July 21, 2014 Leave a comment
Friend of mine posted this on FB last night. Just jaw-dropping. My, how the world has changed (and so much for the better).
Politics, parenting, science, education, and pretty much anything I find interesting
July 20, 2014 1 Comment
So, there’s been an interesting finding out there– families with daughters are more likely to suffer a divorce. The obvious conclusion was that something about having a daughter was a marital stressor leading to divorce. Not so fast, though. It’s much more complicated and much more interesting than that. From TNR;
Scientists have known since the 1970s that couples with firstborn daughters are slightly more likely to get divorced than couples with firstborn sons, and they’ve traditionally assumed that the blame lay with the baby girls themselves. But new research calls this decades-old finding into question, suggesting that a couple in an unhappy marriage is actually more likely to produce a daughter than a son…
It’s well-established that girls and women have lower mortality rates than men at every stage of life, from birth to death, and epidemiological evidence suggests they’re hardier before birth, too. Hamoudi and Nobles argue that female embryos may actually be more likely to survive the sub-optimal conditions in the womb of a woman stressed out by an unhappy marriage. “
So, rather than daughters being the cause of an unhappy marriage, rather, it is a symptom of an unhappy marriage. Finally, though, as interesting as this may be, we’re talking about a pretty small effect:
In any given eight-month period, the risk of divorce for a couple whose first-born child is male is about 1.5 to 2 percent; if the first-born is female, the risk climbs to 1.6 to 2.1 percent—the sex of the baby would be playing a role in about one in a thousand divorces.
July 20, 2014 2 Comments
1) My favorite use for “big data”? Baby name analysis. Here’s a cool analysis of trendy baby names, i.e., names that burned bright, but for a short period. Here’s to you Ashley, Linda, Jason, and Mark.
2) I did not know that almond milk has become a thing among hipsters. I am a regular soy milk drinker because I simply like it’s taste better than low-fat milk and it has a similar health profile. I’ve never used almond milk because, despite almonds being full of protein, almond milk is strangely devoid of it.
A single ounce (28 grams) of almonds—nutrition info here—contains six grams of protein (about an egg’s worth), along with three grams of fiber (a medium banana) and 12 grams of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (half an avocado). According to its label, an eight-ounce serving of Califia almond milk offers just one gram each of protein and fiber, and five grams of fat. A bottle of Califia delivers six eight-ounce servings, meaning that a handful of almonds contains as much protein as the mighty jug of this hot-selling beverage.
What this tells you is that the almond-milk industry is selling you a jug of filtered water clouded by a handful of ground almonds.
3) Very thorough look at what the research on bed-sharing with you baby does and does not tell us. I think a very telling point is that the research groups together those who do it haphazardly with those who do it on purpose and these are very different groups. All of our children slept in our bed some as infants because when you are breast feeding in the middle of the night, that’s just way easier.
4) Nice to see Weird Al getting so much love with his new videos. This post makes a case for “Smells like Nirvana” as his finest work. Nice post I’m pretty partial to Amish Paradise, myself:
5) I hate tipping. I’m a reasonable tipper, but I totally object to the concept of it for most all cases. And I am right to, writes Brandon Ambrosino in Vox. There was also a nice Freakonomics podcast last year on just how foolish the practice really is.
6) I love Yahoo Tech (formerly NYT) Technology writer David Pogue. It’s pretty amusing the silly question people write to him with, as he explains in this video. The best part is I found out about Let Me Google that for You. So need to use this site with my students.
7) Loved this video on how dark matter forms the invisible structure of the universe.
8) I kind of like how Vox has taken to debunking popular myths/misconceptions about social science and such. Here, they render the Myers-Briggs (i.e,. I’m an ESTJ) harmless. Not new, though– Gladwell wrote about these same problems a decade ago. In a similar vein, they nicely summarize the long-existing evidence that sugar does not make kids hyper.
9) How becoming a father changes your brain.
10) I think the idea of “bandwith poverty” is really important. Excellent NPR story on the matter. It is really cognitively demanding to be poor.
11) Want to learn better? Test, test, test (or quiz, quiz, quiz).
12) No, it will never become law, but I love the idea of this legislation that simply says that abortion clinics should simply be regulated in the same way as all other clinics that provide outpatient medical services.
