published Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Court right to protect faith in business practices

Kristin Hughs, right, announces to supporters the Supreme Court’s decision on the Hobby Lobby case in Washington on Monday. The Supreme Court says corporations can hold religious objections that allow them to opt out of the new health law requirement that they cover contraceptives for women.
Kristin Hughs, right, announces to supporters the Supreme Court’s decision on the Hobby Lobby case in Washington on Monday. The Supreme Court says corporations can hold religious objections that allow them to opt out of the new health law requirement that they cover contraceptives for women.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Given the narrowness of Monday's Supreme Court decision on Obamacare's contraception mandate, look for the words "closely held corporations" to be addressed in the near future in a court near you.

The 5-4 decision said closely held corporations such as the family-owned Hobby Lobby arts and crafts store and the Conestoga Wood Specialties company, in spite of being for-profit businesses, do not have to provide certain abortion-inducing contraceptives to their employees under the Affordable Care Act because to do so would violate their deeply held religious beliefs granted by the First Amendment and other laws.

The ruling thankfully affirms that family businesses may still make certain decisions about issues they believe to be injurious -- in this case, a decision that "substantially burdens the exercise of religion" -- without the threat of crippling fines. So don't expect Walmart or General Motors, for instance, to make -- or be granted relief in -- such a case.

But dissenting justices say the decision could allow other private businesses to challenge the law on religious reasons if they object to other services such as vaccinations, blood transfusions or medical devices derived from pigs. And the question of exactly what "closely held corporations" are will certainly be tested if the next plaintiff is not so plainly "closely held" as Hobby Lobby and Conestoga.

Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority in Burwell (formerly Sebelius) v. Hobby Lobby, said the contraception mandate not only violated the First Amendment but also the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which states the federal government can only force people to violate their religious beliefs "if the government has an extremely important reason" for doing so "and the government cannot accomplish its goal in any less restrictive way."

The distribution of birth control, much less abortifacients, should not be a function of the federal government in the first place, but the Affordable Care has put it there. But, even if the first part of the RFRA statement is conceded, there are other ways birth control drugs and devices can be distributed without burdening religious employers.

The decision was the first time the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a for-profit corporation that claimed its religious freedom allowed it to be exempt from a law.

But what, after all, are corporations made from except the people who formed them? Indeed, Alito said "a corporation is simply a form of organization used by human being to achieve desired ends. And protecting the free-exercise rights of corporations like Hobby Lobby, Conestoga and Mardel (Christian & Education Stores, which is owned by the Hobby Lobby family) protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control those companies."

In fact, the ruling had somewhat of a precedent in the 2010 Citizens United case in which the Court ruled that corporations have free speech rights and, in turn, can spend freely in federal elections.

While the details surrounding the implementing of this decision may show up in court again, the Supreme Court in the fall may very well take up arguments from nonprofit faith-based employers who believe exemptions and accommodations to the Affordable Care Act are not broad enough.

Despite the narrowness of the ruling, the decision was a broadside to the Obama administration, which counted on the same court that upheld the Affordable Care Act two years ago to back its continued unprecedented expansion of government. And, ironically, it used the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, introduced by liberal Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and signed into law by Democrat President Bill Clinton, to make the case.

So for now, and for the Green family of Hobby Lobby and the Hahn family of Conestoga, the decision affirms the importance of the depth of belief people of faith can have, a depth of belief that impacts every area of their lives. Such a faith for people is not just idly spoken words in a house of worship on one day of the week but a way of living that is pervasive in their family, their finances and, certainly, their work.

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ORRMEANSLIGHT said...

+++WE PREACH JESUS CHRIST CRUCIFIED+++

Yes, it seems we are learning ever so slowly as a society.

Malleus Deum

July 1, 2014 at 12:29 a.m.
Plato said...

Alito said "a corporation is simply a form of organization used by human being to achieve desired ends. And protecting the free-exercise rights of corporations like Hobby Lobby, Conestoga and Mardel (Christian & Education Stores, which is owned by the Hobby Lobby family) protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control those companies."

That opinion flys in the face of everything I ever studied about the Uniform Commercial Code.

