Supreme Court Decisions 2014

8 Other Laws That Could Be Ignored Now That Christians Get To Pick And Choose

STONING
STONING |SuperStock via Getty Images

Just sayin’…

The Huffington Post

The owners of a chain of stores called Hobby Lobby don’t like Obamacare. In particular, they really don’t like the part that requires insurance companies to cover contraceptives. Normally, people who don’t like a law petition the government to change that law. That’s how a nation of laws works.

But these men are Christians. The Supreme Court ruled Monday that Christian business owners are special. Their deeply held religious belief that some particular form of contraception is immoral carries more weight than the force of law, five conservative Christian justices ruled. The court — in a fairly bald admission that its ruling is incoherent — added that no general amnesty from other laws should be assumed to be the result of its ruling and that its reasoning was strictly limited to women’s contraception. Such a limitation raises legitimate questions about the rather perverted and obsessive minds of the five men who made the ruling, but it also carries little legal weight. Precedent is precedent, whether the precedent-setters say so or not.

As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wondered aloud in her dissent, “Would the exemption … extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus)?”

As long as we’re doing a la carte law-abiding, here are a few additional ones that could become optional to certain people with deeply held beliefs.

NUDITY LAWS
Entire colonies of people are dedicated to the belief that being compelled to wear clothes is wrong. Others don’t believe they should be compelled to make love only indoors. Don’t wanna see this on your Saturday stroll? Hey, freedom isn’t free.

public nudity

TAXES
Most religions profess a deep affinity for peace (while drenching history in blood in the name of religion, but whatever). Why should religious pacifists be compelled to pay taxes that subsidize war? Why should Randians, believers in Atlas Shrugged, the bible for dorm-room free-market evangelists, be forced to support the evil that is government?

paying taxes

LSD
There isn’t much more religious of an experience than talking directly with God. Hell, Huston Smith included a section on acid in his definitive book The World’s Religions. While we’re at it, all drug laws rub up against religious practice. Sorry officer, this is our church.

lsd

GROWING HEMP
If you’ve ever talked to a hemp evangelist, you know belief in the crop borders on the religious.

growing hemp

STONING
The Bible is packed with tales of impure women meeting a just end under a pile of stones. Today, in certain countries, they’re known as honor killings. Will the court make an exception to murder for the deeply religious?

stoning

GENITAL MUTILATION
Female circumcision — more commonly and accurately known as genital mutilation — is central to the practice of some religions, according to some people who have strong beliefs. What is a democracy to tell people otherwise? In fact, the same could go for domestic violence, polygamy and whatever else.

scared girls mutilation

PASTEURIZED MILK
For some Amish folk, following a strict religious interpretation of “Do unto others what you would have others do unto you” means selling raw, unpasteurized milk, a practice banned under U.S. law for its potential to carry dangerous bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli and listeria.

cows

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
To hell with the Violence Against Women Act, when the Quran authorizes you to strike a disobedient wife, as illustrated in Chapter 4, Verse 34. And we don’t have to limit the freedom to Muslim men. As Deuteronomy 25:11-12 testifies, “If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.”

domestic violence

Hobby Lobby Hypocrisy

Hobby Lobby’s Hypocrisy: The Company’s Retirement Plan Invests in Contraception Manufacturers

Hobby Lobby supporters pray to end abortion outside the US Supreme Court. Jay Mallin/ZUMA

Mother Jones

When Hobby Lobby filed its case against Obamacare’s contraception mandate, its retirement plan had more than $73 million invested in funds with stakes in contraception makers.

When Obamacare compelled businesses to include emergency contraception in employee health care plans, Hobby Lobby, a national chain of craft stores, fought the law all the way to the Supreme Court. The Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, the company’s owners argued, forced them to violate their religious beliefs. But while it was suing the government, Hobby Lobby spent millions of dollars on an employee retirement plan that invested in the manufacturers of the same contraceptive products the firm’s owners cite in their lawsuit.

Documents filed with the Department of Labor and dated December 2012—three months after the company’s owners filed their lawsuit—show that the Hobby Lobby 401(k) employee retirement plan held more than $73 million in mutual funds with investments in companies that produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs commonly used in abortions. Hobby Lobby makes large matching contributions to this company-sponsored 401(k).

