The Supreme Court Thinks That Corporations Are People but Women Aren’t

As far as the Supreme Court is concerned, we’re still in the 19th century when it comes to women’s rights. In a 5 to 4 decision, the Supreme Court today ruled that for-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby can discriminate against their female employees by denying them birth control coverage as required under Obamacare as long as those corporations believe that doing so “violates” their religious beliefs.

According to the Court, “closely-held” corporations like Hobby Lobby are protected by a 1993 law called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act - a law that protects people - let me repeat, PEOPLE, as in homo sapiens sapiens - from having “substantial burdens” placed on their religious beliefs.

There are a lot of things to talk about when it comes to the Hobby Lobby case - the fact that Hobby Lobby’s arguments weren’t based in scientific fact, the fact that Hobby Lobby actually invests in companies that make the very same birth control it says goes against its religious beliefs, the fact that it’s more than ready to pay for male birth control procedures like vasectomies, the fact that much of what they sell comes from China, the home of forced abortions - you name it.

All of these things are important and show just how insane and fundamentally hypocritical the Court’s decision really was. But in the end, the most damning thing of all about today’s ruling is that it shows that one branch of our government, the Supreme Court, believes that the "rights" of non-breathing, definitely-not-alive corporations trump the rights of the 51 percent of the population which has a uterus.

If you thought that American society had moved beyond the idea that women were property or even just second-class citizens, then think again. The Hobby Lobby decision is just more proof that while women can now vote, the most powerful people in our country are still stuck in the 19th century. They just can’t wrap their heads around the idea that women are - you know - real people who deserve the same rights as men.

Not much, apparently, has changed since 1873, the year that the Supreme Court ruled that despite the 14th Amendment giving all “persons” equal protection under the law, Illinois could prevent Myra Bradwell from joining the bar because she was a woman whose proper place was in the home, someone who had “no legal existence separate from her husband.”

Make no mistake about it: If the Hobby Lobby case was about the right of a Jehovah’s Witnesses-owned business to deny its male workers coverage for blood transfusions, it never would have gotten this far. It’s only because the American right and its handpicked cheerleaders in the Supreme Court don’t think women deserve the same rights as men that Hobby Lobby turned out the way it did.

If you can give me another reason, I’ll consider it. But as far as I’m concerned, the furor about the birth control mandate and the Hobby Lobby case was, for conservatives at least, always about the fact that the issue at stake was a woman’s right to control her own body.

Obviously, the court’s ruling on Hobby Lobby today could have been a whole lot worse. The justices did, after all, at least have the courtesy to say that their decision shouldn’t be seen as a go-ahead for other corporations to start doing whatever they want because their “religion” says so.

But I won’t mince words. The Hobby Lobby ruling was a loss for everyone who thinks women are actual people and a win for everyone who thinks that corporations and rich bosses should dominate society at the expense of everyone else.

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