A corporation under the law is a distinct, separate legal entity. It has been established as such to differentiate owners from the corporation. If that distinction did not exists than right now everyone that is a shareholder in General Motors would be going to court to defend themselves.

The direct impact of this decision on women's heath is minor. Women still get contraception drugs, and government will likely pick up the tab if they want an IUD or morning after pill. However by blurring the lines between a corporation and it's owners it sets the stage for all kinds of legal precedence including shattering the corporate veil that protects owners against acts of the corporation.

As a businessman I believe when you form a corporation or an LLC, and you decide to enter the markets and do business with the general public, you also by proxy agree to abide by the same laws that every other corporation has to abide by regardless if you are a closely held corp or a publicly traded corp.

This is a crazy politically motivated decision that is going to disrupt the way business is conducted in this country and will open the door for thousands of new law suites.

July 1, 2014 at 2:04 p.m.

Here's information on what Hobby Lobby is against--the "morning-after pill" and the "abortion pill".

Planned Parenthood has good information about both. http://bit.ly/1qO6Cye

I hope an abortion clinic will open in Chattanooga to provide needed services.

For now, the closest clinic is the Knoxville Center for Reproductive Health where abortions, abortion and morning-after pills are available.

July 1, 2014 at 2:54 p.m.

Oh, yeah, allah, what we need are abortion clinics. We're approaching 60 million abortions since 1973. I think the abortion industry is doing very well.

Of the 20 contraception options available Hobby Lobby is providing all but 4 of them.

You libs will forever be frustrated because you'll never be able to convince everyone, mostly Christians, that killing the unborn is ok.

You're insane.

July 2, 2014 at 4:54 a.m.

zableedofisterix said... "Oh, yeah, allah, what we need are abortion clinics. We're approaching 60 million abortions since 1973. I think the abortion industry is doing very well."

If it was doing well they'd be more abortion clinics and morning after and abortion pills would be readily available.

"Of the 20 contraception options available Hobby Lobby is providing all but 4 of them."

But if you were the one needing a certain type of contraception pill but couldn't get it that's a problem.

"You libs will forever be frustrated because you'll never be able to convince everyone, mostly Christians, that killing the unborn is ok."

I don't give a crap about convincing anyone about anything in this issue, particularly your brand of obscene xian fundamentalism. It's not killing the unborn, but removing an unwanted fetus. Read your Jehovah stories about killing babies.

But since you feel that way, how many unwanted newborn babies can we drop off at your house since you want to "protect" them?

And the next time you or a family member get cancer, you can't have it removed as it's killing something your Jehovah put there. You wouldn't want to violate your God's will, would you?

Just think about all the procedures and surgeries in hospitals that kill all those lovely things that the good Lord wants you to have.

It's always "God's will" until it happens to a Fundy-NutZ.

July 2, 2014 at 9:20 a.m.
Ki said...

The race right-wing fringe of the supreme court decision on this issue has less to do with their "moral" beliefs and more to do with who lines their pockets. For right price they can be bought too.

July 2, 2014 at 9:38 a.m.
tipper said...

allahsyoungerbrother aludes to an interesting point on "dropping off unwanted newborns" to one's house. This has always been my problem with anti-abortion proponents. It is their desire to make a LEGAL RIGHT of women to have abortions illegal and to pressure those women who wish to manage their families or women who have little means to support a child to bear one. If we want to enact laws on this issue, one should be that those who oppose abortion should pay child support until that child is 18. Sound ridiculous? It's no more ridiculous than the hypocracy of those who would force a birth to occur then walk away from any responsibility for that child afterword. Totally disgusting.

July 2, 2014 at 5:53 p.m.
ORRMEANSLIGHT said...

+++WE PREACH JESUS CHRIST CRUCIFIED+++

It is sad that those who know better...do it anyway.

Malleus Deum

July 3, 2014 at 11:28 a.m.
inquiringmind said...

So much for a rational court that in the same week broke its own precedent in which it used the requirement for religious groups to full out a form as a basis for its ruling. I told you it is dominated by white, male Catholics, one being fanatically doctrinaire about it.

July 5, 2014 at 10:02 a.m.
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