Hobby Lobby and Corporate Personhood
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Mon Jun 30, 2014 6:23 pm
As many of you already know, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of Hobby Lobby's petition to be exempt from certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act (Hereafter ACA) on grounds of religious belief. Namely, Hobby Lobby wished to be exempt from coverage of 4/20 listed contraceptive measures which it defined as abortificants.

I'm not terribly interested in religious debate, or even necessarily debate over "separation of church-and-state" (which is usually a misunderstood concept, the debate over which could fill it's own messy thread.) If it looks like we're going to talk about that, we might as well make a new thread.

What I am interested in is the grant of personal rights to ('small,' family-owned) for-profit corporations. Yes, the decision is made, but the question makes for lively discussion.

In sum, I would like opinions on the following:
  • To what extent should personal rights apply to corporations?
  • What should be the limits of rights afforded to corporate entities?
  • What are some potentially problematic implications of this ruling?
  • ...Any other questions you can think of?


Please, please please do not turn this into polemics. I'm hoping to spark discussion and possibly debate, not hate and flames.
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EDIT: If anyone's interested, the 95-page official Supreme Court documentation.
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EDIT 2: In light of the nature of this conversation, and the direction in which these posts are going, I believe that we should allow discussion of other aspects of this case, namely religious freedom and other church/state quandaries.


Last edited by CrystalMind on Mon Jun 30, 2014 8:38 pm; edited 1 time in total
WishingMoon
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Mon Jun 30, 2014 6:38 pm
I don't know much about the topic but I do believe this will affect money being donated to political candidate in elections.

Either way I don't like the idea of businesses having the rights of people. This sort of thing implies that those working for those corporations agree with them and that isn't true. It also isn't like they can just leave.

I'm sure this would also affect illegal policies for employes.

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Mon Jun 30, 2014 6:47 pm
Moon, I'm neither agreeing nor disagreeing with you at this point, but could I ask for some clarification on a few points?
  • Why couldn't a disgruntled employee leave?
  • Can I have examples of "illegal policies for employees?"


Aside from that, your point on political campaign contributions is interesting. As I understand it, U.S. Federal law prohibits corporations and unions from donating directly to a candidate's campaign, but I feel like there was some question over that a few years ago. I'm searching but not seeing it... does anyone else remember this?
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Mon Jun 30, 2014 7:00 pm
Just because a person can quite a job and leave of their own free will does not mean they have the financial means to leave a job. Leaving a job can mean rick of homelessness or hunger and many individuals have others, such as elderly or children, to support. So to say "if you don't like what the corporation is doing you can just leave" undermines the complexity of an individual's need to support themselves.

If a corporation has religious rights then what is considered right for that religion can bleed into who they hire and fire from their business. In Christianity it is wrong to have tattoos and it is legal for a business to not hire someone with visible tattoos. Sexuality and gender expression can also be discriminated against.

I forget what exactly was said but Colbert Report covered money from corporations and elections.

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Mon Jun 30, 2014 7:15 pm
I was pretty sure that was what you were getting at, but I wanted to make sure before I made any sort of response. Thank you for clarifying. Smile

I agree that the complexities of a person's situation may make leaving a job disadvantageous. Yes, they are capable of leaving, but are they really able to leave? Might be another great thread. On the other hand, most companies are open about their policies--I know that Hobby Lobby is.

In terms of hiring and firing, I don't think that EEO compliance is about to disappear. An employer cannot refuse to hire someone because of race/religion/sexuality/gender expression, etc.

It is worth considering, however, that if someone with a strongly alternative lifestyle (definition, up to you) applied to work in a rather conservative office, it may become an uncomfortable work environment for all involved. To my understanding, an employer can refuse to hire you and you should refuse to work for a group if it seems that it would be a poor fit for all involved.

On tattoos... it's a interesting example, but your statement isn't strictly accurate. We can move that discussion to PMs if you're interested, but I don't believe that line of conversation would benefit this thread as a whole.

As an aside, I think it's important to note that it was never the employees who had a spoken problem with Hobby Lobby's policy--the case against hobby lobby was brought by an Executive federal agency. My apologies, as I read through the syllabus, I find that I wrote this the wrong way around; Hobby Lobby Inc. et al. brought the suit against HHS. Same parties, different order. My bad.
----

((I'm really starting to wish I could dredge up that article on campaign contributions, now. I can't seem to find it anywhere! thunk ))


Last edited by CrystalMind on Mon Jun 30, 2014 7:27 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Mon Jun 30, 2014 7:24 pm
No problem.

Yes it is illegal to refuse based on those things but that doesn't mean people won't. It is not right to fire someone for getting pregnant but Catholic schools have done it.

I'd be interested to hear how it is inaccurate if you want.

Hobby Lobby wouldn't be the only company to show this either. I wonder how employees of Chick-fil-a reacted to their anti-gay stand point.

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Mon Jun 30, 2014 7:34 pm
WishingMoon wrote:
No problem.

Yes it is illegal to refuse based on those things but that doesn't mean people won't. It is not right to fire someone for getting pregnant but Catholic schools have done it.

