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Shonda in the Supreme Court

The Hobby Lobby decision was bleak—and the outlook is worse still

Rachel Shukert
July 03, 2014
U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

As a person who is both a) a committed crafter and b) in possession of female reproductive organs that, as far as I know, are in reasonably good working order, I have followed the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case with interest. Five conservative justices—depressingly, but not surprisingly—ruled that certain corporations, due to their ostensible religious convictions, had the constitutional right to deny their mostly female employees insurance coverage for several types of birth control on account of how it might cause abortion, because nobody knows how all that junk inside the sinful daughters of Eve actually works, certainly not the doctors who testified that this was in fact emphatically not the case. (Who trusts doctors anyway? They’re just a bunch of Jews and Indian people now or whatever.)

Hobby Lobby is not only America’s foremost authority on all your scrapbooking needs, they also have a God-given (really Scalia-given, but if you ask him it’s pretty much the same thing) right to tell you exactly how Jesus would want to you deal with your polycystic ovary syndrome. Who would know better? Certainly not you, you wanton Jezebel.

I understand I’m sounding slightly hysterical here. (You’ll forgive me a slight case of the “traveling womb.” I’ll be checking myself into the asylum later.) The blogosphere’s glass-is-half-full people (otherwise known as apologists) are saying that this is a “narrow” ruling, applying only to this case, only to a few meager forms of birth control, and supposedly only to closely-held private corporations whose values are somehow more sacrosanct that those worldly enough to subscribe to sinful notions of shareholders. (Shareholders, apparently, are a great secularizing force.)

This optimism was not shared by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the author of the minority’s scathing dissent and, to my mind, one of the greatest Jewish heroines since Queen Freaking Esther. As usual, her skepticism has been borne out: in light of the decision, a group of faith leaders is already urging President Obama to consider a religious exemption in forthcoming LGBT anti-discrimination legislation. Apparently, in this Supreme Court’s America, one man’s religious freedom is another man’s segregation.

Where will it end? Remember, there was once religious reasoning behind slavery, behind Jim Crow laws, behind those notorious classified ads for jobs that “No Hebrews Need Apply” for. We’re on a slippery slope back to the bad old days, I’m afraid. In the meantime, all we can do is hold our breath and shop at Michael’s.

Rachel Shukert is the author of the memoirs Have You No Shame? and Everything Is Going To Be Great,and the novel Starstruck. She is the creator of the Netflix show The Baby-Sitters Club, and a writer on such series as GLOW and Supergirl. Her Twitter feed is @rachelshukert.