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Liberals off the reservation

I'm in the clear minority among my brothers and sisters on the left. The condemnation and complaint against the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision has been swift and universally negative. But I was struck while reading a Politico story this morning about the "5 takeaways" from the case...if you make it to page 2...about justices Breyer and Kagan going "off the reservation" as liberal members of the Court.

Not a politically correct way of putting it since that phrase has been in the news lately. But point taken.

In yesterday's decision, those two justices went off into the progressive weeds by bringing up the phantom of a pre-RFRA 1961 challenge to Massachusetts requiring businesses to close on Sunday. From a Jewish deli. That Court said that the law didn't target Jewish business and had a non-religious purpose. But an imaginary collective of Jewish/Muslim butchers who chooses to work under the corporate form of business organization shouldn't lose their right to be open on Sunday (which they would have as individuals) just because they are a corporation. Or, at least, that issue is moot with regard to enforcing RFRA. I think a lot of my progressive friends have forgotten that this issue could just as easily allow an atheist business to benefit as a Christian business to not be involved with birth control.

Even more, I think some of my liberal friends are missing the forest for the trees. They're angry about women's health issues and probably not so hot for employees being subject to the religious whims of their employer. BUT...but...what isn't being talked about on the left I actually noticed that the libertarians picked up on right away. Mainly, that the Court specifically endorsed the idea that while a business can't be compelled to pay for birth control the government certainly could just go ahead and pick up the tab.

Now, in the critique from the libertarian right, it was that sooner or later we're all going to be paying for everyone's birth control so businesses may want to tone down their objections before it becomes a public payment. Right you are and that's why I'm actually fine with this decision is that it opens the door a little wider for single payer healthcare down the road. Let's cut out the middleman of business making decisions about what they will and won't cover and just cover everything. You want birth control? Go pick some up, it's on the taxpayer house. Healthcare for all. As a progressive, that's where we hoped we were headed anyway. Why fight it?

Democrats and liberal organizations are going to raise a lot of cash and drum up a lot of anger over this issue in the short term. But, probably a lot like the idea that money is free speech, just because the ramifications are bad doesn't mean the Court necessarily made a bad decision. In the longterm, I think this case had benefits to both sides. Yes, we will probably see a gushing river of people complaining about their religious freedom being violated...but bring on that discussion! As liberals, we should welcome both the idea that religious views are protected and the idea that we need to better articulate where religious protections end and other rights pick up. And, if you're on the right, you're probably a little worried right now that the Court essentially said there IS a government interest in providing healthcare. Hobby Lobby won on a technicality because the government did not take the least restrictive road. But it's easily remedied. Hobby Lobby doesn't have to pay. Women will get their birth control. Eventually, it's actually the winning side here who loses...by simply paying taxes Hobby Lobby will be paying for birth control.

Which has been one of my head-scratching issues all along is that I don't understand why Hobby Lobby was making a big deal out of this one minor issue considering that their taxes are going to all sorts of un-Christian...or at the very least, secular, things. Why is abortion such a burr in the side?

So, cheer up liberals, the Hobby Lobby decision was actually a victory for us in disguise. If you stop seeing it through the lens of one weird, faith-based company and think of the larger picture...the Supreme Court just told the federal government it should find a taxpayer-funded way to get you your birth control! How cool is that?! Yes, the idiots at Hobby Lobby scored a point and you hate to see it happen. But there's a silver lining here, I promise.

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