13) 50 state-themed lego dioramas. Awesome.
14) The secret of effective motivation.
15) Yet more evidence that if you really want less teen pregnancy and less abortion, you should want more free/low-priced IUD’s.
July 19, 2014 1 Comment
The real problem for Republicans with women voters is that women are simply more liberal than men on most all the key role of government issues that define so much modern political debate. And it has been this way since at least the 1980’s. This is very well established ground within political science. In fact, Laurel and I were actually just working on studying “just” the gender gap before we somewhat accidentally studies across the impact of children, which has shaped our research ever since.
Earlier this week, I wrote about GOP Congresswoman Renee Ellmer’s inane comments about how pie charts are just too tough for women voters. A number of nice blog posts, etc., on the issue around, but I particularly enjoyed Amy Davidson’s. It also featured this excerpt from Ellmer’s that I had not previously noticed:
Ellmers’s comments reflect a certain Republican school of thought: women love the G.O.P; they just don’t realize it. (Their lack of self-awareness is such that, as a G.O.P. postmortem on the 2012 election noted, Obama’s margin with women was eleven per cent.) This, Ellmers said, is a matter of “tone”: “Women, by and large, agree with us on all of the issues. If you go through each issue, they agree. [emphasis mine]It’s how we are able to articulate ourselves—make sure that we’re getting the point across that we care, before we do anything else.”
This just could not be further from the truth! Where is Ellmers getting this misinformation? Fox news, I suppose. Regardless, how can their be any hope of Republican legislators effectively addressing the needs of women citizens if they are so sadly misinformed about women (on average, of course) really think! For a little context, here’s some charts from a Pew 2012 poll that looked at the gender gap on various key issues:
Yet, somehow Ellmers believes that women actually agree more with Republicans?! Also noteworthy (and I hope I’ve mentioned this before), the gap is definitely not about abortion (as clearly seen in the last chart).
I also enjoyed Amanda Marcotte’s take, to a degree:
Women are likelier than men to make minimum wage or less.Women are more likely to fall into one of the eligibility categories for Medicaid.Women still make lower wages because of gender discrimination. Women like having contraception coverage and a social safety net. If anything, making the impact of policy easier to understand would drive even more women away from Republicans and toward Democrats.
But, alas, she’s got to go and ruin it by making it also about abortion when the data just don’t support that.
Regardless, insofar as Ellmers’ take is indicative of that of Republican politicians, don’t expect to see this pronounced gender gap narrowing much any time soon.
July 19, 2014 2 Comments
Lots this week. More tomorrow. Here we go…
1) This security system tested at the World Cup seems pretty great. Would love to see it in airports soon.
2) Krugman’s nice column on the failure of Obamacare to fail.
3) This NYT piece on the utter mis-handling of a rape and a college is truly a must-read.
4) Heck, not just marijuana, the case for decriminalizing all legal drugs. This Vox piece presents a very even-handed analysis.
5) As if I could somehow ignore an article entitled “We are our Bacteria.”
6) NC Republicans have argued that cutting unemployment benefits has helped get more people working. The evidence (and Dean Baker) suggest otherwise.
7) Former Obama Budget Director Peter Orzag with a nice column on political polarization.
8) I’ve actually said some nice things about Politico here. Charles Pierce takes on an article that shows all that is wrong with them. Remind me never to get on Pierce’s bad side.
9) Fascinating NYT column on just how hard it is to learn a foreign language as an older adult. And how good it may be for your brain.
10) Sweden has totally embraced vouchers and school choice. The result? Declining student performance.
11) Loved this Mark Bittman column on the true cost of a hamburger. If there’s one concept from public policy, I wish more people understood, it’s externalities. And hamburgers are all about externalities.
12) I had the same thought as the person Sam McDougle upon seeing the trailer for Lucy. As if humans only use 10% of their brain. Sadly, aparently a lot of people still belief this total malarkey.
13) Apparently nitrous oxide, yes, laughing gas, is quite an effective anesthestic for child birth. It is widely used in Europe, yet hardly in America. In part, because of a turf battle between anestheloiogists and nurses.
