State, national columnists

Slippery slope lies ahead after court decision

By July 08, 2014

I saw an old pal a week ago Monday afternoon. Instead of his usual scruffy jeans and T-shirt, he was wearing a suit and tie.

“Hey, Bobby,” I called out, “what’s with the stuffy threads?”

“I have gone and incorporated myself,” he said. “I want to look like the boss.”

“But why are you hugging yourself?” I asked, still puzzled. Even bosses with a high regard for themselves don’t usually go around cuddling themselves in self-affection.

“Because I am now a closely held corporation,” he said. “As soon as the Supreme Court gives the all-clear to other for-profit corporations, I will be a regular boss – you know, telling my workers what is morally right according to my own sincerely held religious beliefs and letting my arms dangle.”

Ah, yes, the Hobby Lobby case, the Supreme Court decision that struck a blow for religious liberty. Bosses in closely held corporations are now at liberty to impose their religious beliefs on female employees concerning contraception in their health care plans.

As Bobby explained it, the government has no compelling interest in insisting on women’s health care options under Obamacare. Of course it doesn’t, Bobby said, “Who do these women think they are? They are not the boss of us.”

Of course, Justice Samuel Alito tried to make clear that the majority opinion was very specific. He insists that it does not say that for-profit corporations can opt out of any law (except tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.

What a sense of humor that Justice Alito has! How they must have laughed in law firms across the country as they began preparing other lawsuits, realizing that the rationale used in this case could apply to Mammon Enterprises Inc. (Slogan: “Our Profit, Your Loss,” soon to be reworked as “Our Prophet, Your Loss.”)

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noticed, too, and she wasn’t laughing. Legal scholars, trained to pick up on nuances in the law others might miss, noted that she is a woman and that two other women on the court joined her in her angry dissent.

For some reason, women don’t like men or incorporated religious families telling them what to do. Typical!

Well, they will just have to get used to it, because religious bosses rule! No wonder Bobby wants to be one. Actually, when it comes to sincerely held religious beliefs, I didn’t realize he had any sincerity or beliefs until now.

But that’s the marvel of the law. If people in the form of a corporation declare they have sincere religious beliefs, the court must accept this. No questions asked!

As it happens, nobody questions the sincerely held religious beliefs of the owners of Lobby Hobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., but the sincere and the insincere can expect to get a pass, which is the problem going forward.

A slippery slope now beckons. We have already slid from the Citizens United decision, when a corporation was deemed a person for purposes of campaign funding, to now considering a corporation a pious artificial entity. What’s next for this creative legal idea that offends common sense and serves God and money?

Maybe Mr. Corporation will go to a gay wedding and refuse to take photographs or bake the cake. Maybe Mrs. Corporation will fire a worker who gets a divorce. Maybe Mrs. and Mrs. Corporation, proprietors of the Family Rest Motel, will refuse accommodations to a couple who can’t prove they are married. Maybe the Supreme Court will say this is all fine.

Justice Alito suggests it can’t happen, but who knows what might ensue when he and the boys get together on the slippery slope. Sure, in this case women can still get contraceptives if they want, but Americans have been put on notice: Your needs don’t have a prayer when someone else’s religion is the boss.

This puts me in bad position. I go to church, although I am hardly sanctimonious enough to be anyone’s boss. Also recently, I wrote a column defending the Supreme Court decision allowing prayer in municipal meetings, which with some reservations I accepted in the spirit of tolerance and religious freedom.

That was before corporations were deemed religious people and judged justified in making other people’s moral business their business. That goes too far and invites a backlash that will hurt all believers.

By the way, my pal plans to be the boss of Bobby’s Lobby, a men’s store. Of course. Sadly for women, men rule.

Reg Henry is deputy editorial-page editor for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Readers may email him at [email protected]

Reg Henry


Discussion | 36 comments

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  • PornacJuly 08, 2014 - 7:40 am

    I love this article. Incorporate to be in charge of your women folk.

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  • Teach5thJuly 08, 2014 - 8:44 am

    What a bunch of nonsense! The Left keeps pushing the idea of a " war on women" by Republicans and anyone who disagrees with them about certain forms of contraception. 16 forms of birth control are available, but that's seldom reported when this decision is reported. The sad part is that women are being used by the Left --- those poor pathetic and helpless little women! Only 16 forms of contraception!!! Gasp! What will they do?

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  • CD BrooksJuly 08, 2014 - 8:50 am

    Teach5th, there IS a war on women from the right. Not only on women but attempts at challenging the rights of all minorities. If you are a woman (?) you should be ashamed for your ign*rance. All women should have 100% of any contraceptive they might need.

