Boy, the Roberts Five on the U.S. Supreme Court did a number on women this week, didn't they? The abortion clinic access decision was bad, the anti-labor decision—which disproportionately hits low-income female workers—awful, and then came Hobby Lobby, the one that has dominated news and discussion for three days. Here's a review of that decision and its aftermath.
On Tuesday, the court released it's long-awaited and wholly anticipated ruling that Hobby Lobby and other "closely held" corporations would not have to provide health insurance that covered birth control without a copay to their employees, as mandated by Obamacare, because some of these corporations might have wholly unfounded and totally misguided religious "beliefs" about what those contraceptives do. They "believe" that those kinds of birth control might cause an abortion. Which is completely, unequivocally, scientifically not true. But hey, SCOTUS says, as long as you sincerely believe in something that punishes women who have sex, okay by us. Don't miss Adam Bonin's analysis of the decision and its legal muster, or lack thereof.
Democrats in the Senate along with the White House immediately condemned the decision, and began discussions about how to make sure that women still have access to affordable birth control. The White House clearly prefers congressional action to executive action, but that's a luxury President Obama just doesn't have. Congress is incapable of acting, it's far too dysfunctional to pass a transportation bill, much less a fix to the hated Obamacare. No, executive action—bold, far-reaching, take-the-GOP-bastards-on action—is what's going to be required.
Outside of government, many analysts—buttressed by Justice Ginsburg's dissent— rejected the notion at first put forward that this was a "narrow" ruling. We saw the first instance of the slippery slope it created when a number of religious leaders who also happen to make a pretty penny through federal contracts wrote to President Obama asking that he exempt them from his order that federal contractors have to hire gay people, too. They're on a roll, apparently. Expect much more litigation on the birth control mandate in particular, but also on any number of religious-exemption demands.
As much as a setback this ruling is, and as many terrifying implications as it has for further jurisprudence in which religious freedom could trump everything else, it really could mark a turning point in the war on women. Electorally, the GOP has a huge birth control problem. Large majorities believe contraception is totally moral and good, and overwhelming numbers of women say so. This could be the catalyst to get those women, who tend not to turn up for midterm elections, to the polls this November. This could be the beginning of the end of the religious right and the GOP that bows down to it.