The Supreme Court saved its most controversial decisions for last for this session, announcing twin 5-4 votes yesterday in cases limiting public sector unions and extending the concept of corporations as persons to include the right to opt out of contraceptive coverage based on the religious beliefs of the owners.
While the rulings were narrower than they could have been, they triggered reactions filled with hyperbole and misinformation. For purposes of today’s column, we’ll take a look at responses to Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the ruling holding closely held corporations (90% of all companies) are “persons” as defined by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.
Make no mistake about it, the creeping person-hood of corporations combined with a ruling favorable to the theocracy set is serious business. But the headlines at places like the Huffington Post were beyond the pale.
Local Democrats Respond
California Assembly leader Toni Atkins’ statement covered just about all the things wrong with the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision:
“The Supreme Court sacrificed justice and freedom today when it said that private business owners could impose their religious beliefs on their employees and deny women their constitutionally recognized right to comprehensive reproductive healthcare. Not only does this have serious implications for women’s health, it also opens the door to employers who want to pick and choose how to treat their employees based upon religion. This is not the principle of religious freedom intended by those who founded our nation and it goes against American’s belief in the right of everyone to be treated fairly and equally in the workplace. I am profoundly disturbed by today’s ruling.”
The Times of San Diego quoted Congressman Scott Peters, who called the decision “outrageous” and “hugely disappointing:”
“Today is a sad day for those of us who believe women have the right to make their own health-care and reproductive decisions without interference from their bosses, and for those who believe it’s in everyone’s interest for women to have access to affordable, safe preventative care,” said the Democrat from La Jolla.
“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is especially outrageous given the large percentage of women who use birth control pills to treat serious ailments ranging from endometriosis to post-chemotherapy hormone replacement. As a husband, father and long-time advocate for women’s rights, I stand with all Americans who find today’s ruling hugely disappointing.”
And on the Blogosphere…
Over at the Becoming SuperMommy blog, writer Lea Grover called out the decision as putting Christianity over other faiths:
Now Hobby Lobby has opened a door that MUST be closed: the elevation of one religion over another.
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that Hobby Lobby has the right to ignore federal laws under the guise of religious persecution, it’s open season on non-Christians in the workplace…
…It’s a dark day in American History. A day when all the non-Christians stood slack-jawed and shocked, amazed that now, their employer could dictate their lives beyond work based on some idea that their moral authority is better, that their faith is more important, that their God is better than your God. Or even that their personal idea of God is somehow superior to another person’s.
Conservative blogger Erick Erickson threw in a little homophobia with this Tweet:
It was a tough choice today. Celebrate Hobby Lobby by going to Chick-Fil-A or making my wife make me a sandwich. #CFAFTW
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) June 30, 2014
Here’s another Republican who has no clue, via Think Progress: Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) agreed on Monday that women use birth control to protect themselves from “recreational behavior,” just hours after the Supreme Court ruled that some companies can refuse to provide health insurance coverage that includes contraceptive services.
The Award for Social Media Stupidity Goes to…
Yesterday’s reactions to the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby ruling aimed at the SCOTUSblog took the cake for “duh.” Apparently many people on Twitter didn’t know the SCOTUSblog is a group that reports on Supreme Court decisions. Those that were unhappy with the SCOTUS (which stands for Supreme Court Of The United States) seemed to think that the blog was the official mouthpiece for the high court.
A tidal wave of stupidity ensued. And the SCOTUSblog returned the favor, reposting angry tweets with snarky responses. Matthew Hall at UT-San Diego posted a column about it:
Upset by the actions of the U.S. Supreme Court, and one contraception ruling in particular, people complained in droves Monday — to the wrong Twitter account.
Thinking they were vilifying an arm of the actual court, these critics found @SCOTUSblog, whose 180,000 followers have long followed it for fast, thorough and private reporting on court matters and decisions, and lashed out at it in waves. Boy, did they ever.