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  • Teach5thJuly 08, 2014 - 1:51 pm

    CD - geez, stop it, already! Women should be insulted that the Left thinks they can be manipulated so easily by this non-issue. Yes, I am indeed a woman. I'm just not as pathetically ignorant of my feelings and worth as you are. If a company didn't offer all 20 forms of birth control, let's see . . . What could little old helpless me do? I could use one of the other 16 forms - no, not that! Or, I could go to Planned Parenthood for it. Or, Horrors!!!, I could pay for it myself, then get on one of the other forms so that, should I decide to have a spur-of-the-moment sexual encounter, I wouldn't need a morning-after pill. But, please don't ask me to take care of myself! I need some big, strong men (and some questionable women) to protect me because I am, after all, (just) a helpless woman in their eyes!

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  • Teach5thJuly 08, 2014 - 2:07 pm

    O.k. -Let's try this AGAIN. CD - I am, indeed, a woman. I'm just not a pathetically manipulated one who can be used by the Left to gin up votes by those of both s*x*s who feel women need to be "protected" from those big, bad Republicans. I take care of my own health care. If a company I was working for offered me 16 types of con*r*c*pt**n (I'm never sure why my posts don't get thru' so I can't be too careful), I'm willing to bet that I could choose to use one of them. If, however, I wanted to stamp my little feet and not find one of those compatible to my lifestyle . . . Let's see . . . I could pay for one of the others myself (ho*rors!!!), I could opt to not have random s**ual encounters so that I might need a p*ll to cover me . . . Or, geez, I could quit and go find an employer who covers what I think I'm entitled to as an employee. Then, when I need my teeth fixed and my dental insurance says that a certain procedure is not covered, I could once again, pay for it myself or go find an employer who offers me what I think I'm entitled to. Oh, it's awful being just a put-upon woman!

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  • CD BrooksJuly 08, 2014 - 4:51 pm

    Teach5th, yes I agree it is awful.

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  • rlw895July 08, 2014 - 8:41 pm

    T5: You're a woman. Got it. But you're not a lawyer. See a lawyer friend to explain the slippery slope to you. Make it a woman lawyer friend and maybe she can explain even more.

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  • rlw895July 08, 2014 - 9:57 am

    T5: You don't get the point of the column. Look up "slippery slope."

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  • Teach5thJuly 08, 2014 - 2:10 pm

    Slippery slope? Don't need to look it up. Tell that to Mayor Blumberg who thinks New Yorkers need his big strong arms-of-the-law to protect them from 16 oz. soft drinks and fast food!

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  • rlw895July 08, 2014 - 8:37 pm

    Yes, sugar is addictive, and a killer too.

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  • Mr. SmithJuly 08, 2014 - 9:01 pm

    Rlw: Your Starbucks mochas could be on somebody's radar next. Oil, sugar, caffiene--they can't be good for you. If you persist in this unhealthy habit, the government might have to double your health insurance premium. By the way, not too long ago you were rejecting the slippery slope concept in an argument I made about universal gun registration leading to gun confiscation. What changed?

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  • rlw895July 08, 2014 - 9:14 pm

    Mr.S: Not good for me, yes. But not as bad a 24 ounces of sugar water.

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  • rlw895July 08, 2014 - 9:17 pm

    Mr.S: Nothing has changed about my view of slippery slopes. Sometimes they exist, sometimes they don't. We're discussing a real Supreme Court opinion, not a hypothetical.

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  • SalJuly 08, 2014 - 9:10 am

    Guess who else insist that their religious beliefs trump women's autonomy? The Taliban!

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  • CD BrooksJuly 08, 2014 - 9:21 am

    Sal, the only thing separating the Taliban and our Republican Congress is a little time in history. They want religious rule that brings us right back to the Middle East way of thinking and look how that's going.Tragic and should never happen here. But they keep trying...

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  • Mr. SmithJuly 08, 2014 - 10:41 am

    C'mon, CD: The Taliban and Republicans in congress are the same except for a little time in history? You probably should walk that one back just a smidge--for credibility's sake. Unless of course there have been some recent beheadings and school girl shootings in D.C. that I haven't heard about. Just looking out for you, bud!

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  • CD BrooksJuly 08, 2014 - 1:30 pm

    Mr. Smith et al, please hear me out this is only the beginning and does not end with birth control. The truth lies in religious history. The GOP is trying to force religion into mainstream law and now have been successful in doing so. Religious rule has wrought heinous crimes against humanity including torture, murder, r*pe, molestation and general mayhem throughout time and never answered to it. That behavior and following does continue however in countries across the world to this day. We were fortunate to finally remove that mess from our legal system and file it away where it could do the least harm. Some of you have argued with me regarding this issue for the many years I warned about it coming. There is no argument. I'm sorry to keep repeating it but the recent actions in many states only go to prove my point. Women and minorities are in danger if this garbage continues. That's how those in the Middle East (Taliban, terrorists, religious zealots) would like it and that is where the GOP is going...

