markpkessinger's comment history

markpkessinger said...

Hobby Lobby is a privately held corporation, the shares of which are owned by members of the Green family. A corporation is a legal fiction, a construct, an artificial entity licensed to engage in certain kinds of business activities. The entity per se has no "beliefs." When a business is incorporated, a new legal entity is created, whose assets and liabilities are wholly separate from the personal assets and liabilities of its individual shareholders. Indeed, the primary reason business owners choose to incorporate their businesses is to protect their personal assets from the debts and liabilities of the business. Once incorporated, if, say, a customer is seriously injured as a result of some negligence on the part of the business, the corporation can be sued, but not the individual shareholders (even though, in a case where shares are privately held, it may have been those very shareholders whose actions or inactions as operators of the business led directly to the condition that resulted in a customer getting injured). This separation of interests is often referred to as the "corporate veil," and is the foundation of U.S. corporate law.

Now, the Green family, in choosing to incorporate its family business, has voluntarily created a business entity whose assets and obligations are separate and distinct from their own individual interests. (And that's a perfectly sound business decision.) But given that the Green family's individual interests and the interests of the entity in which they are shareholders are separate and distinct, they cannot claim that their religious liberty is being infringed when it is the CORPORATE ENTITY, not they themselves, that is being required to comply with a law to which the shareholders, individually, hold a religious objection.

The editorial says that the real issue is the question of "who pays." But it is NOT the Green family who is paying for health insurance coverage: it is Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., an entity in which they are shareholders. The Green family has been only too happy to avail itself of the protection provided by the "corporate veil." Yet it now claims, quite disingenuously, that if the shareholders are not permitted to SELECTIVELY pierce the corporate veil in order to impute their personal religious values onto an artificial entity chartered by the state, that their religious liberty is somehow being infringed. It is not. In short, the Green family wants to have it both ways.

Finally, when a business offers health insurance to its employees, that benefit is part of the total compensation package paid to an employee in exchange for his or her labor. Therefore, even the portion of a premium paid by en employer is really the employee's money (or in kind service, which the employee rightfully earned and is thus the employee's to use in whatever way he or she chooses (within the limits of the plan), irrespective of an employers religious convictions.

March 26, 2014 at 3:52 p.m.

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