I've been pointing out that much of the discord and discontent in American politics is sown by a handful of billionaires doing everything in their power to buy the American government and distort the American legal system. Some of them, like Sheldon Adelson don't much care that you know what they're doing. Others, like the Koch brothers, value their privacy and want very badly to pull their puppet strings from behind the curtain.
It's with that in mind that we turn our attention to David and Barbara Green, owners of Hobby Lobby. Earlier this week they were presented as innocent victims, well-meaning and paternalistic business people who only want to do what's best for their employees and resent being forced to not dictate what forms of birth control their employees use.
It turns out that's not really the case at all. Far from being reluctantly dragged into court it turns out they've been financing attacks on the rights of others all over the country...all under the phony argument that MY religious rights insist that I force my practices on YOU. They are the largest funders of some organizations which are working very hard to make real that perverted view of "religious freedom."
Arizona legislation requiring transvaginal ultrasound before abortion, banning abortion coverage from the insurance used by government employees, defining marriage as being exclusively between one man and one woman...paid for by Hobby Lobby.
SB1062, the Arizona bill that would have allowed any business to discriminate against any person thought to be gay...paid for by Hobby Lobby.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a group seeking to "spread of the Gospel by transforming the legal system and advocating for religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family”...paid for by Hobby Lobby.
Global Warming denial, charter school promotion, free-market advocacy, and anti-abortion groups...paid for by Hobby Lobby.
The Greens have managed to stay outside the limelight until now, but their attempts to destroy public accommodations law through several avenues are stripping away that cloak of invisibility.
Even if Hobby Lobby loses its suit against the U.S. government, groups funded through the National Christian Charitable Foundation will continue to test the limits of the legal system’s interpretation of religious freedom. The Alliance Defending Freedom itself is the organization behind McCullen v. Coakley, a case its lawyers argued in front of the Supreme Court in January challenging the constitutionality of a Massachusetts law that creates a buffer zone around abortion clinics; the Alliance Defending Freedom lawyers argue that the law creates a “censorship zone” for antiabortion protesters.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, formerly known as the Alliance Defense Fund, is also attempting to take the case of Elane Photography v. Willock to the Supreme Court, making a similar argument about religious freedom. In 2006, New Mexico-based Elane Photography refused to photograph a same-sex ceremony for Vanessa Willock. Willock sued Elane Photography for discriminating against same-sex couples and New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in favor of Willock. The Becket Fund has written an amicus brief supporting Elane Photography.
Similar legislation to SB 1062 also appeared in at least 13 other states – South Dakota, Kansas, Idaho, Tennessee, Colorado, Maine, Mississippi, Ohio, Georgia, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Nevada and Utah. Though those efforts have died or appear unlikely to pass following the setback in Arizona, the range of states is a good indication of the national ambitions that the alliance has for its legislation.
While the network of organizations funded by a foundation heavily backed by Hobby Lobby’s executive and affiliate company are vocal about their support of the Green family and other companies seeking an expansive interpretation of the free exercise of religion, others are less enamored with the agenda promoted in Arizona and in the upcoming court cases.
Amiri told Salon, “These companies are trying to use their religion as a license to discriminate against others.”