14) Loved this Guardian column on Manuel Neuer’s goalkeeping, especially this part:
On a football pitch you are looking to gain any advantage you can. Like the opposition, you only have access to 11 players so you must use these players as efficiently as possible. If one of them has no role other than babysitting the net, then you’re already at a disadvantage.
Football is a lot like chess. You have the same number of pieces as your opponent, you face-off on the same playing surface and you both have the same aim. The great chess players know they need to get the most out of each of their pieces to win. This gives rise to the maxim: “The King is a fighting piece – use it.” …
By using your goalkeeper not just to protect your own goals but to actually participate in defending, building attacks and keeping the ball, you are utilising your 11th man. If your opposition are not doing this, you immediately have a man advantage.
July 16, 2014 Leave a comment
Quite honestly, probably so. There’s plenty of good research that women legislators are better at compromise and working with colleagues. And boy do we see the effects of a testosterone-fueled pissing match in NC’s current intra-party budget debate. Rob Christensen:
Having covered North Carolina legislatures since the 1970s, I have come to the conclusion that budget negotiations could be resolved much more quickly with one simple solution.
No one should be allowed to participate in the budget negotiations unless they are wearing makeup and heels. That is, men should be barred from budget negotiations and replaced by women.
I come to this conclusion after following the House-Senate budget negotiations last week in which the Senate walked out and in which there were threats made to stay until Christmas.
This is the sort of mau mauing/so’s-your-mama/I’m-prepared-to-wait-till-hell-freezes-over posturing that is the norm in budget negotiations in Raleigh, no matter whether Republicans or Democrats are in control. And it is relatively mild when compared to the government shutdown shenanigans of Washington.
Much of this is being fueled by testosterone – the natural male drive to prevail, to show off, to engage in competition, to heckle or even humiliate the opponent and to never back down. It is sometimes said that sports and politics are male substitutes for battle. It is no wonder that one of the fastest growing sales of drugs is testosterone creams…
But exasperating the policy differences are male egos and questions about political power and will. House Speaker Thom Tillis wants to make his points in his U.S. Senate bid. Gov. Pat McCrory wants to show that he is his own man. And Senate leader Phil Berger doesn’t want to give up control of the conservative revolution. Last year they were arguing over who was the baddest, toughest conservative hombre in town.This year, they are arguing over who can give teachers the biggest raise.
Women, of course, have egos. But they are much more likely to set aside their differences and sensibly work out a compromise – which is what will eventually happen anyway when everybody gets tired of the posturing.
Now, this is Christensten’s non-empirical impression, but the truth is nobody knows NC politics better and, like I said, it is actually backed up in the abstract by PS research. This article was also shared on FB by a female reporter I know who has commented time and time again abut just what a poisonous, frat-boy atmosphere, has existed in the legislature under both parties. Though, it should be noted that Republicans re-districted out a bunch of Democratic women and that Republican leadership is especially noteworthy for a paucity of prominent women (and not just in NC).
July 15, 2014 Leave a comment
Republican men have quite a history of saying really stupid things about women. Interesting that NC’s own Renee Ellmers should say something right up there with the dumbest of them. This is good stuff:
How are Republicans planning to fight the “war on women” narrative so rampant among Democrats and the left?
In a word, “messaging,” but it appears that’s as far as their strategy goes.
A group of conservative women, mostly members of the Republican Study Committee, met Friday to discuss issues facing women today and how the GOP can better explain how its policies could help…
Then came the bashing of both genders, courtesy of Ellmers.
“Men do tend to talk about things on a much higher level,” Ellmers said. “Many of my male colleagues, when they go to the House floor, you know, they’ve got some pie chart or graph behind them and they’re talking about trillions of dollars and how, you know, the debt is awful and, you know, we all agree with that.
First she’s saying that men (perhaps only Republican men) don’t know how to connect with people. Second, she’s saying people are too stupid to understand pie charts.
Ellmers then said that women mainly want more time in their lives (don’t men as well?) and the first example she gave was that women wanted “more time in the morning to get ready.”
As for connecting to women specifically, Ellmers drove it home with a line that, had there been liberals in the audience, would have made the news.
