I am stunningly disappointed in the Supreme Court.
Today’s Hobby Lobby decision was a victory for pro-life groups, yes. But is was also a stunning loss for judicial consistency.
If I, as a citizen, do not have the right to say war is immoral and not let my taxes go towards anything military, why does the legal fiction that is a corporation have that same equivalent right – the right to decide which part of their taxes they will pay, and which they will not?
Remember, earlier the court took care to decide that the insurance mandate was a form of a tax.
That’s the inconsistency part of it.
“The absence of such precedent is just what one would expect, for the exercise of religion is characteristic of natural persons, not artificial legal entities.” – Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Dissenting opinion.
Next is the idea that a corporation, a legal fiction can have religious freedom. I, a human, can have religious beliefs. I can think, reason, live, and die. A corporation can do none of those things. A for-profit corporation can have a mission statement, an expression of those that control it, but it is not a thing unto itself that can believe, so how can it have religious beliefs?
A Christian corporation can nor more exist, then can a Jewish truck or a Muslim hammer. (The question of a Buddhist table or chair remains up to the philosopher.)
The entire point of a corporation is to give it legal distance from the owners, so the owners cannot be held directly and financially responsible for many of the companies actions. The law has held that Bob Smith is a different entity from Bob’s Burgers. Unless, apparently, Bob has religious beliefs. Now Bob’s beliefs are the same as Bob’s Burgers.
If I apply for work at a business selling cars, or groceries, or any such thing, why do I need to care about my employer’s religious beliefs? Now I need to know. If I work for a grocer owned by a Jehovah Witness family, do I need to ask permission to have my blood transfusion covered?
(While this was called out by the court as something different, I am unsure that that would hold up under great scrutiny unless we are willing to admit that we want to treat one religion differently from another AND we like the idea of the government deciding which is valid.)
“Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be ‘perceived as favoring one religion over another,’ the very ‘risk the [Constitution’s] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.” – Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Dissenting opinion.
This is where it becomes incredibly tricky. Employers are mandated to give their employees a meal break. Is a closely-held Muslim owned business able to claim a religious exemption now during the fasting of Ramadan?
I am a huge, huge defender of personal liberty and rights. They key word there in my mind is personal. When you form a legal shell, and create a corporation to shield yourself from fiscal and legal responsibilities/liabilities that *has* to come with a corresponding and equivalent lessening of rights. A corporation has never been considered to have the same rights a a person until recently.
For those that are currently rejoicing in the decision, I would ask the following?
Should your boss be able to tell you that they do not want any of your pay check to go towards buying a gas guzzling SUV because that would be them (the corporation) underwriting an immoral activity in their view? (Destroying the planet.)
Should your boss be able to know your medical history (unless it is definably relevant to your actual work, such as allergies, ect.)
Would you be OK with getting paid by your boss in the form of gift cards, good only at health food stores, to make sure that they are not promoting an unhealthy lifestyle?
If you answered no, what is the difference? Hobby Lobby argued that they are paying for the birth control. I would instead argue that they are paying you, as part of your compensation, for your medical care package.
The fact that you may or may not choose to spend any of it on materials that they do not like but does not directly affect your job is not their business.
The ACA mandated (as a tax per the Supreme Court) that employers pay their employees X for their health care. This is materially no different then requiring that there is a minimum wage paid. Your employer has no ability or right to tell you how you can or cannot spend your wages. What made this materially different?