Last week’s Hobby Lobby decision at the Supreme Court was contentious, as you probably noticed. For liberals, it was an egregious misreading of the competing interests at stake, and suggested for-profit companies can use possibly specious religious arguments to deny women their rights under Obamacare.
For rightbloggers it was mainly a fun victory. Oh, they were, as you might imagine, glad that ladies lost to religion and corporations — in their world, that’s a twofer! — but most of them didn’t press that point; it was as if, given the imminence of election season, they didn’t want to sack-dance on female voters too much. So they instead devoted their writings to the distress of liberals, and how it proved they were stupid, a compelling message they can bring to voters of either gender.
The Court ruled that for-profit corporation Hobby Lobby could buck the federal requirement that it must supply employee health insurance that includes birth control. They are now exempt on religious grounds, even though Hobby Lobby is a for-profit businesses whose stock-in-trade has nothing to do with religion, because the owners say Jesus told them four of the forms of birth control covered as essential health benefits under Obamacare are abortion — which is not true, at least on this side of the cosmic veil, but the Hobby Lobby folks claim to believe it, and that’s good enough for SCOTUS short-straw-drawer Justice Samuel Alito, though he warned that this schtick would not work with immunizations or blood transfusions because those are serious medical issues.
Rightbloggers were ecstatic. “A huge victory for religious liberty” and “a massive blow to Obama and the liberals who think religious liberty should only operate on their terms,” said Conservative Tribune. “…Obama continues to lose big time at our nation’s highest court, showing that he really has zero regard for what the Constitution says.”
“Join Me in Hobby Lobby Love Day,” said Bristol Pali at Patheos wait wait wait a minute Bristol Palin? Yes, America’s most famous contraception failure told readers “We should all go to Hobby Lobby and buy something to celebrate,” because “buying something at Hobby Lobby will send a strong message.
Thank you for having the guts to stand up to an overreaching President who’s trying to re-make America into his own image.” (You know — black!)
Her Patheos colleague John Mark Reynolds professed to believe the decision meant “long-term traditional religious ideas about human sexuality will prevail in America,” because “support for the sexual revolution is strongest in the young whose views are the least formed. It is weakest in the older, those least likely to change their minds,” and those steadfast older people will by the grace of God live for hundreds of years, like Methusaleh — oh, we give up, we have no idea what he means, though Reynolds did mention “general prosperity for the traditionalists” as a factor, so maybe God will slip them some walking-around money to help the cause along.
Jason Scott Jones and John Zmirak at the Daily Caller also felt a turn in the tide. While “a teenage girl in 1848 whose boyfriend wanted to sleep with her would have had many reasons to refuse… A girl of the same age today would have fewer breaks on the power of instinct, knowing that contraception might well prevent a pregnancy — and that if one resulted, she could abort it.” Also, if she had the kid, “a large array of government programs would provide for her and the child…” Statism makes sluts! Thank God for Alito and the boys: “We would have faced grim times indeed the court had ruled otherwise.” Now America may yet be saved, for “in a decentralized system, thousands of people have the wherewithal to resist and obstruct the progress of evil.”
Best of all, in the brethren’s view, liberals lost, and there’s nothing that cheers them up more. (The Washington Free Beacon‘s analysis was subtitled, “Court’s narrow ruling affirms religious freedom, incenses liberals.”)
To make their nemeses look even sillier, some portrayed the victory as limited, which meant the complaining liberals were overwrought and hysterical — you know, like-a de woman!
For example, the decision brought up more than usual employment of the “liberals scream” locution traditionally used by rightbloggers for this purpose, e.g., “Its funny how liberals scream for everyone’s rights but gods,” “The Three Biggest Lies Liberals Are Screaming About The Hobby Lobby Ruling,” etc.
“Red-faced liberals screamed that yesterday’s Supreme Court decision in favor of the crafting superstore would instantly transform America,” declared John Hayward of Human Events, citing no sources. To show how reasonable he was in contrast to screaming liberals, though, Hayward suggested that liberals were using Hobby Lobby as — say it with me, Alex Jones fans! — a distraction (“For a day or two, nobody’s paying attention to the VA, or the IRS, or Iraq”), and added, “the idea someone’s individual religious conscience could transcend the dictates of the almighty State makes the people we laughingly refer to as ‘liberals’ physically sick,” and other such examples of measured analysis.
