Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 28, 2015

Supreme Court Divided on Obamacare Contraceptives Mandate

Adam Liptak: “The Supreme Court on Tuesday seemed ready to accept that at least some for-profit corporations may advance claims based on religious freedom.”

“The justices seemed closely divided along ideological lines on other parts of the case. But Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who probably holds the crucial vote, seemed frustrated with some of the Obama administration’s positions.”

“By the end of the argument, there seemed to be a tentative consensus that the two companies, both controlled by religious families, could be allowed to claim rights under the relevant law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, without opening the floodgates to objections from major public corporations.”

Ruth Marcus: “Where to draw the line on corporate personhood is just one of the slippery slopes these cases pose. The other involves what religious claims to respect and how to balance competing needs.”

“Tuesday’s cases … implicate a third party — the companies’ employees, and their rights under the Affordable Care Act to no-added-cost contraception. Respecting the religious claims of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood threatens to diminish the rights of their workers.”

  • Hawkeye

    I fail to see where there is any case standing here for either Hobby Lobby or Conestoga Wood to be a party to this case. They are not religious organizations in the first place, nor does either corporation have full individual political rights. As soon as they were incorporated the rules changed on what standards applied. Were they not incorporated but instead direct personal employer/employee operations then the employers would themselves have some individual standing, but they incorporated for tax reasons and such protections that offers to the owners of the equity and thus forfeited some parts of individual ownership latitude in regard to the business. The process of incorporation, itself, changed the rules not whether the corporation is privately held or publicly traded. The for profit corporation should not have individual degree of right to freedom of religious expression and therefore not be able to transfer that to stock holders. There is a process for becoming a legitimate religious corporation. Let them go that route if it is so important to them. I do not see that there is any automatic corporate right for religious discrimination outside that. Nor should there be.

    • Nicole Duvall

      Wrong. Corporations have full individual political rights, according to the Citizens United ruling. All this case is about is whether the federal government can force business owners to pay for something they believe to be immoral. It’s a case about how far the government can force individuals to violate their own consciences. If you think this is “religious discrimination” you don’t have a clue.

      • Hawkeye

        Wrong yourself – corporations have neither the right to vote for elected office nor to hold office. They do not have any sort of complete franchise. They are special entities not real human beings in the first place. As soon as we again get a balanced and honorable SCOTUS, Citizens United goes south and that will be that.

        The individuals behind the corporations are not being forced to violate their own conscience because the onus is on the corporation whose existence they hide behind when they wish to duck responsibility and then they intend to empower it with their own private rights whenever they feel like it. Nobody is forcing them to own the corporations in the first place. If they cannot follow established labor law and keep their own deviant morals to themselves it is not because they were forced into doing anything.

        They are however attempting to force their employees into additional expense and effort whether or not those employees agree with the particular private religious outlooks of the stock holders. That is where the religious infringement is actually taking place. The stock holders are the offenders not the victims.

        • Nicole Duvall

          Sir, read the Citizens United case. You are completely ignorant of what a corporation is under the law. I know you’re impressed with your meandering logic on the subject, but you haven’t a clue, and I’m being nice.

          Corporations have long been considered individuals for legal purposes; it has nothing to do with the stockholders’ beliefs vs. employees’ beliefs. The government is trying to force the people who pay for insurance benefits to cover things that violate what they believe. They have a right to say where their money goes.The only religious infringement is from the government against Hobby Lobby, et al; Constitutional Law 101: only the government can violate the Constitution. That’s why people can’t sue each other for restricting their speech in private homes, etc. Please do your homework.

          • ClementC

            No, the government is trying to prevent employers from improperly interfering with their employees’ right to receive the medical care that they are entitled to under the law. Hobby Lobby has suffered no harm, because Hobby Lobby is not a person and has no religion. It is a fictitious legal person for the limited purpose of owning property, forming contracts, yes. It is not and cannot possibly be a real person with a religious conscience.

            To head off another spurious objection, religious organizations like churches aren’t and don’t either. The actual people who run said organizations are allowed to do so according to their organizational and personal religious beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that a religious organization itself can be said to have religious beliefs. Fictional people aren’t real, y’dig?

            The case should never have even gotten to court, much less to the Supreme Court. It’s yet another sad case of the outright religious zealotry of the right-wing Supreme Court justices. Any excuse to force extreme right-wing Christianity down everyone else’s throat, I guess.

            For proof, just wait until a “Muslim company” tries to claim this same exemption and see the Christian Right hit the roof about how Sharia has come to America and it’s the end of the world, blah blah.

            I’ll take the kind of freedom that applies equally to everyone. You can keep your “freedom for Real Americans, oppression for everyone else”, thanks.

          • Nicole Duvall

            Wrong. HL isn’t interfering with a so-called right to medical care. They will pay for birth control, they just object to 4 drugs most likely to cause early abortions. Paying for most drugs, with 4 exceptions isn’t “forcing extreme right-wing Christianity down everyone’s throat.” (Talk about extreme.) Obamacare has stripped people of comprehensive care from eye exams on down. The feds should be the last to pretend they’re trying to keep some fictional person from getting quality medical care. HL could stop providing insurance altogether and force their employees on the federal exchange. It would be cheaper, but they’d actually like to provide something for them.

            I totally agree that fictional people aren’t real, but real people (and their money) are the ones who will be forced to pay for something that violates what they believe. The two are inseparable.Please don’t tell me you believe in the kind of freedom that applies to everyone. You believe in oppression. I’m not sure I understand why you’d bring up Muslims “trying this same exemption” and claim Christians would object. Why would Christians force Muslims to pay for birth control–I wish they’d use it!–y’dig? (It’s fine with me if a Muslim company isn’t open on certain days, doesn’t serve certain products, and won’t serve certain people, who cares?)

