• Corbis

    Reality Check

    Hobby Lobby Ignores The Pill’s Many Uses

    Often overlooked in the debate over the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision is the fact that oral contraceptives serve several purposes other than birth control.

    The Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling this week legitimizing the religious beliefs of “closely held companies” as an excuse to opt out of paying for employees’ contraception has reignited a uncharacteristic Republican push for over-the-counter birth control pills. Back in 2012, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal declared his support for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ recommendation that birth control pills should be sold without prescription at local drug stores. Ahead of the Hobby Lobby decision, Republican Rep. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who is running to unseat Democrat Mark Udall in the Senate, also voiced his support for the over-the-counter sale of oral contraceptives.

    It’s certainly an unexpected cause for members of the party that opposed the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act in the first place. And many reproductive rights activists reacted with more suspicion than celebration to Jindal’s OTC endorsement, wary that it would, in effect, mean charging women for a medication Obamacare said they could have for free. Not to mention that the narrow-minded focus on birth control pills would result in restricted access to the other types of birth control that many women use, such as IUDs and vaginal rings.

    Permalink
  • The Daily Beast

    DOMINO EFFECT

    Meet the Next 82 Hobby Lobbys

    From Notre Dame to manufacturers, dozens of companies were waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision so they could drop contraception coverage.

    Hobby Lobby is about to get a lot more company.

    Monday’s Supreme Court decision in favor of the company and Conestoga Wood of Pennsylvania for refusing to pay for contraception in health insurance affects far more than the 15,000 employees between them. The Supreme Court’s decision allows closely held companies (corporations with more than 50 percent of stock owned by five or fewer individuals) to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. There are at least 80 other companies fighting to be the next Hobby Lobby.

    Permalink
  • A man hails a taxi upon exiting the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington June 16, 2014. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

    VOTE!

    You Can Turn the Supreme Court Liberal

    There will be more Hobby Lobbies and Citizens United if Democrats don’t get a lock on the White House and pack the bench for a generation.

    We learned a lot about this Supreme Court on Monday. For one thing, its conservative majority thinks that a for-profit company selling plastic flowers is legally the same thing as a religious nonprofit doing charity work in accordance with its scriptural beliefs. But I really mean we’ve learned about the Court’s modus operandi, and it portends terrible things for the future unless that conservative majority is reduced to a minority. I say to despairing liberals today: It can be so reduced, and all of this judicial activism—all of this legislating from the bench—can be overturned.

    It’s clear now across a number of legal areas that the Court’s conservatives pick their spots very carefully. They’re playing the long game. They’re like a lion toying with a captured springbok. You’ve seen it on the Discovery channel: The lion captures the prey and toys with it for a while—minutes on TV, but in real life sometimes hours—before actually consummating the kill.

    Permalink
  • Win McNamee/Getty

    WOMEN’S RIGHTS

    SCOTUS Tears Down Abortion Buffer Zone

    The Supreme Court struck down a 35-foot buffer zone law but upheld the right to impose such protections, as long as they don’t infringe upon public spaces. And that’s a good thing, writes Sally Kohn.

    On December 30, 1994, Shannon Elizabeth Lowney was sitting at the front desk at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Brookline, Massachusetts where she worked, just doing her job, when a man named John C. Salvi entered the clinic, pulled a rifle from his bag and fatally shot Lowney in the neck.  Salvi then methodically riddled the rest of the room with bullets, wounding three other people in the clinic.

    After his shooting spree, Salvi left and went to Preterm Health Services, a clinic two miles away, killing receptionist Lee Ann Nichols and wounding two other staffers.

    Permalink
  • The Daily Beast

    Prevaricators

    Supreme Court Votes for the Right to Lie

    The Supreme Court’s Susan B. Anthony List ruling exposes the right’s pernicious habit of false-fact smear campaigns.

    In court cases, sometimes the ruling is just even though the facts are anything but. And so it is in the case of Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus.

    In a rare unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court held that the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion organization, has legal standing to sue regarding Ohio’s False Statement Law. The law makes it a criminal offense to knowingly or recklessly make false statements about a candidate—what ordinary people might call lying. The maximum penalty for making such lies in the context of an Ohio electoral campaign is a fine of $5,000 and six months in prison.

    Permalink
  • (L-R) Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan applaud before President Barack Obama's State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 12, 2013. (Charles Dharapak/AP)

    Nina Pillard is a top women’s-rights attorney.

    Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg has said her career as a women’s activist would “probably disqualify” her for confirmation to the bench if she were nominated for the Supreme Court today—and that theory might be proven true sometime soon. Obama has now nominated women’s-rights attorney Georgetown Law Professor Nina Pillard, and conservatives, according to ThinkProgress, are concerned Pillard’s career path will alter the makeup and effectiveness of the justices. Both of the women, Ginsburg and Pillard, have similar backgrounds as leaders of civil procedure, their work for the ACLU, and their litigation work for women. In order to be confirmed, ThinkProgress believes Pillard has to prove she should not be disqualified because of her fight for equality. The Senate Judiciary Committee, which currently holds a Democratic majority, will decide on the confirmation.  

