Americans have been led to believe that of all the institutions in government, they can depend on honesty from the members of the highest court in the land. However, since the justices on the Supreme Court are above the law, and ethics requirements every other judge in the nation are held to, it is not surprising the conservatives on the Court lied and immediately violated their own ruling to fit their religious worldview.
In the Hobby Lobby ruling, Justice Samuel Alito stated the ruling was narrow in scope, and “should” only apply to religious corporations opposed to certain forms of birth control. That sentiment lasted less than twenty-four hours until the High Court quietly ordered all lower courts to rehear any cases in which private for-profit religious companies sought to deny coverage for any type of contraception; not just the specific types Hobby Lobby was opposed to because in their religious minds, they are abortion.
Under the Affordable Care Act, there are 20 forms of contraception that were required to be covered as preventive services and necessary to women’s health. Although the Court did not dispute the science, or a compelling need for women’s health, they agreed with Holy Hobby Lobby that Plan B, Ella, and two types of IUD were abortion and violated the corporate religious principles. Justice Samuel Alito, in writing for the majority, used several questionable qualifiers he claimed limited the ruling’s scope, but the very next day they issued a series of orders contradicting the “narrow interpretation” of the decision.
The Justices vacated two separate decisions by the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Autocam Corp. v. Burwell and Eden Foods v. Burwell, and ordered the appeals court to rehear the cases and issue rulings in accordance with the Catholics’ Hobby Lobby decision. The Sixth Circuit rejected requests from Catholic-owned businesses that demanded exemptions because Catholicism considers artificial birth control abortion and is therefore a sin against god. The Court also ordered the District of Columbia Appeals Court to reopen a similar case, Gilardi v. Department of Health & Human Services, and waste taxpayer money because “the conservative majority endorsed the idea that religious objections to insurance that covers any form of preventative healthcare for women have merit” according to Catholic Church doctrine.
It is relevant to note that the five male conservatives, who agreed with Hobby Lobby, as Catholics believe that any form of “unnatural birth control” is abortion. This is despite all known medical science, and fundamental common sense to the contrary. The Court’s Catholics rejected claims filed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and several other medical associations that “there is no scientific evidence that contraceptives, emergency or otherwise, available in the United States and approved by the FDA affect an existing pregnancy. Instead, they prevent ovulation, so there is no egg to fertilize, and no egg, like no implantation, means no pregnancy and no abortion.” But that is medical science and the Church speaks for god and Catholics have the documentation to prove it.
According to the Catholic Humanae Vitae (n.14 ) and not the Christian bible, the Church holds that “any unnatural or artificial means of birth control are immoral, blameworthy, sinful, and violate god’s law because they are abortion.” The Catholics also claim that at one time all Protestant religions in the world obeyed Catholic dogmata regarding “unnatural birth control” and they are on a crusade to rein in all Protestant denominations to dutifully adhere to Church doctrine; precisely as the High Court’s conservatives intended.
There is nothing that will sway Catholics from their belief that as religious rulers, when they say no contraceptives, they mean no contraceptives; even if they are provided by a third party at no cost to Catholics. For example, Notre Dame was given an exemption from providing contraception coverage in health plans, and the cost of providing them was shifted to a third-party to completely isolate the Catholic University from dealing with, or providing, contraception. It was not enough for the Catholics and they argued that it was immoral for a third party outside administrator to provide the objectionable coverage they regard as abortion. The Seventh Circuit Appellate Court denied Notre Dame’s demand to, as Judge Richard A. Posner wrote, “Forbid any insurer and plan administrator from providing any contraceptive coverage to Notre Dame staff or students.”
Notre Dame is appealing the ruling to the High Court because now that the conservatives ruled according to Catholic dogma, they will get the ruling, and control over students and staff, they demand. A spokesman for the Catholics said, “Our concern remains that if government is allowed to entangle a religious institution of higher education like Notre Dame in one area contrary to conscience, it’s given license to do so in others.” Many Americans’ concern is that if Catholics are allowed to enforce their birth control dogma contrary to women’s conscience’s regarding their own reproductive health, it will take license to do so in others. Catholics are already attempting to take license to discriminate against hiring gays or employees that do not share the employers’ faith.
Interestingly, according to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2011 98% of self-identified Catholic women of reproductive age (15-44) have used a method of contraception other than natural family planning at some point during their reproductive lives making them sinners in the eyes of the Catholic Church. Further, 88% of Catholic women are currently using contraceptives the Catholics consider unnatural, sinful, immoral, murder, and a violation of god’s Catholic doctrine. Now that the Catholics reined in Southern Baptists, Pentecostals, and other evangelical fundamentalists, the five conservatives on the High Court increased the chances their crusade to ban contraceptive use in America is one step closer to realization.
As Americans are witnessing, regardless what Alito and the other conservative Catholic justices claimed, their decision set a deliberate precedent the religious right and United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will use to affect the change Church dogma demands. Besides giving lower courts permission to expand their logic in the Hobby Lobby decision, they immediately broadened their decision’s scope by ordering other appeals courts to rehear and reopen (rule according to Catholicism) prior cases to issue the correct (Catholic) ruling. The Supreme Court’s conservatives are doing precisely what Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg predicted in her dissent noting the logic in Alito’s decision went far beyond the limited scope the conservatives claimed. When she wrote that, “The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield,” she misread the intent of the conservatives. They did not randomly “venture into a minefield,” they planted the mines and opened the floodgates for Catholics and the religious right cohort to do what they yearned after all along; ban contraceptives and put an end to married and single women alike from having “consequence free sex.”
For centuries, the Catholic Church ruled the so-called Christian world unchallenged until England’s King Henry VIII broke the cycle of religious tyranny when he informed the Pope in Rome that his authority ended at England’s borders. Unfortunately for American women, and soon the gay community, there is no King Henry to hold the Catholic Church in check. Now that the conservative Court empowered the Church to define contraceptives as murder and abortion, the GOP gained a powerful ally in their war on women. With assistance from the religious right, Catholics are a step closer to impose personhood on a zygote and ban contraceptives they, and Papal Supremacy, regard as murder.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.