I'd be interested to hear how it is inaccurate if you want.

Hobby Lobby wouldn't be the only company to show this either. I wonder how employees of Chick-fil-a reacted to their anti-gay stand point.


Actually the Catholic School that fired the 'pregnant' teacher had a morals clause, that she signed. . .

And Chick-fil-a did not have an Anti-Gay company Policy, it was the Company owner who made anti-gay statements based on his religious beliefs, the company never had a policy and does not discriminate, either in hiring or serving anyone. . .

And Lady Crystal, you may be thinking about this Corporate spending limits. . .it allows them to spend on political campaigns though not donating directly to candidates. . .much like the unions do with ads, etc.

And it happens on both sides (though the Unions pretty well go straight Democrat, even though not all union members necessarily agree with them); Harry Reid complains about the Koch brothers on the Right, while ignoring George Soros, Warren buffet or Tom Steyer on the Left.


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Mon Jun 30, 2014 7:43 pm
I'll PM you about the tattoo thing.

Yes, people will. However, the specific example you give (And please, in the future, references would be helpful), is a little different.

There's a few things at play. My understanding is that--federally speaking (this may differ based on state)--non-discrimination policies are enforceable only if an office has more than 20 employees.*

In addition, specifically religious institutions (churches/mosques/synagogues/temples, affiliated religious schools, etc.) Are exempt from a number of practices. In the case of a fired Catholic (teacher? I assume because you mention a school, but there's no reference, so I'm uncertain.) for pregnancy, I can only assume that the pregnancy occurred out of wedlock, and she was therefore on contradiction with the Church's teaching--technically a breach of her contract. [I am simplifying here, mostly because I don't know the details of the case you referenced.]

I'm not saying that I support the decision, but I'm trying to explain the legal complexities inherent to such a situation.

TL;DR--Basically, the size of the business and the status of the entity as religious, for-profit, not-for-profit, and/or non-profit all comes into play in cases like these. In the case of Hobby Lobby Inc., the ruling applies to "close-held" companies. I'll let you know when I hit that point in the documentation.

We are getting a little off topic, though, Moon.

In this case, the Court upheld Hobby Lobby's petition to refuse coverage for 4 of the 20 FDA-approved contraceptives. Technically, employees can still procure these items, but their employer won't pay for it.

I can think of other things that employers might not want to cover--and I expect to see some of these cases crop up in the coming year. Vaccines? Total medical coverage? Is there anything problematic you can think of?

---
*I looked this up the other day, but my memory might be wrong. If I am incorrect, someone please let me know.
---
EDIT: Thank you, Sir Scarz, both for the link and the discussion contribution! That was exactly what I was looking for. Smile


Last edited by CrystalMind on Mon Jun 30, 2014 7:45 pm; edited 1 time in total
WishingMoon
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Mon Jun 30, 2014 7:43 pm
Scarz wrote:
Actually the Catholic School that fired the 'pregnant' teacher had a morals clause, that she signed. . .

And Chick-fil-a did not have an Anti-Gay company Policy, it was the Company owner who made anti-gay statements based on his religious beliefs, the company never had a policy and does not discriminate, either in hiring or serving anyone. . .

A lot of companies have policies that their empolyees have to sign. Doesn't mean that type of moral clause should be allowed.

Chick fil a announced that they stopped serving the toys they had shortly after that all went down because of "dangers." However the truth was that the company that made the toys said they broke their partnership with them because of those comments. They also had a fake facebook account with fake stock images of a teen girl go around and combat those talking against Chick fil a by quoting the bible? (If I'm remembering that right.) That is more then just a company owner making comments. That is blatant lying in order to make themselves look good in defense of these comments.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/24/chick-fil-a-jim-henson-toy-recall-gay_n_1699597.html

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Mon Jun 30, 2014 8:00 pm
It was a Catholic School and they have the right to include a morals clause. . .

As to Chik-fil-A, there was a lot of 'monkey business' on both sides, however the Owner's statements did not reflect the view or was it ever a part of company policy and the company that broke the deal with them for toys, did so based on the Owner's statement and not company policy. . .they have a right to do that, though there may have been legal ramifications based on their contract with each other. . .that is just like a company who pulls their advertising when they disagree with the content of a show or the views of the the people on the show. . .like some did over "Duck Dynasty" and "Paula Deen"; but not all advertisers pulled out. . .that was their choice.

I think Hobby-Lobby was doing the right thing, and, as you said, they agreed to cover all but 4 of the contraceptives, based on the fact that they are considered morning after or abortion drugs.

There may be other things that other companies might think about not covering, but the primary problem to most coverage, pre-existing conditions, is no longer an issue as they have to cover that (I know a few people who continued to work at jobs they hated, only because they wouldn't be covered on a new job).

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Mon Jun 30, 2014 8:02 pm
As a religious institution, I think a morals clause is quite appropriate.

Insofar as Chick-fil-A is concerned, I believe the owners are entitled to express their opinion, as are you to express your opinion against them and discontinue your patronage.

