Happy Hour Roundup

June 30

• By now you’ve heard about the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case, in which they granted a corporation the right to excuse itself from the law requiring that health insurance plans to include coverage for contraception without cost-sharing. Kate McDonough says that even if you don’t work for a visibly Christian company, the ruling could well affect you:

To sum it up, five male justices ruled that thousands of female employees should rightfully be subjected to the whims of their employers. That women can be denied a benefit that they already pay for and is guaranteed by federal law. That contraception is not essential healthcare. That corporations can pray. That the corporate veil can be manipulated to suit the needs of the corporation. That bosses can cynically choose à la carte what laws they want to comply with and which laws they do not. Each specific finding opens a door to a new form of discrimination and unprecedented corporate power. If you think this ruling won’t affect you, you haven’t been paying attention. If you think these corporations are going to stop at birth control, you’re kidding yourself.

Her point that the employees already paid for the benefit is something that often gets overlooked. Health coverage is something you get paid in lieu of salary. You earn it with your labor; it isn’t a favor your employer does for you.

• Is your boss suing to be excused from the contraceptive requirement? If you work for American Pulverizer, the answer is yes. Mother Jones rounded up 71 companies that had lawsuits similar to Hobby Lobby’s.

• Amanda Marcotte puts the decision in the context of a larger war on contraception, and analyzes what the conservative side in that war says when they’re talking to each other.

• Adam Serwer and Irin Carmon trace how we got from Native Americans using peyote in religious rituals to this ruling.

• If you’re looking for a silver lining to the decision, Simon Maloy has some thoughts on how this relates to the GOP’s problems with women voters.

• Post columnist Harold Meyerson looks at the Illinois home-health-care workers who were at issue in the Harris v. Quinn ruling, and how their lives and working conditions have been improved by the union representation that the Supreme Court sought to undermine: “[S]ince the state allowed them to vote on whether to join a union, and since they voted to join the Service Employees International Union, these 28,000 workers have seen their pay doubled and have received, for the first time, health care coverage.”

• Jeffrey Toobin says that these cases are both prelude to something bigger:

In fact, the Court’s decisions in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Harris v. Quinn conform to an established pattern for the Roberts Court. It’s generally a two-step process: in confronting a politically charged issue, the court first decides a case in a “narrow” way, but then uses that decision as a precedent to move in a more dramatic, conservative direction in a subsequent case.

The clear precedent is the court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, which was presaged in a narrow decision four years earlier.

• James Risen has a blockbuster story in the New York Times about the security contractor Blackwater and what they did in Iraq:

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 Iraq. But 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.

The story contains a litany of misbehavior and criminal activity by Blackwater personnel; the story of the threat by Blackwater official Daniel Carroll to kill the investigator is particularly chilling. And we paid this company a billion dollars for its fine work in Iraq.

• John Boehner has formally informed President Obama that the House will not be voting on any immigration bills. Steve Benen looks at where the issue goes from here.

• Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois has announced that he will sign a bill establishing same-day voter registration in the state and extending hours for early voting. Imagine that: making it easier for people to vote.

• Noam Scheiber takes a long look at how Hillary Clinton won over liberals between 2008 and now.

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Paul Waldman | June 30