When liberal publications like Mother Jones put out articles like “The 8 Best Lines From Ginsburg’s Dissent on the Hobby Lobby Contraception Decision,” rightbloggers quickly responded with the polemic equivalent of answer songs — like “6 Stupid Arguments About Hobby Lobby From Dumb Liberals” (Sean Davis, The Federalist), “Justice Ginsburg’s Eight Worst Lines on Hobby Lobby” (Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review), “9 Myths from Justice Ginsburg’s Hobby Lobby Dissent” (Jonathan Keim, National Review), etc.
Brent Bozell’s make-work project For America began its “Seven Lies the Left should stop telling about the Hobby Lobby ruling” with this: “You might be a liberal if you think that the Supreme Court just banned use of all birth control.” Unsurprisingly, there were no linked citations, though there were several animated gifs.
And quitcherbitchen, bitches, said John McCormack at the Weekly Standard: Hobby Lobby “simply objected to paying for those pills and devices that may kill a human embryo” in their alternate universe, and besides, lots of government programs dole out birth control free, so “the Court didn’t even turn back the clock to the supposedly scary time when middle-class and wealthy citizens might have had to shell out $9 a month for birth control.” (This, by the way, was another popular theme among the brethren: That having health insurance coverage is mooching if you use it for birth control.)
At National Review Deroy Murdock insisted that “Hobby Lobby Actually Lavishes Contraception Coverage on Its Employees,” since there were still 16 forms of it they were willing to provide under the law, and ladies can have the four others if they’ll pay for them, instead of mooching off their health insurance (“the Left’s moaning over Hobby Lobby is less about access to medicine and more about access to free stuff”). So, even though “the Left is foaming at the mouth,” “living in a cartoon of their own making,” and (you knew it was coming) “screaming themselves hoarse,” Hobby Lobby’s no big deal.
Power Line‘s John Hinderaker did his bit by quoting some lawyer who claimed the decision was “meaningless” because the self-certification process that Alito mentioned as a possible compromise — which is already used with explicitly religious non-profits — was, he seemed to think, a dead cinch to be enacted. Rush Limbaugh later picked this up, so Hinderaker’s probably got a bonus check coming.
“The government can also pay for it, which is probably what’s going to happen,” said Laura Ingraham on Fox. “In fact, one major reason the court was willing to provide this accommodation to Hobby Lobby and other closely held corporations is that the administration can easily assure coverage for those women,” said Steve Chapman at TownHall.
Dissenting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg said this was bullshit, and bullshit it proved to be, in short order — the very next day, her colleagues ruled courts that had rebuffed similar challenges from other for-profit corporations, including Eden Foods, had to take them up again — and these plaintiffs weren’t stopping at four alleged abortifacients like Hobby Lobby did: They want all employee birth control ditched, because Jesus is their co-CEO.
And on Thursday the Court ruled Christian college Wheaton didn’t even have to fill out the form that would elude the contraception requirement and allow the government take care of it — which had been the self-certification compromise Alito suggested in his ruling, but which apparently none of the court’s conservative majority (and probably none of the conservative commentators who also mentioned it) took seriously.
Also, anti-gay lawyers Peter LaBarbera and Matt Barber predicted Hobby Lobby would supply some antihomomentum to their nuisance suits against gay rights. “Now, one would think that obtaining cheap, subsidized contraception would be low on the priority list for homosexuals,” said LaBarbera, pausing for a laugh; but, he claimed, “Big Gay Inc is in a tizzy” because after this decision “it is hard to imagine that the same five Supreme Court judges would force mom-and-pop bakeries – or Christian husband-and-wife photographers like the Huguenins – to violate their faith by forcing them to participate in immoral ‘gay weddings.'” Hell, maybe people won’t be forced to sell homosexuals anything. Dream big!
If you wonder where libertarians came down on this struggle between the rights of a corporation and that of women, you haven’t been around many libertarians.
Megan McArdle brought the “insurance coverage of birth control = mooching” message to Bloomberg readers (“…be of good cheer! Generic birth control pills are available from the drugstore for about $25 a month”); libertarian flagship Reason devoted itself to a days-long celebration of Hobby Lobby’s victory.
