Green Party: Hobby Lobby Ruling Should Spur Demand for Single-Payer Health Care

Green Party leaders and candidates strongly condemned the Supreme Court’s Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores ruling, and said that the decision should motivate more people to demand single-payer national health care and abolition of corporate “personhood.”

“The Supreme Court’s ruling lays bare the need to separate health insurance from employment status and exposes the absurdity of affording corporations the same constitutional rights as natural persons,” said Isa Infante, Green candidate for Governor of Tennessee (http://www.isainfante.org).

“The ruling grants business corporations the ‘religious freedom’ to impose the beliefs of owners on the lives of employees and tamper with their medical care on the basis of the owners’ beliefs. We hope that the anger provoked by the ruling leads people to join the Green Party’s call for Medicare For All and a constitutional amendment affirming that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights,” said Ms. Infante.

The Green Party of the United States supports making replacing the current for-profit health insurance system (maintained under the Affordable Care Act) and employer-based coverage with a single-payer program that establishes quality health care as a basic human right.

Greens called single-payer more urgently needed in the wake of the ACA’s failure to contain medical costs, projected to rise 6.8% in 2015 (“well in excess of the rate of inflation”; see http://pnhp.org/blog/2014/06/25/disturbing-pwc-report-on-employer-medical-cost-trends), and a Commonwealth Fund report published June 16 on the high cost and low quality of U.S. health care (http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/06/us-healthcare-most-expensive-and-worst-performing/372828/).

The Green Party also supports passage of an amendment rescinding the legal status of corporations as persons that possess the same rights and protections under the U.S. Constitution that humans enjoy (https://movetoamend.org).

Greens agreed with the widespread criticisms of the 5-4 Hobby Lobby ruling handed down on Monday, including Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s sharply worded dissenting opinion. The ruling denies women who don’t share their employers’ religious beliefs access to coverage under their health plan for contraception, interfering with the right of women to make medical decisions for themselves in consultation with their physicians and placing a financial hardship on many women.

The ruling also applies the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom to for-profit corporations that exist for nonreligious purposes and that employ and sell its wares to people regardless of their beliefs.

“Five men on the Supreme Court decided that, not only do corporations have constitutional rights, but corporate rights supersede the rights of women,” said Amy Balderrama, Green candidate for Tennessee State Senate, 23rd District (http://balderramaforsenate.org). “Furthermore, Hobby Lobby has profited from investments in companies that manufacture the same abortion and contraception products that Hobby Lobby denies women employees for religious reasons — a gross hypocrisy the five justices chose to overlook.”

(See “Hobby Lobby’s Hypocrisy: The Company’s Retirement Plan Invests in Contraception Manufacturers” by Molly Redden, Mother Jones, April 1, http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/04/hobby-lobby-retirement-plan-invested-emergency-contraception-and-abortion-drug-makers)

Although the ruling’s scope is limited, it establishes a dangerous precedent: as Justice Ginsburg noted in her dissent, it may allow corporations to evade nearly any law that they claim to be “incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs… 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); and vaccinations[?]… Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today’s decision.” (http://www2.bloomberglaw.com/public/desktop/document/Burwell_v_Hobby_Lobby_Stores_Inc_No_13354_and_13356_US_June_30_20#id1169492760194)

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