Several of the mutual funds in Hobby Lobby’s retirement plan have stock holdings in companies that manufacture the specific drugs and devices that the Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, is fighting to keep out of Hobby Lobby’s health care policies: the emergency contraceptive pills Plan B and Ella, and copper and hormonal intrauterine devices.

These companies include Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, which makes Plan B and ParaGard, a copper IUD, and Actavis, which makes a generic version of Plan B and distributes Ella. Other stock holdings in the mutual funds selected by Hobby Lobby include Pfizer, the maker of Cytotec and Prostin E2, which are used to induce abortions; Bayer, which manufactures the hormonal IUDs Skyla and Mirena;  AstraZeneca, which has an Indian subsidiary that manufactures Prostodin, Cerviprime, and Partocin, three drugs commonly used in abortions; and Forest Laboratories, which makes Cervidil, a drug used to induce abortions. Several funds in the Hobby Lobby retirement plan also invested in Aetna and Humana, two health insurance companies that cover surgical abortions, abortion drugs, and emergency contraception in many of the health care policies they sell.

In a brief filed with the Supreme Court, the Greens object to covering Plan B, Ella, and IUDs because they claim that these products can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman’s uterus—a process the Greens consider abortion. But researchers reject the notion that emergency contraceptive pills prevent implantation the implantation of a fertilized egg. Instead, they work by delaying ovulation or making it harder for sperm to swim to the egg. The Green’s contention that the pills cause abortions is a central pillar of their argument for gutting the contraception mandate. Yet, for years, Hobby Lobby’s health insurance plans didcover Plan B and Ella. It was only in 2012, when the Greens considered filing a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act, that they dropped these drugs from the plan.

website Hobby Lobby set up to answer questions about the Supreme Court case states that its 401(k) plan comes with “a generous company match.” In 2012, Hobby Lobby contributed $3.8 million to its employee savings plans, which had 13,400 employee participants at the beginning of that year.

The information on Hobby Lobby’s 401(k) investments is included in the company’s 2013 annual disclosure to the Department of Labor. The records contain a list, dated December 31, 2012, of 24 funds that were included in its employer-sponsored retirement plan. MorningStar, an investment research firm, provided Mother Joneswith the names of the companies in nine of those funds as of December 31, 2012. Each fund’s portfolio consists of at least dozens if not hundreds of different holdings.

All nine funds—which have assets of $73 million, or three-quarters of the Hobby Lobby retirement plan’s total assets—contained holdings that clashed with the Greens’ stated religious principles.

Hobby Lobby and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the conservative group that provided Hobby Lobby with legal representation, did not respond to questions about these investments or whether Hobby Lobby has changed its retirement plan.

In their Supreme Court complaint, Hobby Lobby’s owners chronicle the many ways in which they avoid entanglements with objectionable companies. Hobby Lobby stores do not sell shot glasses, for example, and the Greens decline requests from beer distributors to back-haul beer on Hobby Lobby trucks.

Similar options exist for companies that want to practice what’s sometimes called faith-based investing. To avoid supporting companies that manufacture abortion drugs—or products such as alcohol or pornography—religious investors can turn to a cottage industry of mutual funds that screen out stocks that religious people might consider morally objectionable. The Timothy Plan and the Ave Maria Fund, for example, screen for companies that manufacture abortion drugs, support Planned Parenthood, or engage in embryonic stem cell research. Dan Hardt, a Kentucky financial planner who specializes in faith-based investing, says the performances of these funds are about the same as if they had not been screened. But Hobby Lobby’s managers either were not aware of these options or chose not to invest in them.

U.S. Politics

Blackwater’s Top Manager Threatened To Kill State Department Investigator

Blackwater's Top Manager Threatened To Kill State Department Investigator
no attribution

Crooks & Liars

According to newly released documents by The New York Times, Blackwater knocked down a probe by the State Department looking into their operations in Iraq by threatening to kill the investigator.

