Stores Can Be Anti-Abortion Christians, Supreme Court Rules
Today the Supreme Court’s session went out with a bang as it settled two cases on identical 5–4 partisan lines. The decision in Harris v. Quinn hurt public employees’ unions by refusing to let them automatically deduct dues from wages, and the ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. allowed some companies to avoid paying for their workers’ birth control.
It’s the second one that everyone is shouting about today, and for good reason. To recap: Hobby Lobby is a chain of craft stores with 13,000 employees, 572 outlets, and billions in annual revenue. It’s run by the Green family, who aren’t exactly shy about their Christianity: According to the company’s website, Hobby Lobby is committed to “Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles.” After the Affordable Care Act (ACA, a.k.a. ObamaCare) passed, a federal agency ruled that employers were going to have to provide health-insurance plans that offered coverage for a range of birth-control options. A lot of these methods the Greens, like many other devout Christians, have no problems with, but they are super, super upset by techniques that, to quote the Supreme Court’s decision, prevent “an already fertilized egg from developing any further by inhibiting its attachment to the uterus.” (These include Plan B and IUDs, which they think of as being equivalent to abortion.)
Now, a lot of people might find the belief that stopping a man’s sperm from meeting a lady’s egg is fine but stopping a fertilized egg from sticking to the uterus is AWFUL MURDER AND MUST BE STOPPED: a bizarre bit of hair-splitting. Those people might also note, as some have, that the owners of Hobby Lobby aren’t using these devices themselves, and they aren’t even paying for them directly—they’re paying for insurance plans that allow some women to get these horrible, no-good, very bad birth-control options. But the grounds on which the Greens challenged the ACA don’t require them to prove that their beliefs are correct; it’s enough that they feel that paying for certain kinds of plans is a sinful act. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (which was passed in 1993 with Democratic support, for what that’s worth) says that laws can’t “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless there’s a “compelling governmental interest” at stake and the law represents “the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.. Since corporations count as people (yeah, I know, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯), Hobby Lobby could claim with a straight face that its rights were being violated by the ACA, and the five more conservative justices could with a straight face concur. So presto change-o, the court has decided that companies that really, really want to deny certain types of health coverage to people can totally do that.
Meet Sean Pablo
Of the colorful cast of new faces in Supreme’s first full-length video, 16-year-old Sean Pablo Murphy was the most polarizing. I decided to call the young Sean Pablo and ask him what’s up with his new Converse commercial, what it’s like having Jason Dill as a boss, and how he lost his virginity.
"This place is just so inundated with corruption—it’s steeped in corruption like a teabag. There was a Roman emperor—Caligula—who appointed his horse to the senate. At this point, the system has gotten so bad that if the Koch brothers appointed their horse to the Senate, it wouldn’t even make a difference. That’s where we are."
—Florida Representative Alan Grayson talks to VICE about the Supreme Court’s latest decision to turn America into an oligarchy
I Tried to Sell Cybergoth and Steampunk Gear to ‘Wavey’ Streetwear Kids
In Britain today, subculture is largely a thing of the past. The vast majority of young people just don’t seem interested in seeking out New Rock boots or Moschino-print trousers any more. Now, they just seem to sling on whatever they can find in the high street. They’re less likely to buy a shirt because it says something about who they think they are as a person than they are because it keeps them warm. In a way, you can understand this—being young’s tough enough without people spitting on you because you’ve developed a teenage obsession with The Crow. But by and large it’s a sad fact that comfort has replaced controversy as the order of the day, shopping centers filled with young people happily wandering around, taking selfies, and buying each other muffins and shit from the Disney store, like a bunch of fucking Americans.
Perhaps it’s because KoЯn went dubstep, perhaps it’s because rappers started wearing tight red jeans and glasses without lenses, perhaps it’s because Camden Lock is now just a massive Starbucks and a few stalls selling “Keep Calm” hoodies. Whatever the reasons, youth culture is now undeniably a lot fluffier and nicer than it was in previous generations.
But walk down any high street in any town with a population greater than 10,000 and there is one subculture still kicking against this Hollister-led style pogrom: streetwear culture. Not the one that involves 30-year-old blokes in Bape going to see DJ Vadim at KOKO, but the one that fetishises Snapbacks, bucket hats, North Face, King Krule, post-dubstep, knockout weed and very expensive shoes. The OFWGKTA influenced, Supreme-loving, Palace-worshipping marriage of American skate fashion and British rudeboy attitude. Which, oddly, are two things most people in their mid-twenties could probably never imagine coming together, having spent their teenage years watching skaters and rudeboys attack each other at bus stops.
Dread Judges – It’s Totally Not Cool That Nine Robed Elders Run America
American politics is a lot like baseball in that basically nothing happens for long, long stretches of time. There are occasional flurries of action, however, when the Supreme Court announces decisions on the major cases that have been brought before it. In the past couple of weeks, the court has ruled, among other things, that “naturally occurring” human genes can’t be patented; that the federal government has to recognize same-sex marriages, though states don’t necessarily have to allow gays to marry; that refusing to answer questions from the cops can get you in trouble; that the University of Texas needs to reconsider its affirmative-action policies; and that the section of the Voting Rights Act that mandates some states to get permission from the federal government before changing their voting laws is outdated. All of those are potentially far-reaching decisions, and they were made by a panel of unelected judges who have their jobs for life. You can call the US a democracy if you like, but really, most of the important policy choices are made by a council of elders.
The vague idea most of us have about the Supreme Court is that it exists to determine whether laws are constitutional or not. In the words of Chief Justice John Roberts during his nomination hearings, a judge’s job is to “call balls and strikes.” The assumption is that the Constitution has a clear meaning and that applying that meaning to individual statues is just a matter of thinking and studying really, really hard.