Luckily for laughter, if not for the critics, SCOTUSblog has a pretty good complaint department that knows just how to handle such uninformed vitriol.
I know somebody is going to write in a criticize me for making light of people’s anger about the Hobby Lobby decision, so let me make this clear–the decision sucked. And it also sucks when people can’t take two seconds to make sure their voices of protest are aimed in the right direction. If we can laugh at Teabaggers who can’t spel gud…
S’More Fame and Fortune for Ocean Beach
As July 4th approaches we’re seeing lots of media coverage about the Ocean Beach Town Council’s desire to extricate that community from the tradition of the annual marshmallow wars.
Today’s Los Angeles Times even features our fellow travelers over at the OBRag.
Since the mid-1980s, residents of the Ocean Beach community of San Diego have enjoyed a unique Fourth of July free-for-all: a marshmallow fight after the evening display of fireworks. But the sticky, gooey mess left behind in recent years has increased calls to abandon the tradition.
In that time, the spontaneous, leaderless event has gotten more aggressive, spreading from the beach to the main business street of Newport Avenue and then to surrounding streets. The mess left by countless marshmallows has been unsightly and substantial.
Mike James, 58, bartender, Universal Life Church minister, business leader and former president of the Town Council, established a Facebook page calling for an end to the marshmallow tradition. The OB Rag, a news website, warned: “OB’s funky-hippy vibe has taken a turn toward anarchy.”
Finally, after much civic discourse, the Town Council, a private, nonprofit group, agreed.
[Hint for reporters looking a quick and easy copy about the marshmallow melt-down– Here’s the link for all the OB Rag’s dozens of stories over the years, including a history of the marshmallow battles. You’re welcome.]
…And the following graphic may well be a fake. I found it reposted on Facebook….but still…what could go wrong?
The Real News Out of OB
Meanwhile, back in the real world, residents in Ocean Beach are fighting to keep their version of an updated community plan alive. Following a notice from the California Coastal Commission, the City Council has agreed to postpone consideration until July 29th at 2pm.
If read the City News Service story at the Times of San Diego (and probably other media outlets) the updated Community Plan was all set for blessing by the city council and the mayor.
The City Council and community leaders, with the support of Mayor Kevin Faulconer, were prepared to approve the update at Monday’s City Council meeting.
However, the Coastal Commission informed city officials late Friday of 43 recommended modifications. Once the City Council approves the plan, the commission is one of two outside agencies that will have to give their own okays.
Checking Up on Our ‘Gross Political Product’
Effective today, according to the Sunlight Foundation, every broadcast television station in the country will have to post online copies of contracts and other information about the political advertisements they are airing.
The ability to take a close and more accurate read of spending on (mostly negative) political TV ads — already north of $40 million in April when the Wesleyan Media project released a study on this year’s Senate contests — represents a rare victory for transparency in a political system increasingly inundated with dark money. It’s also a huge expansion of a pilot project launched two years ago, when the Federal Communications Commission (FEC) ordered affiliates of the top broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC) in the nation’s 50 largest TV markets to begin online posting of their political ad files.
That order covered about 230 TV stations; the one that takes effect this week will expand that number to more than 2,000. The Sunlight Foundation has made it possible to search and sort those files by advertiser, by date and by state with its Political Ad Sleuth tool.
On This Day: 1929 – Some 1,100 streetcar workers strike in New Orleans, spurring the creation of the po’ boy sandwich by a local sandwich shop owner and one-time streetcar man. “Whenever we saw one of the striking men coming,” Bennie Martin later recalled, “one of us would say, ‘Here comes another poor boy.’” Martin and his wife fed any striker who showed up. 1951 – Bob Feller set a major league baseball record as he pitched his third no-hitter for the Cleveland Indians. 1956 – Elvis Presley appeared on “The Steve Allen Show.” He was told not to dance and Allen had him sing “Hound Dog” to a real basset hound wearing tails.
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