Color me not shocked that our mercenaries who we already knew were running amok in Iraq would resort to something like this. From The New York Times: Before Shooting in Iraq, a Warning on Blackwater:

WASHINGTON — Just weeks before Blackwater guards fatally shot 17 civilians at Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007, the State Department began investigating the security contractor’s operations in IraqBut the inquiry was abandoned after Blackwater’s top manager there issued a threat: “that he could kill” the government’s chief investigator and “no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq,” according to department reports.

American Embassy officials in Baghdad sided with Blackwater rather than the State Department investigators as a dispute over the probe escalated in August 2007, the previously undisclosed documents show. The officials told the investigators that they had disrupted the embassy’s relationship with the security contractor and ordered them to leave the country, according to the reports.

After returning to Washington, the chief investigator wrote a scathing report to State Department officials documenting misconduct by Blackwater employees and warning that lax oversight of the company, which had a contract worth more than $1 billion to protect American diplomats, had created “an environment full of liability and negligence.”

“The management structures in place to manage and monitor our contracts in Iraq have become subservient to the contractors themselves,” the investigator, Jean C. Richter, wrote in an Aug. 31, 2007, memo to State Department officials. “Blackwater contractors saw themselves as above the law,” he said, adding that the “hands off” management resulted in a situation in which “the contractors, instead of Department officials, are in command and in control.” Read on…

Immigration Reform

Obama, Blaming Congress, Says He’ll Go It Alone on Immigration

 NBC News

President Barack Obama said Monday that he is moving ahead with executive actions to address immigration after a sweeping comprehensive reform bill languished in the House for more than a year.

“I take executive action only when we have a serious problem, a serious issue and Congress chooses to do nothing,” he said. “And in this situation, the failure of House Republicans to pass a darn bill is bad for our security, it’s bad for our economy, and it’s bad for our future.”

Obama said that he is sending additional resources to the border to stem a growing tide of undocumented immigrants into the county and that he has directed his team to recommend further executive actions to slow deportations by the end of the summer.

The move was prompted after House Speaker John Boehner formally told the president last week that the House will not move on immigration legislation, a White House official said.

The president has been under intense pressure from immigration advocates to bypass Congress and address the high rate of deportations of undocumented immigrants. Last year, the Senate passed a sweeping immigration bill that would have offered a path to citizenship for many who are in the country illegally, but the GOP-led House refused to vote on the measure, saying that Obama could not be trusted to enforce the legislation’s border security rules.

Women's Rights

Democrats Promise To Do What The Supreme Court Won’t – Stand Up for Women’s Rights

 

 

house-dem-women
House Democrat Women

PoliticusUSA

As Republicans celebrate, congressional Democrats are fighting back with a statement that said in part, “If the Supreme Court isn’t willing to protect women’s rights, House Democrats will.”

In a statement, the chairman of the DCCC, Rep. Steve Israel said, “This decision by the Supreme Court is both disappointing and disturbing and further reinforces that we need to put a Democratic majority in control of Congress. Republicans in Congress have long made it clear that their ideological agendas come before a women’s right to access quality, affordable health care, and now the Supreme Court is only piling on even more. There is no question that this decision makes it harder for women across the country to access the care they need. Women’s health care decisions should be made by a woman and her doctor, not her boss. If the Supreme Court isn’t willing to protect women’s rights, House Democrats will.”

The five male conservative justices on the Supreme Court did significant damage to the future of the Republican Party today. The Koch fueled majority dumped gasoline all over the inferno that swallowed up Republicans in 2012. The Supreme Court isn’t going to protect women’s rights. The Republican Party is actively attempting to roll back women’s rights, so Democrats are standing alone when it comes to protecting the rights of women.

As my colleague Sarah Jones pointed out, “That noise you just heard was death rattle gasp of the GOP tent. The Republican Party now officially stands for taking access to birth control (life-saving) away from women, as well as regulating a woman’s eggs even before they are implanted. That’s a super interesting way of standing for “freedom”, but one that will not stand the test of time.”

Republicans and conservatives are celebrating a decision that is sowing the seeds of their own demise. This is similar to when Republicans celebrated the 2000 ruling that made George W. Bush president while being completely oblivious of the fact that the rise of Bush the younger marked the beginning of the Republican Party’s grand decline.

