Under Analysis: What the Hobby Lobby decision and carburetors have in common

By Lisa Henderson-Newlin

Summer is my favorite season of the year.  It would seem this is counter-intuitive as I prefer to hide my body in as many layers as possible.

Nonetheless, I pine all year for these few months of heat, and not just because I can get away with not wearing makeup by arguing I “sweated it off.”

Not only do I love summer for the pools and picnics (and potato salad), but I also love it for an unconventional reason as well:  Supreme Court decisions. 

I know, I know.  Nerd alert. I can’t help it. I never proclaimed to be hip, and the fact that I use the word “hip” demonstrates I’m not cool at all.

It seems the most controversial decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court come out in the summer months. 

I’m sure many Americans aren’t in tune with the schedule of the highest court in the land, but many Americans think “American Idol” and “Shark Tank” are enjoyable entertainment, so I’m not entirely surprised.

However, this summer Burwell v. Hobby Lobby was issued, bringing much attention to the well-known craft store, and not just because their prices on yarn can’t be beat. 

Rather, it was their religious objection to providing pills like Plan B to employees that brought it to the steps of the highest court of the land. Unless you’re living in a reality TV stupor, you’re aware of the case and the impact it’s had on discussions nationwide.

The day the decision was released I found all of my social media outlets abuzz with discussions about it. It was especially noticeable to me, as most of my feeds are just pictures of puppies and articles about how to clean your house without lifting a finger.

I was surprised to see the conversations on social media were quite heated at times. I wasn’t expecting that since I didn’t see debates or arguments about the 74 other decisions SCOTUS issued this term. 

Why all the interest? Because people love crafting? Because Pinterest makes everyone think they can easily make a bird feeder out of an old t-shirt, three pieces of foil, two used batteries and a roll of twine?

Probably not. I suspect part of the reason is because people genuinely care about the issues.  However, based upon my observations on the internet around the time of the decision, I think the better explanation is that people just like to argue.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to argue, which is why I get paid to do it.  But, I don’t argue just for the sake of arguing (except when it comes to my husband). 

When I do make an argument, I ensure I’m educated about my position. That wasn’t my experience with the arguments I observed surrounding this decision. 

Granted, my exposure isn’t indicative of everyone, but I think it’s a good indicator.

I read pieces on-line where people argued this case would lead to various other situations … situations that were specifically addressed in the decision. Many of the posed arguments and fears were specifically addressed in plain terms in the decision and needed no law degree to understand.  It was clear that those posing many of these possibilities simply didn’t read the case, nor did they read an in-depth summary about it.

Granted, this decision was lengthy and there may have been unfamiliar jargon in it, but reading it would at least dispel some of the concerns that were so widely voiced after the decision.

I was also surprised that not a single friend of mine asked me to elaborate or explain the issues. Is it a testament to their lack of confidence in my legal abilities?  Probably, but I also think it’s because people jumped on either side’s bandwagon, not caring if the bandwagon was headed anywhere (or if it was stocked with beer).

I guess what I’m saying is this: in these times, it seems people would rather shoot from the hip when arguing than take time to educate themselves about the issues first.  (They should also make sure they have a properly licensed gun before making that shot from the hip.)

I’m not sure if our society has become lazy or arrogant, or a combination of both. 

Either way, educating oneself about the issues before attacking each other is always a good rule of thumb. 

If you don’t know what you’re talking about, don’t enter into a heated discussion about it.

There’s a reason I take my car to a mechanic, and why I don’t argue with him about whether I need a new carburetor, although I would certainly haggle with him about

Either way, if I wanted to argue with him, I would at least Google it to find out what the heck a carburetor is and what it does first.
Under Analysis is a nationally syndicated column of The Levison Group.  Lisa Henderson-Newlin is a shareholder of the law firm McAnany Van Cleave and Phillips.  She’s a contributing writer at NickMom.com and writes a humor website, LisaNewlin.com. Contact Lisa at lhenderson@mvplaw.com or contact Under Analysis by email at comments@levisongroup.com.
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