July 1, 2014

OPINION: SCOTUS decision makes Hobby Lobby's religion freest in the land


The win for corporations like Hobby Lobby in the contraceptive exemption case in the Supreme Court was actually sealed many years ago.

Well, four years, actually. By that time, the Affordable Care Act was only just receiving congressional approval, and the Republican Party was loading its guns, ready to attack from all angles. Yesterday, they shot down part of it, and for no reason other than in America, companies have more rights than you do.

When in their ruling on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010), the Supreme Court said that corporations were essentially people, too. They were people with the same Constitutional rights as any normal individual, and in this case it included political spending. 

While the spending had to be made public, the Supreme Court said limits on companies looking to pull their weight in a general election were unconstitutional. Political spending was free speech, which is strange. In that sense, someone with more money than you also has more freedom than you.

The problem is this precedent does not just apply to political spending now. If corporations are people, they have other Constitutional rights, as well.

With contraceptive exemptions, that right was freedom of religion. Now, this makes sense in dealing with businesses that are directly affiliated with churches. For example hospital or healthcare associations tied to a church, philanthropic organizations, missionary organizations, and so on. By definition these are companies where the people involved are bound to religious beliefs, because that's what the company was founded on.

Hobby Lobby sells arts and crafts. Unless I'm missing a commandment, I'm sure that has nothing to do with Jesus (aside from carpentry, but that was more of a side job.)

The problem with the president, CEO and other company leaders setting constitutionally protected policies based only on their personal beliefs is that policy affects hundreds, even thousands, of other people who may not share that same belief. What if Hobby Lobby employees do not abide to Christian beliefs?

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