Women and men aren’t just angry. They are going to do more than come out to vote. Women, and the men who support their rights are taking over. Today’s Supreme Court ruling was a victory only in the sense that it made it clear to the country where Republicans stand on the rights of women. The platform that women are not equal citizens who don’t deserve equal rights is not a winning formula in a nation that is a majority female.

George Zimmerman · NBC News

Judge Dismisses Zimmerman Lawsuit Against NBC

George Zimmerman
George Zimmerman | no attribution

Good…

News One

Judge Debra Nelson said the malice standard was appropriate because Zimmerman became a public figure after he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford in February 2012, generating a national conversation about race and self-defense laws.

Zimmerman was acquitted last year for Martin’s shooting. He said he shot Martin in self-defense when the teenager attacked him. Martin was Black. Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.

Zimmerman “voluntarily injected his views into the public controversy surrounding race relations and public safety in Sanford and pursued a course of conduct that ultimately led to the death of Martin and the specific controversy surrounding it,” said Nelson, who presided over Zimmerman’s criminal trial last summer.

In his lawsuit, Zimmerman said NBC’s editing of a story on the shooting made it sound as if Zimmerman voluntarily told an operator that Martin was Black. He was actually responding to a dispatcher’s question about the Miami teen’s race. Zimmerman said the broadcasts made his seem like a racist and exposed him to public ridicule and threats. He was seeking damages for emotional distress and mental anguish.

Zimmerman also said he was defamed when an NBC reporter said he uttered a racial slur during the call with the dispatcher. Zimmerman denied using a slur and law enforcement analyses of the call have been unable to conclude what he said and so defamation can’t be proved on that case either, the judge said.

Zimmerman’s attorney, James Beasley, was in depositions for another case Monday and didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

NBC News spokeswoman Ali Zelenko said in a statement that the network is “gratified by the court’s dismissal of this lawsuit, which we have always believed to be without merit.”

Zimmerman still owes his defense attorneys $2.5 million. Any award he could have gotten from the lawsuit was expected to help him pay those bills.

A spokesman for Mark O’Mara, one of Zimmerman’s attorneys, didn’t have an immediate comment.

 

SCOTUS Decisions

Ginsburg Slams Decision of ‘Startling Breadth’ in Hobby Lobby Dissent

http://i.kinja-img.com//upload/s--7VeQsjGA--/18ervqzn1vu4ojpg.jpg
Jusice Ruth Bader Ginsberg | gawker-media/image

Mediaite

In a strong dissent on the so-called Hobby Lobby case Monday morning, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sharply disagreed with the deciding justices in language so harsh Justice Anthony Kennedy felt the need to respond in his own concurring opinion.

“In a decision of startling breadth, the Court holds that commercial enterprises, including corporations, along with partnerships and sole proprietorships, can opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs,” Ginsburg wrote.

“In the Court’s view, RFRA demands accommodation of a for-profit corporation’s religious beliefs no matter the impact that accommodation may have on third parties who do not share the corporation owners’ religious faith—in these cases, thousands of women employed by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga or dependents of persons those corporations employ.”

RELATED: Everything You Need to Know About the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court Case

Ginsburg excoriated the majority justices for ignoring the intent of the the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and extending its protections, for the first time, to for-profit entities, which she saw as existentially distinct to the point of rendering their owners’ potential religious beliefs irrelevant to their practice of business.

“The distinction between a community made up of believers in the same religion and one embracing persons of diverse beliefs, clear as it is, constantly escapes the Court’s attention,” she wrote. “One can only wonder why the Court shuts this key difference from sight.”

Kennedy, whose opinion was largely concerned with limiting the scope of the decision, disagreed with Ginsburg’s assessment of the majority’s ruling. He argued “that the Court’s opinion does not have the breadth and sweep ascribed to it by the respectful and powerful dissent,” and maintained that the Court disagreed over the interpretation of the RFRA, but not its intent.

Read the full dissent HERE.