“We need our male colleagues to understand that if you can bring it down to a woman’s level [emphasis in original] and what everything that she is balancing in her life — that’s the way to go,” Ellmers said.
I’ll let that speak for itself. Okay, in fairness, Ellmers was arguing for more of personal connection rather than abstract information. But that’s good for all voters, not just women. Somehow, I think women can grasp pie charts just as well as men.
July 12, 2014 Leave a comment
Sure, I’m at the beach, but quick hits will not be denied! (In fact, it’s extra long as a direct result) There’s a ton, but I didn’t feel like breaking them up this week. Sorry. Enjoy…
1) Krugman on conservative delusions about inflation. It really is pretty amazing how these continue.
2) Challenges universities face from a professor’s point of view.
3) Loved this essay in the Atlantic on how all the mothers in animated movies are dead. Or at least essentially out of the picture. A notable exception– The Incredibles, one of the best animated films in the past decade (and a favorite of all the Greene kids and parents).
4) Nice Brenday Nyhan in the Upshot. When beliefs and facts collide, beliefs win. Though, not for me and my enlightened and scientifically-minded readers :-).
5) Apparently, this is the year of 42 year old women. It just so happens I’m married to one.
7) Three psychological findings I wish I’d known in high school. Indeed.
8) I so loved classic rock when I was a teenager. I thought I was much too cool for the rock of the times. Of course, now that’s “classic rock” too. 538 with a look by the numbers.
9) Nice Economist piece on the myth of the omnipotent presidency and the damage that the myth does.
10) Yahoo Tech presents 15 entertaining novelty twitter accounts. Some of these really are awesome.
11) Fascinating story on the last days of Diane Rehm’s husband and how we starved/dehydrated himself to death (he had advanced Parkinson’s).
12) Back before youtube there was jibjab. This land is your land was a revelation.
13) Okay, turns out that whole how to/not to praise children thing really is getting complicated. Still, I think it is clear that it is a good idea not to over-praise nor praise excessively for innate abilities.
14) Nice Salon piece on how NC”s new Republican-led voter disenfranchisement laws really are the most evil in the country.
15) I was fascinated by this Atlantic piece on how the “crossover” has taken over the new car market. I had no idea. Of course, my cars are from 1998 and 2000. Really interesting on the history of cars versus minivans versus SUV’s, etc.
16) When I first read about the Kentucky State Senator and the temperature on Mars, I figured he couldn’t really be that dumb. Turns out he’s not. But still pretty damn stupid. I’m sorry, Democratic state legislators just don’t come this dumb.
17) Pope Francis, radical environmentalist.
18) There was going to be a Seinfeld episodes about guns, but the cast nixed it when they were already rehearsing.
19) It is just too easy to be declared a suspicious person by the US Government. With all sorts of bad consequences.
20) How coffee fueled the Civil War. My sense is that stimulant drugs have fueled soldiers whenever and wherever they have been available.
21) You all know about my love for apples. Turns out, I’ve really got to get my wife to start eating more.
July 6, 2014 Leave a comment
1) I really wanted to give this its own post, as I so agree with Josh Levin here, but in truth, I’m just not going to get around to it. Short version: it is asinine to blame a soccer player for one particular mistake that, by happenstance leads to a goal, when literally dozens of similar mistakes happen thoughout a game that don’t lead to a goal.
If you get on me for that one play, Bradley is saying, then you have to blame me for every other little slip-up that could’ve led to a Portuguese goal. Sports punditry, though, is fueled by ex post facto logic: Identify the game’s most important play, and then work backward to deduce who screwed up in the seconds before it happened…
For journalists and commenters, harsh criticism of Bradley represents a willingness to offer the unvarnished truth, matter-of-fact observations that we all need to hear. In reality, the sports blame game does the exact opposite. It’s a quest for a conversation-stopping answer when there are no easy answers to be found.
2) So, no thing can travel faster than the speed of light. But the expansion of space itself can. Freaky! And nice visual explanation here:
3) That led me to this awesome webpage that explains the end of everything (i.e., the sun, the earth, the galaxy, the universe, etc.).
4) TNR’s Eric Garcia on how paid leave for new mothers and fathers is working great in California. Just like it does in the rest of the developed world– minus the other 49 US states.
