Speed Reads


Watch John Oliver cogently pre-criticize the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling

Like most late-night TV hosts, John Oliver is on vacation this week. But on Sunday night's Last Week Tonight, Oliver had the foresight to criticize the Supreme Court's decision — handed down about 12 hours later — in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, in which a 5-4 court ruled that family-owned companies don't have to comply with a federal requirement to provide female employees health insurance that covers contraception.

Oliver is preemptively unhappy with the ruling, and his dissent is along the same line as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's. Hobby Lobby and co-plaintiff Conestoga Wood argued "that the sincerity of their beliefs should allow them a line-item veto over federal law," he said, "But government is not an à la carte option, where you can pick and choose based on your beliefs. Taxation is more of an all-you-can-eat salad bar: You don't get to show up and go, 'Look, I know it costs $10.99, but I'm only paying $7.50 because I have a moral objection to beets.'"

Oliver's short segment isn't all trenchant legal analysis. There's an amusing bit where he imagines which religions other companies, mostly food sellers, will choose to be. I can't reprint here why Taco Bell is presumably Hindu, but if you don't mind some NSFW language, watch below. Still, Oliver ends with some advice for the U.S. companies newly endowed with some more human rights: "If you really want to be treated like a person, corporations, then guess what: Paying for things you don't like is what it feels like to be one." --Peter Weber