U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: June 30, 2014

A Sunni insurgent guards a checkpoint in Iraq.
A Sunni insurgent guards a checkpoint in Iraq | (AP Photo, File)

The Week

Obama picks a new Veterans Affairs secretary, ISIS declares the creation of an Islamic state, and more

1. Obama taps former Procter & Gamble chief to run Veterans Affairs
President Obama on Monday will nominate former Procter & Gamble CEO Bob McDonald, a West Point graduate, to serve as the next secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, White House officials say. The department has faced months of criticism for allegedly covering up long waits for veterans seeking medical care. The nomination comes four weeks after former Army general Eric Shinseki resigned from the post over the scandal. An acting undersecretary and the VA general counsel have also quit. [The Washington Post]

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2. ISIS declares it has created a formal Islamic state
The Sunni extremist group fighting to take over Iraq and Syria declared Sunday that it was forming an Islamic state to restore the 7th-century Islamic caliphate. The group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), said its name would now be simply the Islamic State. It declared all other Islamist factions “invalid.” The move represented an open challenge to other affiliates of al Qaeda, which has long named restoring the caliphate as one of its main goals. [NBC News]

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3. Russia sends fighter planes to Iraq’s air force
Iraq said Sunday that Russia was contributing 12 new Russian warplanes to help fight Sunni extremist insurgents. The move was seen as an attempt to focus criticism on the U.S. for being too slow to supply the Iraqi army with American F-16 fighter jets and attack helicopters, both of which are now on the way. Congress had balked at selling Iraq Apache helicopter gunships over fears that the country’s Shiite-led government would use them to target political opponents. [The New York Times]

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4. North Korea prepares to indict two U.S. tourists
North Korea plans to charge American tourists Miller Matthew Todd and Jeffrey Edward Fowle with committing “hostile acts” against the country, Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency reported Monday. Fowle entered the county in April. Diplomatic sources said he was detained for leaving a Bible in his hotel room, although his family denied he was on a mission for his church. KCNA claimed Miller tore up his tourist visa upon arrival in April and asked for asylum. [CNN]

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5. By-standers injured in New Orleans gun battle
Nine people were injured in crossfire during a shootout in the heart of New Orleans’ famed, tourist-packed Bourbon Street on Sunday. Two of the victims were in critical condition. New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said the perpetrators were “two cowardly young men trying to hurt one another.” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu promised police would catch the gunmen. “Our No. 1 priority is to keep New Orleans safe,” he said. [The Times-Picayune]

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6. Mexico cries foul after Holland knocks it out of the World Cup
Holland advanced to the World Cup round of eight on Sunday with a last-minute penalty goal that gave it a 2-1 win over Mexico. The Mexican team had led for 40 minutes before the Dutch team tied the match with a spectacular goal by Wesley Sneijder with two minutes remaining in regulation time. Then, deep in overtime, Holland’s Arjen Robben went down in the penalty area. The referee said he was tripped, setting up the winning goal. Mexican players insisted Robben faked the fall and stole the game. [The Telegraph]

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7. Dozens trapped for hours in stalled SeaWorld ride
Forty-eight people were stranded 220 feet above ground for four hours on Sunday when a power outage stalled a ride at SeaWorld San Diego. City fire officials said 46 park visitors and two employees were riding in a revolving capsule on the Skytower when it suddenly stopped. Park officials said they never lost communication with the group, and that the employees on board passed out water and snacks. There were no injuries, but a 17-year-old boy was taken to a hospital for anxiety. [The Associated Press]

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8. Pharrell emerges as the BET Awards’ big winner
“Happy” singer Pharrell Williams continued his award-show winning streak on Sunday by winning Video of the Year and Best Male R&B/Pop Artist at the 2014 BET Awards on Sunday night. Beyonce, another big winner, took home the awards for Best Female R&B/Pop Artist and Best Collaboration, which she won with husband Jay Z for Drunk in Love. Host Chris Rock got good reviews for jokes at the expense of everyone from Chris Brown to embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. [Variety]

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9. Global warming threatens emperor penguins, report says
Antarctica’s 600,000-strong emperor penguin population will fall by at least a fifth by 2100 as global warming melts sea ice where the birds breed, according to a study published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change. The authors of the report urged governments to declare the penguins endangered to help protect them, even though some colonies are expected to grow through 2050. [Reuters]

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10. Heat stars opt out of contracts to help rebuild their team
Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade joined fellow Miami Heat star LeBron James in opting out of their contracts, meaning they will become free agents this week. This does not mean the Heat — who came up short this month in their bid for a third straight NBA Finals win — will be breaking up. Heat President Pat Riley will now try to re-sign Bosh and Wade with pay cuts that will allow the team to strengthen its roster with other free agents to build another championship team. [New York Daily News]

 

U.S. Politics

Bill Clinton: Where Was GOP Outrage About Killed Diplomats Before Benghazi?