            I also agree that this case should never have gone to court, but I’m not sure why you think right-wing zealots are behind it all. They aren’t the ones who brought this atrocity on the country. No company (or individual) should have to fund anything that the owners disagree wtih. The employees aren’t objecting here; they’re satisfied with what they have, but the government won’t be able to continue to make inroads in ideological control if they lose this case.

          • Nick Scanlan

            Corporations are not people and should not be awarded the rights of such. If you fail to see how this ruling going to Hobby Lobby is dangerous for our country, I feel sorry for you. Its all fine until you disagree with what the corporations “religious” views allow them to do. There have already been cases on this, one of them with the written decision done by Scalia. He said that a business could not violate a law based on religious exemptions. I wonder if he will argue against himself again?

            Just wait for a Muslim corporation to claim something similar and everyone freak out. Word of the wise for these decisions. Assume it is something you absolutely disagree with and see if you would still think the decision makes sense.

          • Nicole Duvall

            I personally don’t care how anyone argues whether corporations are people. The SC already said they are in Citizens United.
            Yes, I fail to see how preventing the feds from controlling HL is dangerous for this country. I feel sorry for you.

          • ClementC

            No, it didn’t. Have you read the decision? If you have, you weren’t paying attention. The Supreme Court improperly ruled that corporate speech is the same as individual speech for the purposes of the First Amendment only. It did not rule that corporations are the same as individuals for the purposes of all individual rights.

            Here’s a key part of the ruling: “this Court now concludes that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption. That speakers may have influence over or access to elected officials does not mean that those officials are corrupt. And the appearance of influence or access will not cause the electorate to lose faith in this democracy.”

            Each and every part of the quoted text is false. Independent expenditures do give rise to both corruption and the appearance of corruption. Wealthy people and corporations having disproportionate influence over and access to elected officials does mean that those officials are corrupt. And the appearance of influence or access has caused the electorate to lose faith in this democracy.

            The Citizens United ruling is a perfect example of corruption in the Supreme Court itself. Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas have both raised funds for partisan political causes, while sitting Supreme Court justices. This would be an ethics violation for any other judge… but the Supreme Court has conveniently exempted itself from judicial ethics rules. Why? So they can act unethically, of course!

          • UMassLowell

            I am well aware of the 1st Amendment aspect of the case. And if freedom of expression (i.e, what we do with our $$$) isn’t a part of this, we don’t have a 1st Amendment.

          • Nick Scanlan

            Also the most important part of this case is that health insurance is a benefit they pay to me, it is essentially my money. Where does a private company go and get to determine what I use my money for that they give me? All of their employees don’t follow their creed. They are not a religious entity by nature and the government even allows a 3rd party insurer to supply the insurance if they object. They are literally being babies about this and its just because they disagree with the law. The muslim thing was brought up because it seems you aren’t Muslim so its a religion you don’t follow. I can guarantee you that if a Muslim owned corporation wished to not allow something you wanted and the government mandated, you would be flipping out. It wouldn’t be the company’s religious freedom but instead your freedom would be being violated. Its a double standard that no one seems to realize until it happens. Stuff like this has already happened in Kansas and LA and its hilarious to me each time. Kansas said it was ok to put religious monuments in front of the court house as long as it wasn’t government funded…so then other religions wanted to put their statues there too and suddenly it wasn’t ok. Only the Christian religion was OK to be expressed. LA had a case with charter schools being allowed to be Christian. They won and then a Muslim Charter School opened…they tried to have it closed down. The hypocrisy is hilarious.

          • Nicole Duvall

            I guarantee I wouldn’t.

          • Nicole Duvall

            I guarantee I wouldn’t.

          • Nicole Duvall

            HL isn’t taking money they give their employees and trying to tell them how to allocate it. They are trying to avoid paying for something they disagree with, leaving multiple options for birth control available. It’s funny how the government is mandating birth control and won’t allow companies to opt out of paying for abortion-inducing drugs, but they’ve cut services that insurance companies are allowed to cover. For example, eye exams. A comprehensive eye exam (having been redefined by DHHS) now covers much less than it used to (such as disease screening). I can go on, but I have to get my kids ready for bed. Suffice it to say that eye health is much more important than covering somebody’s private sexual choices, but the feds want to cut services, while insisting that private funders pay for every single thing they can wring out of them. Not fair.

          • Nicole Duvall

            If I had been among those who protested in the KS and LA cases, that would be one thing, but you’re setting up a straw man (woman) here. You imagine that I have a set of beliefs and arguing from there. I am conservative, but I also find myself agreeing with liberals or seeing some value in what they say. For example, the SC just handed down a 4th Amendment decision, with 6 ruling the wrong way, and the 3 liberal women voting the right way. Check it out, as I have little time left online tonight.

          • Hawkeye

            Corporations have long been a particular limited type of person going back in English Common Law to well before American independence. That has been totally in a commercial or business sense with no political franchise included ever before.

            In the USA under our Constitution, political franchise and freedoms are granted by inclusion in that document which is why it has taken Amendments to include women and minorities among the endowed types of persons, and the Constitution actually mentions non-endowed types of persons. Corporations are not included at all in the Constitution. None of the founding fathers would have stood for it.

            It is not my homework in this case that is faulty.

          • Nicole Duvall

            You can tell me what you think about corps till you’re blue in the face. All I’m saying is that the SC has given them the same legal rights as persons. It’s stare decisis from there. Save your arguments for the SC, not me.

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