    Permalink
  • Brooks Kraft/Corbis

    Could have impact on workplace harassment.

    Decisions on the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 stole the limelight in Supreme Court sessions—but their not-as-famous counterparts should get some attention as well. The court made a decision (5-4) in Vance v. Ball State University that could change how employees make harassment cases against their employers, according to The Atlantic. In this case, Maetta Vance was a dining-hall worker at Indiana's Ball State University. Her supervisor allegedly launched a campaign of “racial harassment and intimidation against her.” The Atlantic reports that SCOTUS has narrowed the “definition of the word ‘supervisor’” in the ruling. Vance’s supervisor Saundra Davis didn’t have the power to fire her, but could direct her on what to do in her job. Justice Samuel Alito wrote, in the majority opinion, that employers can be liable “only” when the person has the power of “hiring, firing, failing to promote, reassignment.” In other words, the precedent set by this ruling has huge impacts. Using this logic, if a man sexually harasses a woman of equal status, the woman may have problems winning the case. This is a ruling likely to disproportionately affect women—especially because more than 80 percent of sexual-harassment charges are filed by women, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

    Permalink
  • Mark Wilson/Getty

    TO BE DETERMINED

    Court to Hear Abortion Drugs Case?

    Supreme Court decision hinges on Oklahoma law restricting abortion pills.

    The Supreme Court has indicated that it might hear a case on medical abortion, which could affect how abortion-inducing drugs are regulated and prescribed. At issue is a voided 2011 Oklahoma law mandating that abortion pills be administered precisely as the FDA specified when it approved the drugs in 2000. Studies have since determined that one of the two drugs used in a medical abortion is effective at one third the previously recommended dose, and that it is safe to take the second drug at home instead of in a doctor’s office. An Oklahoma court struck down the law, saying that it “can serve no purpose other than to prevent women from obtaining abortions.” The state appealed to the Supreme Court, which has now asked for clarification about the scope of the law. “Depending on the answers, the Supreme Court could decide to drop the case ... or it could intervene in a contentious new battleground of the abortion wars,” The New York Times reports.

    Permalink
  • Susan Steinkamp / Corbis

    In free-speech case, SCOTUS lets state’s decision stand.

    Denver Episcopal church St. John’s in the Wilderness sued a group of anti-abortion protesters after their demonstration featured graphic images that it said disrupted services and disturbed young children. The case was brought to the United States Supreme Court, which denied taking it, effectively upholding the state’s ruling to block the protesters from waving the posters. Lawyers for the protesters claim this is counter to the court’s precedent of upholding a right to present offensive or obnoxious speech in public. The protesters waved posters with photos of aborted fetuses at the church and interrupted an Easter procession.

    Permalink
  • Jan Bateman

    Equality

    A Gay Warrior’s Win for Eternity

    Lt. Col. Linda Campbell’s late wife now will be buried in a National Cemetery. By Eleanor Clift.

    Retired Lt. Col. Linda Campbell hopes the Supreme Court gives adequate notice of when it will hand down its rulings on same-sex marriage so she can snag a seat on a plane in time to be back in Washington for the historic decision. “I just have to be there. This means everything to me,” she says. “It’s the whole focus of my life. I don’t have Nancy anymore, I just have our marriage.”

    After battling the U.S. military for almost a year, Campbell won a waiver for her deceased partner to be buried in a national cemetery, the first ever for a same-sex spouse, and she is looking to the Supreme Court to extend the right to others. She traveled to Washington, D.C. and stood in line in the cold to get just three minutes inside the court during last month’s oral arguments on marriage equality so she could lend her support—and demonstrate by her presence how much is at stake for people who for too long have had to settle for the watered-down version of marriage memorably dubbed “skim milk marriage” by Justice Ginsberg. 

    Permalink
  • Cliff Owen/AP

    Moving On Up

    Sotomayor's Rising Star

    Her memoir gives us something more compelling than a rags-to-riches story: a portrait of a genuinely interesting person. By Michael Tomasky.

    The person at the center of the rags-to-riches story always follows a certain script that is expected of her: She is humble, earnest, and more often than not completely humorless. What’s refreshing about reading Sonia Sotomayor’s new memoir My Beloved World and watching her on 60 Minutes last night was the degree to which she departs from that script.

    When a woman of her generation is called a “tough bitch” by a male law-firm colleague, the woman is supposed to take five kinds of predictable umbrage. Sotomayor acknowledged to CBS’s Scott Pelley that the colleague was “probably not” far off. However you feel about her politics, you have to like that.

    Permalink