Former President Bill Clinton |no attribution

Mediaite

During his wide-ranging interview on Meet the Press today, Bill Clinton briefly addressed Benghazi, which will undoubtedly be a hot button issue for Republicans against Hillary Clinton. Bill Clinton wondered why, when diplomats were killed during the Bush administration, Republicans didn’t say a word.

David Gregory brought up Benghazi and how it’s become the one issue Republicans seek to link to Clinton’s wife leading up to 2016. He noted that Republican criticism suggests that Benghazi wasn’t just mismanagement, but so egregious a scandal that it alone disqualifies Clinton to be president.

Clinton responded by calling Republicans hypocrites for one-sided outrage.

“When ten different instances occurred when President Bush was in office where American diplomatic personnel were killed around the world, how many outraged Repulbican members of Congress were there? Zero.”

Watch the video below, via NBC:

SCOTUS Decisions

Conservative Justices Weaponizing First Amendment…

Supreme Court.
Temple of First Amendment supremacy | Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Salon

Watch out, the Supreme Court’s conservatives are using the First Amendment as a weapon.

And yet, I have dutifully convinced myself, for all the reasons Larry gives, that the First Amendment means protecting the freedom of speech of perfect plaintiff Eleanor McCullen, the Boston-area anti-abortion protester who stresses that she is a short, plump grandmother who just wants to gently persuade women to reconsider as they head into an abortion clinic. To me, and to the unanimous court, it mattered that she was asking to stand on the sidewalk—a quintessential public space. Also important, as the court summarizes Roberts pointing out for the majority, a separate federal law “imposes criminal and civil sanctions for obstructing, intimidating, or interfering with persons obtaining or providing reproductive health services.” And if anti-abortion protesters now take the court’s decision as license to block clinic entrances, the police can crack down via local traffic and crowd-control laws. Last point: Massachusetts couldn’t point to a single prosecution or court order against clinic protesters since the 1990s (when, no question, clinic violence was a serious and even deadly problem in Boston).

But now I wonder if I’m being a sucker for First Amendment absolutism, for two reasons. The first is how the court handled what Massachusetts had to say about the lack of prosecutions and injunctions. The state said that it was the 35-foot buffer zone that was keeping the peace—in other words, the law the court just struck down was the key to (relative) harmony. For support, Massachusetts pointed to a 1992

Supreme Court ruling, Burson v. Freeman, which allowed a 100-foot buffer zone around a Tennessee polling place, where campaign workers couldn’t solicit or hand out materials. In that case, the court accepted the state’s argument that the buffer zone prevented voter intimidation and election fraud—without evidence that either was actually a problem. But now, in a case with a history of violence, “it is not enough for Massachusetts simply to say that other approaches have not worked,” the court says.

Is that because evidence of voter intimidation and election fraud is a lot harder to come by than evidence of clinic harassment, as Roberts claims? Or, more discomfiting, is it because the court views voters as more deserving of consideration than abortion seekers? I worry it’s the latter. Though it’s worth noting that the court’s four liberal-moderates joined Roberts, blocking Justice Antonin Scalia (along with Kennedy, Alito, and Thomas) from going much further.

Here’s my other, bigger concern, though: I worry that even if the court is right, or right enough, that the Massachusetts buffer zone went too far in limiting peaceful speech in a public place, this case is the spoonful of sugar in a big bottle of bad First Amendment medicine. Larry, you say that cases like this one “force us to balance competing constitutional values: free speech against the safety and autonomy of women.” But does the conservative majority of the Roberts court really give weight to any value when it’s competing with its self-serving, anti-regulatory conception of the First Amendment these days? Eric and I joked a few weeks ago that it’s time to write a screed called Against the First Amendment. Here’s a quick and dirty version.