Sheldon Richman’s was a rare note of discontent at Reason: The ruling “didn’t go nearly far enough,” he said. Richman seemed to wish that all government services would be abolished: “No one has a natural right to force other people to pay for her (or his) contraception or anything else (with or without the government’s help),” he announced. As to a hypothetical about employers refusing transfusions and vaccinations on religious grounds, he cheerfully rejoined, “Why not, indeed? This surely is a slippery slope. But here’s the thing: some slippery slopes are good. This is a good one.” True sons of liberty should be “free to opt out of a contraception mandate on religious grounds but would also be able to opt out of any mandate on any grounds — moral as well as religious — or no grounds at all! That’s freedom.”
To those who viewed Richman’s Gangs of New York vision of society without enthusiasm, he offered a consolation: “You and I could opt out of paying for war and empire.” And if you believe that will ever happen, there’s a Rand Paul for President sticker we’d like to sell you.
Other rightbloggers contributed thumbsuckers over the meaning of it all, which was mainly that liberals stink.
In a column entitled “Why Feminists And Liberals Are Misrepresenting The Hobby Lobby Decision,” Matt K. Lewis of the Daily Caller split hairs for several grafs; access to birth control was not “denied because of their employer’s religious beliefs,” for example, because “women always had the right to purchase whatever they wanted from the drug store on their own…” Yet “rather than applauding the government’s flexibility in making an accommodation for people of faith,” liberals refused to see it Matt K. Lewis’ way, which meant that “the Left decided to play identity politics.” See, “the bogus ‘war on women'” has given a “major incentive for activists and politicians to stoke division and anger,” said Lewis, and it has gotten so bad that — go ahead and click the link, we swear Lewis actually said this — “one can only imagine that whoever is unlucky enough to run against Hillary Clinton will be tagged as a misogynistic troglodyte who encourages gender pay inequality — and perhaps even rape?” First link between Hillary Clinton and false rape accusations is IN THE BOOKS!
Predictably, the Obama Administration fought back, letting voters know that they disagreed with the decision — which, seeing how conservative overreach on women’s issues helped them lose the 2012 election, might be useful to Democrats in November. When Obama tweeted, “Throwback to last week when a woman — not her boss — made her own decisions about her health care. #TBT,” The American Conservative’s Rod Dreher flipped out: This meant Obama “shares NOW’s opinion of the ‘dirty’ Little Sisters of the Poor,” he said, and that Obama believes “advancing the Sexual Revolution require crushing those nuns, and others who share their convictions.”
At the New York Times, Ross Douthat pointed out that Hobby Lobby pays a fair wage and gives to good causes so if you liberals love fair wages and good causes then why don’t you like Hobby Lobby you stupid liberals? Or, if you prefer it in Douthat’s own fancy language: “The political left is expending a remarkable amount of energy trying to fine, vilify and bring to heel organizations… whose commitments they might under other circumstances extol.”
Douthat also thought liberals would be sorry someday — that is, in Douthspeak, “the recent Supreme Court ruling offers a chance… for liberals to pause and consider the long-term implications of this culture-war campaign.” On one side, see, there is Every Religion in the World, and on the other the liberals with their “postsexual revolution liberalism.”
So look out liberals because if you insist on having slut pills us religious people will Go Galt and then your precious poor people will get fucked — or, as rendered in Douthspeak, “If liberals so desire, this division could lead to constant conflict, in which just about every project conservative believers undertake is gradually threatened with regulation enforcing liberal norms… Insist that for legal purposes there’s no such thing as a religiously motivated business, and you will get fewer religiously motivated business owners — and more chain stores that happily cover Plan B but pay significantly lower wages. Pressure religious hospitals to perform abortions…”
It’s like a visit from leg breakers in clerical garb. But Douthat’s misdirection, like that of his colleagues, serves a purpose: rather than just exult over a defeat of women’s rights, which might tip their hand, or of the rights of employees, ditto, they seek ways to enjoy the benefit without looking like monsters to normal people. (We assume a consultant explained to them what that might be.) Therefore, the decision became an indictment of Obama’s lawlessness — for why else would John Roberts’ Court refute him? — and of liberals’ contempt for religious people, whose beliefs must be respected and indeed given pride of place even when they are fanciful and possibly just made up to maximize profit. A win is a win, as they say, and if you can just turn people’s attention away from what the win actually means, they might just come away with the impression that you’re a winner. It’s not like conservatives have had many other wins to brag on lately.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 8, 2014