exemption from following federal law on religious grounds.
Totten put it this way in an op-ed at MLive.com:
The problem with Schuette’s argument is that corporations don’t have souls and can’t have faith. Corporations are not people. They’re not God’s children and creation. Our religious liberties are fundamental to who we are as Americans. But these freedoms are far too precious to allow for-profit corporations to use them as a tool to ignore our laws. That allowance cheapens the very freedoms we cherish.
It will also harm thousands of women here in Michigan. The result of Schuette’s campaign will almost certainly be more unplanned pregnancies. And an increase in the number of abortions will likely follow.
Michigan faces far too many challenges for our Attorney General to use his time and taxpayer dollars to fight crusades like this one. Corporations have plenty of lawyers; average Michiganders do not. In a state with three of the most dangerous cities in America and the weakest consumer protections in the nation, it’s appalling that Michigan’s Attorney General has focused our resources here.
This is simply one more effort to chip away at the rights of women to control their own reproductive choices. And when it comes to restricting women’s health choices, Bill Schuette is the standard bearer for the effort.
UPDATED: As Joan McCarter points out at Daily Kos, what the SCOTUS has done, at least the five men that voted in favor of Hobby Lobby, is to rule that it’s perfectly fine to discriminate against women:
The U.S. Supreme Court has given corporations even more personhood by deciding that they can have religious beliefs in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores,/i>. They ruled that closely held companies are exempt from the contraceptive coverage mandate for their employees’ health insurance, and are exempt from that provision of the Affordable Care Act. The decision, 5-4 and the majority opinion written by Alito, is being described as “narrow.” It is narrow, in that basically only applies to women. [...]
So religious belief trumps medical science and women’s ability to make their own health care decisions, and corporations get to dictate that, according to the majority of the Supreme Court.