Legal expert analyzes Supreme Court decision regarding corporations, contraception coverage
THE SANTA CLARA
October 27, 2014
Leslie Griffin, a law professor from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, spoke to a full audience at Santa Clara about the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision and how it limited both women’s rights and religious freedom.
“We’ve got to get in the mindset of having religion be less of an influence in our laws,” Griffin said.
Griffin was invited to speak at Thursday’s installment of The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics’ Ethics at Noon Series about the United States Supreme Court case granting corporations the right to refuse to cover contraceptives under employees’ insurance plans if it goes against their religious beliefs.
According to David DeCosse, director of the campus ethics programs, Griffin was invited because of her expertise in the fields relevant to the case: law, ethics, religion and gender studies.
After beginning her presentation with an overview of the history of religion and the law, Griffin opened up the floor for questions. Students and faculty asked about the repercussions of this case, especially in terms of women’s rights and affordable health care.
One audience member brought up the fact that women would be required to cover the full cost of their birth control prescriptions if their employers are not required cover it. According to Griffin, it can cost a minimum wage worker up to a week’s worth of pay to cover birth control costs. A student also asked if corporations would insure birth control for women who need to use birth control for medical reasons other than just as a contraceptive.
“That’s the problem with (religious) exemptions,” Griffin said. “You become a law unto yourself.”
According to Griffin, corporations are allowed to claim that their religious beliefs and affiliations are valid reasons not to provide certain benefits for women, regardless of issues such as cost or health concerns.
While many questions centered around how Hobby Lobby effects on women’s rights, Griffin claimed that the decision was not a holistic win for religious rights advocates either since religious minorities tend not to receive the same exemptions as majorities.
“It’s not a victory for religious freedom because only some religions get protection,” Griffin said in an email.
According to DeCosse, Hobby Lobby and its attempt to balance the rights of corporations and individuals should be discussed on campus.
“I think the religion and contraception issues are of great interest to the (Santa Clara) community, (who) as a university community should examine these crucial topics in a spirit of open inquiry,” said DeCosse in an email.
Contact Vishakha Joshi at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4849.