5) You know I love me some This American Life. Interesting NYT story about how they are leaving their distributor to try and go it alone the public radio world. Of course, if anybody can, TAL can.
6) For some reason, made me think of last Sunday’s wonderful Doonesbury.
7) Great summary piece on how the NC GOP legislature has so quickly taken this state so far backward.
8) Loved this Onion headline that perfectly captured my mother’s experience most summers:
Mom Spends Beach Vacation Assuming All Household Duties In Closer Proximity To Ocean
9) After reading yet another piece about how sitting is slowly killing me, I decided to do something about it. I’m pretty sure the best evidence suggests that all you really need to do is make sure you get your muscles moving a few times an hour. I decided to install this little app on my desktop to have me get up every 20 minutes. So far I love it.
10) Great piece by a couple of law professors in Slate that really breaks down what is so wrong and so aggressive about the Hobby Lobby decision.
July 2, 2014 6 Comments
It’s not actually a hard concept at all, but so many on the right seem to propose easy access to contraception. Here’s the latest study:
What would happen if women at risk for unintended pregnancies received the birth control of their choice — especially the more effective kinds — at no cost?
The national abortion rate would plummet, according to a study conducted by researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology on Thursday.
The researchers enrolled 9,256 women from the St. Louis region into the Contraceptive Choice Project between August 2007 and September 2011. The women were aged 14 to 45, with an average age of 25, and many were poor and uninsured with low education. Nearly two-thirds had had an unintended pregnancy previously. Participants were either not using a reversible contraception method or willing to switch to a new one.
Researchers provided free, FDA-approved birth control to the women for three years. The women were given their choice of contraception, including oral birth control pills and long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods like implants and IUDs…
Over the course of the study, which lasted from 2008 to 2010, women experienced far fewer unintended pregnancies than expected: there were 4.4 to 7.5 abortions per 1,000 women in the study, after adjusting for age and race — much fewer than the national rate of 19.6 abortions per 1,000 women and lower also than the rate in the St. Louis area of 13.4 to 17 abortions per 1,000 women.
The effect of free contraception on the teen birth rate was remarkable: there were 6.3 births per 1,000 girls aged 15 to 19 in the study, compared with the national rate of 34.3 births per 1,000 teen girls…
Yet American women use LARC methods at far lower rates than in other countries. In large part, that’s because of cost: upfront costs to implant an IUD, which requires a doctor visit, can total $500 to $1,000, for example. Over a decade, however, birth control pills can cost just as much. American doctors also tend not to recommend long-acting birth control to women as often as they do the pill or patch, though IUDs and implants may be up to 20 times more effective.
Ugh! This is great that you can have such an impact through a public policy choice (that is, if you choose to fund LARC through public policy), but so frustrating that so many on the right are opposed. As I’ve said before, if you really want fewer abortions (and teen pregnancies, etc.) you should want an IUD in any woman who possibly wants one. Pro-life people should be fighting for that, not against it. So, what’s up? Honestly, I think the answer is explained to a considerable degree by Erik Erickson’s response to the Hobby Lobby decision:
My religion trumps your “right” to employer subsidized consequence free sex.
Yep. When you get right down to is, a huge amount of the opposition is simply based on medieval notions of female sexuality. It’s pathetic, but sadly, something that is causing more unwanted pregnancies (which are bad for mothers and babies) and more abortions.
July 2, 2014 1 Comment
1) A new post from Kevin Drum that explains that the decision really isn’t about abortion, but actually birth control:
That was then, this is now:
The Supreme Court on Tuesday confirmed that its decision a day earlier extending religious rights to closely held corporations applies broadly to the contraceptive coverage requirement in the new health care law, not just the handful of methods the justices considered in their ruling….Tuesday’s orders apply to companies owned by Catholics who oppose all contraception. Cases involving Colorado-based Hercules Industries Inc., Illinois-based Korte & Luitjohan Contractors Inc. and Indiana-based Grote Industries Inc. were awaiting action pending resolution of the Hobby Lobby case.
Nonetheless, the court has now ruled that a religious objection to contraceptives is indeed at the same level as a religious objection to abortion. In other words, just about anything Catholics consider a sinfor Catholics is justification for opting out of federal regulations. I wonder if the court plans to apply this to things that other religions consider sinful?
