On the not-so-narrow scope of the Hobby Lobby ruling

Dear Dad,

When I heard about the Supreme Court crafting their Hobby Lobby response narrowly, I was only mildly relieved. You say that the decision was moderate, that it only applies to privately held companies. This is false.

First, Dad, the decision applies to “closely held” companies, or companies controlled by a family or small group of people. That’s 90 percent of the companies in the U.S.

But that’s not what worries me so much as the fact that these companies can be granted exemptions on grounds of “sincerely held” religious beliefs. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out, the medical effects could be far reaching:

Would the exemption…extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations[?]…Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today’s decision.

And then there’s the fact that this ruling could be used to justify hiring discrimination. Sure, the justices thought to clarify that this ruling could not apply to matters of racial discrimination, which was some excellent foresight, but they didn’t talk about other prejudices. What about, for instance, LGBT individuals? They were conveniently left unprotected, and in fact several groups have already asked Obama to issue a religious exemption for his upcoming executive order banning gender or sexual orientation discrimination in hiring by federal contractors.

Justice Ginsburg said it best when she said the Supreme Court had wandered into a minefield, Dad. I fear we’re just seeing the start.

Lookin’ out,



One thought on “On the not-so-narrow scope of the Hobby Lobby ruling

  1. Pingback: The Oh So Narrow Scope | Father of a Feminist

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