Any other discussion of Chick-Fil-A in the context currently presented does nothing to contribute to the main topic of this thread.

Corporate Personhood and the application of first-amendment rights (and possibly others):
  • limits?
  • expectations of future cases that might trickle in?
  • Opinions on what rights should be afforded to corporate entities?


EDIT: O.O I was swooshed!

Yes, it's good that preexisting conditions are covered now.

Err... OK. So, I happened to watch coverage of this case from some of the mainstream media outlets (have I mentioned how much I hate the mainstream media? *shudders*) And the anchors/correspondents kept bringing up the question of whether the following cases (these two, specifically) might have a leg to stand on, now that this one's gone through:
  • Decline of vaccine coverage
  • Decline of all health coverage (their example was Christian Scientists, which I admit I know nothing about.)


Do you guys really think those have a chance? Why/Why-not?

*posts before she can be swooshed again*
((I'll come up with more questions later.))
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Mon Jun 30, 2014 8:18 pm
  • limits? I believe the court limited this to small-family run corporations; I could see problems if these rights were afforded to GE or Shell Oil; but I foresee no problems with these smaller companies. . .

  • expectations of future cases that might trickle in? I don't expect any future cases, unless something else comes up with the broad swipe of Obamacare, that isn't immediately visible.

  • Opinions on what rights should be afforded to corporate entities? I think as long as it is these smaller corporations, I see no problem of rights unless they conflict with existing laws. . .as long as the Equal Employment Opportunity Act is still in effect


The only other problem that I could see coming to court, would be these small family corporations refusing to serve someone based on their lifestyle, etc., like the photographer or the bakery that didn't want to take the pictures or cater a gay wedding based on their religious views. . .the lower courts have upheld the rights of the people requesting their service as the companies are service industries. . .as far as I know, neither case has gone beyond the State supreme Court. . .

Though, personally, I would have gone to another photographer or bakery, but that's just me. . .

I am not sure about the declining of vaccine, as most people that push against vaccines are not doing so based on a religious view (except maybe Christian Scientists) and I think that the religious aspect of the Hobby-Lobby case was the main point the decision (the Religious Freedom Act).

The same goes for all medical coverage. . .although if there is a company run by Christian Scientist that employs only Christian Scientist, they might have a case in both instances; however, the courts have been known to step in and overrule the rights of parents when a child's health is at stake.

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Last edited by Scarz on Mon Jun 30, 2014 8:26 pm; edited 2 times in total
WishingMoon
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Mon Jun 30, 2014 8:18 pm
And people have the right to not have their personal lives dictated by their job. I can understand the worry of unwed pregnancy being influential on children but the marriage status or not shouldn't be discussed in the class room so neither should a pregnancy. So ultimately I don't believe it would be an influence.

An owner sets the tone for a company. Just like "Duck Dynasty" was postponed in the making of by the producers.

Crystal: I can understand if this discussion of Chick Fil A is getting a little off base but at the same time past court rulings do affect present cases. Chick Fil A's policy to close on Sunday,ect have influenced Hobby Lobby.

I would like to know what pills they are considering abortion drugs. I've seen a lot of miss information on this type of thing.

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Mon Jun 30, 2014 8:33 pm
I couldn't find the exact medications that they disputed, but this is the list that was posted by the USA Today:

Plan B "morning-after pill"

Ella "morning-after pill"

Hormonal and copper intrauterine devices (IUDs)

As to the Teacher, she was employed by the Catholic Church, the Church has the right to have a morals clause, she signed the morals clause and then failed on her end. . .it doesn't mean she cannot teach, just not at that Catholic School as she violated her terms of employment.

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Last edited by Scarz on Mon Jun 30, 2014 8:36 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Mon Jun 30, 2014 8:36 pm
Sir Scarz beat me to it, but yes, the information I've seen consistently lists Plan B, Ella, and 'two intrauterine devices,' as the objectionable measures in question.

Moon: I don't deny that past court cases have their effect on current discussion, but your previous post seemed to be headed in a direction more harmful than helpful. My goal was to facilitate reasonable discussion.

In terms of "Chick-Fil-A's decision to close on Sundays," Chick-Fil-A, Hobby Lobby Inc., and many other businesses have closed on Sundays (or another holy day of the week)for far longer than these cases have been under discussion.

'Duck Dynasty' is an entertainment program, the postponement of which did not actually impact the airing schedule (They'd already finished filming the next season.) I believe that, as in this case, the persons were entitled to speak their beliefs, however misreported they were.

Sir Scarz, I thank you very much for your input. I see no flaw in your reasoning and, actually, (as I continue to read through the court opinions) the court stated that this decision applied specifically to the contraception mandate, and not to vaccines. (This is one reason why I dislike the mainstream media--they get in a hurry and make mistakes.

In light of the nature of this conversation, and the direction in which these posts are going, I believe that we should allow discussion of other aspects of this case, namely religious freedom and other church/state quandaries.

*ducks and covers*


Last edited by CrystalMind on Mon Jun 30, 2014 8:40 pm; edited 2 times in total
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