Uhhh, yeah. I suspect not. A coincidence that all five members of the majority are practicing Catholics? I think not.
Politically, this is good news for Democrats. There may be some confusion as to whether IUD’s etc. are actually abortifacients (they are not), but to allow a company to say all forms of birth control are immoral and fight for that as your political value? That’s a loser. Americans– Catholics just as much as anybody else when it comes to actual practice– love their birth control. Of course, the losers are women who need affordable, high quality birth control.
2) Five myths of the case debunked (I linked it about the abortifacient issue).
3) I love Yglesias for giving some pushback on the corporations are people angle. In some important ways, we really do need to treat corporations like people:
The basic functions of a corporation — including contracts and property ownership — would be useless unless corporations enjoyed basic constitutional protections. If corporations didn’t hold the same due process rights as human beings, the idea of firms holding property and entering into contracts would be worthless.
By the same token, the idea that corporations have a right to free speech is essential to preserving the values of the First Amendment. It’s imperative that not only do Fox News’ anchors have the right to criticize the Obama administration, but that Fox News as a corporate entity has that right. Otherwise, censors could effectively silence critics by heavily fining hostile broadcasters and publishers even while leaving the human critics unmolested. Similarly, NARAL Pro Choice America and the National Organization for Women are themselves corporations. It’s critical to the democratic process that they are able to criticize Supreme Court decisions, lobby congress, and otherwise act as constitutional persons.
4) That said, even if John Oliver isn’t quite 100% right on the law here, he’s dead right on the satire.
He also did a heck of a job as Vanity Smurf in Smurfs 2, which I saw yesterday (“hey, what the heck, that’s John Oliver”, I thought to myself).
5) And from the pure rant department, this is kinda awesome:
Your boss doesn’t get to dictate what you do with your paycheck, whether it’s buying groceries, donating it all to orphans, or splurging it on hookers and blow.
Your boss might take issue with you buying pork because he’s Jewish, donating it to orphans because she thinks they’re godless, or on the hookers and blow because that’s not very Christian of you. However, your bosses would be ridiculed for thinking they have the right to tail you to make sure you’re spending YOUR money in accordance with their faith, right? There’s not much difference here. Set aside that the insurance is not directly offered by Hobby Lobby, or that they could pay taxes/penalties instead of lawyers and legal fees by kicking everyone onto the exchange, thereby taking away their supposed moral conundrum. Spoiler alert: HEALTH BENEFITS ARE COMPENSATION FOR YOUR LABOR. Why would you think for one second that your boss gets to dictate what you do with your compensation?
6) And never hurts to mention that this asinine system of health insurance is an historical quick that makes no sense. And if it was up to Democrats, we would surely do away with it.
July 1, 2014 Leave a comment
Wow, if ever we need any proof that key Supreme Court decisions are entirely political, this is up there with Bush v. Gore. I won’t pretend that there is not politics in the dissent, but I sure find the legal reasoning in the dissent far more persuasive. Lots of good stuff on the matter, here’s some of my favorites.
1) Amy Davidson:
To start with, who else is off the hook, or will be? What other companies can ignore which other laws on what real or dreamed-up religious grounds? That is something the majority decision in Hobby Lobby leaves shockingly undefined. Ginsburg called it “a decision of startling breadth,” one that could allow for-profit corporations to “opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.” Alito, in his opinion, denies this; so does Anthony Kennedy, in a concurrence. But neither does so persuasively: their reassurance about the protections against what Ginsburg calls “the havoc the Court’s judgment can introduce” come down to, in Alito’s case, shrugs about how nothing alarming has shown up on the Court’s docket yet and, in Kennedy’s, the belief that everyone will be sensible about this.
Just because the majority opinion says their opinion is narrow, does not actually make it so. The logic/reasoning behind it is not narrow at all and undoubtedly opens up a pandora’s box of religious-based discrimination. Also this:
Nor is science much of a constraint. Hobby Lobby is really asserting two religious beliefs: that abortion is immoral and that the kinds of contraception it doesn’t want to pay for are, in fact, a form of abortion, even though the scientific evidence says they are not. The majority defers to both of these beliefs.