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  • Larry WJuly 08, 2014 - 11:57 am

    CD. You have got to be kidding. I know of no evangelical, catholic, Methodist or any other mainstream Christian or Jewish faith that treats women like they do in Saudi Arabia. Just because a religious organization does not wish to pay for a certain type of birth control does not mean that they are at war against women. And saying that the Taliban and the Republican congress are only separated in time is nuts.

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  • rlw895July 08, 2014 - 9:26 pm

    CD: Sometimes fundamentalist Christians are referred to as the "American Taliban," but they are not the same or evolving the same way. We refer to them as the "American" Taliban because they are the closest thing we have to the Taliban, not because they are close.

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  • Mr. SmithJuly 08, 2014 - 10:35 pm

    Republicans and fundamentalist Christians are not one and the same, and neither of those groups equates to the Taliban in any way, shape or form. The next time a fundamentalist Christian threatens to cut off your head if you don't join his church, let me know. Same for Republicans demanding that you stop being a Democrat.

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  • rlw895July 08, 2014 - 11:41 pm

    Mr.S: Are you replying to me?

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  • CD BrooksJuly 09, 2014 - 5:38 am

    Mr. Smith, the views I expressed are no more extreme than what we have all ready seen in the past. Bottom line religious rule is dangerous and the practice world wide has proven that. You can deny and debate any comparisons you like. I don't believe we should allow that opportunity to be revived here.

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  • P.J.July 08, 2014 - 9:20 am

    Anyone notice that Hobby Lobby does not open on Sunday? Why? Religious belief. Don't like their policy? Don't shop there. If they believe the 'morning after pill' is a form of abortion they have a right to that belief. What makes me angry??? Medicare, that doesn't kick in until you're 65 years old, pays for stupid stuff like "Vacurect", erection device, for males! Sorry....I do believe men have a right to have sex, just like women, until the day they die!

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  • JimboJuly 08, 2014 - 6:07 pm

    Did any of the Obama haters notice that Hobby Lobby included birth control in their employee health plans with no issue whatsoever until the moment Obamacare required it? The whole lot of ya, worse sore losers than most children.

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  • JagJuly 08, 2014 - 11:35 am

    Dump the aca and everyone can pay for their own.

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  • SalJuly 08, 2014 - 12:02 pm

    CD I agree, if left uninterrupted the Republicans would enforce forced marriage, forced slavery and subservience of women, forced child birth, lack of contraceptive options for women, lack of rights for gays and minorities, removal of social security, you name it.....they are Taliban waiting to happen. But the American public has two factions, those who follow the Repubtards and the intelligent, common sense ones who vote anti Republican. There is hope but we have to keep fighting.

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  • Larry WJuly 08, 2014 - 12:15 pm

    Sal. Try lithium. Are you still seeing men under your bed.

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  • JagJuly 08, 2014 - 5:28 pm

    Sal I hope you feel better Wednesday November 5th my friend.

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  • JimboJuly 08, 2014 - 6:03 pm

    Looking for tacky decals made by Chinese convicts to scrapbook your abortion clinic bombing? There is only one place for our Christian Family, Hobby Lobby.-Betty Bowers

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  • Larry WJuly 08, 2014 - 7:32 pm

    Jimbo. Take a look at the murders in Chicago alone before you talk about abortion bombings. When someone from the left bombs they get cushy jobs teaching like Bill Ayers.

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  • Mr. SmithJuly 08, 2014 - 8:10 pm

    And they get to be buddies with the current president.

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  • rlw895July 08, 2014 - 9:31 pm

    Still trying to make Obama a one-term president? That argument has been tried and found wanting. Let it go; you'll feel better.

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  • Mr. SmithJuly 08, 2014 - 9:36 pm

    Not at all. He should be impeached, but I have already stated that it is clear we are to bear this cross to the end of his term.

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  • SalJuly 08, 2014 - 10:35 pm

    The most damage done in the history of US was by Bush and Cheney.

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  • SalJuly 08, 2014 - 10:36 pm

    Bush and Cheney did the most supreme damage to US in its history.

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  • rlw895July 08, 2014 - 11:47 pm

    Mr.S: That's what I'm trying to tell you. Let if go, Indy, let it go.

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