All the Ways the Roberts Court Has Mangled the First Amendment

To protect wealthy donors: Striking down part of Congress’ effort at campaign finance reform in the name of the First Amendment, Justice Kennedy made the crazy-making claim in Citizens United that donations to PACs and super PACs that are nominally “independent” from candidates “do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” Please. Roberts doubled down on this lunacy in April, to strike another blow to campaign finance reform, in McCutcheonAs you said better than I, Dick, it’s pretty hard to believe that our smart, sophisticated chief justice truly believes that only quid pro quo corruption—essentially bribery—threatens the integrity of the political system enough to justify congressional intervention. Which is what Roberts says in McCutcheon. And why I think he was just laying the groundwork for killing campaign finance reform entirely—a move that will surely prove to benefit Republicans more than Democrats.

To protect corporations: Another Kennedy special: his majority opinion in the 2011 case Sorrell v. IMS Health Inc. At the time, like most journalists, I ignored Sorrell, but I’m repenting. The case started with a Vermont law that prevented drug companies from getting access to information about the prescriptions that doctors write patients. The idea was that pharma was using the prescription information for marketing—to better target doctors for sales pitches. Instead of treating this as a perfectly acceptable reason for regulation, especially given that traditionally, “commercial speech” gets less First Amendment deference, Kennedy treated the law as a form of discrimination against the drug companies. He calls handing over the prescription data to the marketers “a necessary cost of freedom.”

Seriously? As University of Tulsa law professor Tamara Piety writes, in an excellent article, this “is not just wrong, it is dangerously wrong.” Over email, Yale Law School Dean Robert Post writes that “the liberty values that were always implicit in First Amendment jurisprudence have now been transformed by conservative justices into a warrant for libertarian interventions, designed to overturn ordinary commercial regulations. They know that they are doing this. The irony here is that some conservatives initially opposed the extension of the First Amendment to commercial speech until they discovered in the 1990s that it could become an engine to destroy commercial regulations.”

To hurt unionsHarris v. Quinn, due to come down on Monday, is, as The Nationcalls it “arguably the most important labor law case the Court has considered in decades,” which has “labor very, very nervous.” For good reason. The case is about whether unions can collect dues from government workers whom they represent in collective bargaining, but who have chosen not to join. In 1977 the Supreme Court said unions could collect dues from such workers to prevent freeloading. At argument, according to Adam Liptak in the New York Times,

Justice Stephen Breyer said there was no good reason to overturn the balance struck in 1977. He said he feared that “the courts of the United States are going to fashion, using the First Amendment as their weapon, a new special labor law for government employees.’ Justice Kennedy, on the other hand, pressed hard on the harm that may be done to workers’ First Amendment rights in the collective bargaining process.

It is a bad sign for unions that Kennedy’s only apparent concern was the “employee who objects to the union’s position on fundamental political grounds.” Also bad,odds are that Alito is writing the majority opinion. Larry, you said you thought Alito might express sympathy for the women going into abortion clinics, because Alito wrote movingly about the father who sued after his son’s military funeral had been beset by hate-filled protesters, in his lone dissent from yet another the First-Amendment-Made-Us ruling. But here’s the thing about Justice Alito: He is awfully selective about whom he expresses feelings for, and they happen to be people who are a lot like him. Women who need abortions and labor organizers are not on that list.

To protect corporations some more: I could write one more doomsday paragraph about the upcoming Hobby Lobby decision, which will probably include lots of conservative pronouncements about why the right to religious freedom of privately owned companies (yes, companies) matters so much morethan the right of female employees to health care insurance that covers birth control. Here is Eric’s take. I’ll save mine for Monday. In the meantime, my closing thought comes from my email from Robert Post. “The conservatives are using the First Amendment as a weapon in every way they can,” he argues. They understand that this makes them seem righteous and principled. The protection of free speech, after all, is one of the most cherished American and bipartisan values. But it just cannot be our only value. That’s the wool the court is pulling over our eyes.