Hobby Lobby Goes to Court: Why You Should be Scared

A headline like "Hobby Lobby goes to court" may sound like Holly Hobbie’s adventure on take your daughter to work day, but don’t let the innocuous phrase fool you: this is a serious case with very possible detrimental effects.

For those of you who don’t know, Hobby Lobby—the Michael’s-like wet dream of Pinterest enthusiasts everywhere—is preparing to stand before the Supreme Court this Tuesday to defend (what they perceive to be) their right to deny birth control to their female employees. Under the Affordable Care Act women are entitled to receive access as part of their health benefit package. Oh and surprise surprise! Hobby Lobby is run by Evangelical Christians. They believe that providing this option to their female employees infringes their religious freedom. HA! We’ll see about that—right?

First of all, Hobby Lobby is damn good to their employees (at least, those lacking ovaries). This Oklahoma City based business currently employs 15,000 full time employees at their 600 craft stores across the nation. So, that’s approximately 25 full-time workers per store—not too shabby. Though the federal minimum wage is $7.25, Hobby Lobby full-time employees earn almost double that. To compare, full-time Walmart employees earn $8.81 per hour and work just 34 hours a week. Not only that, but full-time employees have good medical and dental benefits as well as a decent retirement savings plan. New employees have the possibility of mobility to earn these rad benefits. Also awesome—they close at 8 pm every night and are completely closed on Sunday. If you’ve ever worked in retail, you KNOW this is a big deal.

So, you’re dead wrong if you think people will quit in protest and sacrifice all that security.

Hobby Lobby is (reportedly) planning to use the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act to back up their claim. Now, the point of this act was to prevent the government from “burdening” someone’s exercise and expression of personal religion. In this case, Hobby Lobby argues that their Evangelical roots are burdened by the controversial act. Now, if this were Walmart—the epitome of evil corporations—it would be easy to call them cheapo-s. Clearly, Hobby Lobby isn’t in the same category.

Nervous yet? Just wait. Hobby Lobby is massive. At the moment, they rank #135 out of America’s largest companies (this means that it’s slightly bigger than Petco, but just smaller than Hallmark). That’s a lot of influence. At the moment, Hobby Lobby’s net worth is a cool $5.04 billion. Do we even need to tell you that money talks?

Given this influence, we’re in a reactionary world of hell if they win. At the moment, the Affordable Healthcare Act allows non-profit organizations (like charities or Christian affiliated hospitals) to skirt the whole “please give b*tches their anti-baby meds.” Hobby Lobby is arguing that for-profit corporations should be allowed the same.

This is frightening for
1. Women’s rights
2. The continuing corporate vs. individual battle

To put it bluntly, we’re f*cking screwed if they win. We all know that birth control is so much more than a promiscuity-fueled, free-for-all pill. Given the influence, we predict that a Supreme Court win would lead to a further weakened argument in favor of women’s health care. Penny-pinching CEOs could use the case as justification for cutting corners in their benefit packages. Big corporations have a reputation for acting like bullies and getting away relatively scot-free (you remember a little company called Enron, right?). If Hobby Lobby wins, it is not a religious win: it is a loss for private citizens under the heavy corporate fist.

In short, a Hobby Lobby win would strengthen corporate power. In this case it hurts women more than others, but the ripples of a decision like this are sure to shake up everyone nationwide.

Image: hashtag truth. Courtesy of DonkeyHotey, Flickr

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