2) Jeffrey Toobin excellently lays out how the Roberts court has a history of making “narrow” decisions that later become a key precedent for much broader decisions:
The Hobby Lobby decision follows the same pattern. Again, Justice Alito’s opinion (for the same five-to-four majority) expressed its ruling in narrow terms. Alito asserted that the case concerned only a single “closely held” private company whose owners had religious objections to providing certain forms of birth control. According to the court, federal law required that those wishes be honored.
But, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out in her dissent, there is almost no limitation on the logic of the majority’s view. Almost any closely held companies—which make up a substantial chunk of the American economy—can now claim a religious orientation, and they can now seek to excuse themselves from all sorts of obligations, including honoring certain anti-discrimination laws. And after today’s “narrow” rulings, those cases will come.
There’s simply no reason to think Hobby Lobby will be the end of this.
3) Rick Hasen on when the Court shows deference to Congress:
Near the end of Justice Alito’s majority opinion in the Hobby Lobby case today, he writes that it is not the Court’s job to question the “wisdom” of Congress in using the compelling interest test in RFRA, but the Court applies that RFRA test strongly, and in a way which shows the Court apparently giving great deference to Congress’s judgment about how to balance the government’s interest in generally applicable laws with the accommodations of religious freedoms. It reminded me of Justice Scalia’s pleas in Windsor last term for deference to Congress on the need for the Defense of Marriage Act.
The Court has shown no such deference when it comes to the need for campaign finance regulation or to protect the voting rights of racial minorities and others. The Roberts Court has overturned or limited every campaign finance law it has examined (aside from disclosure laws). It has struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. How much deference did Congress get in those cases? None.
Well when is Congress wise and entitled to deference? When the Court agrees with Congress’s approach. Let’s call that “faux deference,” to go with the “faux-nanimity” of the rest of the term.
Exactly. Absurd on its face. The SC Justices question the wisdom of Congress all the time. But only overrules that “wisdom” when it personally degrees.
4) Kevin Drum is no legal scholar but makes a good case that it really is all about abortion:
Alito takes pains to make it clear that his opinion shouldn’t be considered precedent for anything except the narrowly specific issue at hand: whether contraceptives that some people consider abortifacients can be excluded from health plans.
I think it’s important to recognize what Alito is saying here. Basically, he’s making the case that abortion is unique as a religious issue. If you object to anything else on a religious basis, you’re probably out of luck. But if you object to abortion on religious grounds, you will be given every possible consideration. Even if your objection is only related to abortion in the most tenuous imaginable way—as it is here, where IUDs are considered to be abortifacients for highly idiosyncratic doctrinal reasons—it will be treated with the utmost deference.
This is not a ruling that upholds religious liberty. It is a ruling that specifically enshrines opposition to abortion as the most important religious liberty in America.
5) Emily Bazelon makes a good case that this really is about sex:
As the Institutes of Medicine spelled out in a report for the Department of Health and Human Services, preventing unwanted pregnancies is of undeniable benefit to women.
The majority’s refusal to recognize that fact, full stop, proves a point Linda Greenhouse made in the New York Times last fall: This case is about sex. Or more specifically, it’s a rear-guard action by the religious right to block the government from “putting its thumb on the scale in favor of birth control, of sex without consequences.” Read the article Linda points to by Helen Alvaré, a law professor and longtime adviser to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. Or read theseamazing quotes from some of the religious groups that swooped in on Hobby Lobby’s side. These people and ideas won today.
6) Of course, the fact that whether your IUD is covered or not (and it damn well should be– safe and effective contraception) is up to your employer just speaks to the absurdity of our employer-based health care system. Paul Waldman on the matter. And if you’ve got a few minutes to listen, Mike Pesca’s “spiel” on this (from his great new podcast, The Gist) is spot-on terrific satire.
7) And lastly, the 8 best lines from Ginsberg’s dissent.
8) I think most of these are quite good arguments. That said, Slate also has Eric Posner make the case that this case was rightly decided. I think he too easily looks over the gaping holes in Alito’s legal arguments, but he makes some good points and it’s worth considering the view from a far more reasoned conservative mind.