Open Thread

An Historic Session of Congress

Artist - Bill Day

In other news, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals cited Citizens United while ruling in favor of a company that claimed the Obamacare contraception mandate violates their religious freedom. This is in direct contradiction to an earlier ruling by the Tenth Circuit.

Hold on to your butts.

  • trgahan

    I can’t see how, business-wise, getting the contraception mandate tossed due to a corporation’s religious beliefs (if a corporation can have a religious belief, then a church can have a tax bill!) would be anything but a disadvantage. Sure, Hobby Lobby leadership can sleep better at night knowing they found yet another way to metaphorically screw their cashiers; the right wing will tout it as the beginning the repeal of Obamacare; and the Right to Life movement will also see it as some great victory for morals, er something…

    But the business reality is that 50-60% of the work force is female. By opting out, such businesses are only giving their competitors a cheap and easy “benefit” to offer future employees. The business’s that do opt out can be easily painted as ‘mean spirited’ and indifferent to employee needs. And while, yeah, it may not mean much to minimum wage store employee, those employees need managers, and those managers need managers, etc. And when 50+% of the work force are female, you can’t think it won’t have a long term negative impact.

  • Draxiar

    Where does “religious freedom” end and begin? Let’s say an employer was a Jehovah’s Witness. Well, they don’t believe in blood transfusions. Can they exercise their right of religious freedom not to have insurance pay for them? How about organ transplants? Fertility medications? Glasses? Dental work?

    How about natioal holidays? If an employer was Jewish could he say that the imposition of Christmas being a national holiday with the requirement of the day off for his employees violated his religious freedom since he may not celebrate it?

    I’m not a lawyer…not even close. So I wonder if these claims would make it anywhere. If they did then not doing something in the context of religious freedom could go a long way…to the point of ridiculous (and I may even be ridiculous in the examples I’ve cited above). For example, what stops an employer from claiming religious freedom and having segregated bathrooms?

    Ultimately my question is: In the eyes of the court, what constitutes “religious freedom” and what constitutes bullshit? Seems to me even the court can’t decide.

  • muselet

    As a matter of current law, this decision is wrong. As the Supreme Court explained in United States v. Lee, “[w]hen followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity.” Lee established — with no justice in dissent — that religious liberty does not allow an employer to “impose the employer’s religious faith on the employees,” such as by forcing employees to give up their own rights because of the employer’s objections to birth control.

    Unfortunately for us all, the Lee decision was handed down in 1982, so at least three of the current Supremes won’t feel bound to uphold it (Lee is ancient history), unanimous decision or not.

    This could get very ugly.


  • GrafZeppelin127

    The district court in the Hobby Lobby case made it very clear that corporations do not have free-exercise rights; viz., only people can have, observe, and exercise religion. But the question, as stupid as it is, inevitably arises: If the First Amendment gives corporations free speech rights, how can that same amendment not give corporations the right to free exercise of religion?

    Now, that being said, “free exercise of religion” does not include requiring other people, even one’s employees, to obey one’s own religious convictions; requiring employer-provided medical insurance to cover medical risks, needs and treatments that happen to offend the employer’s religious beliefs does not violate the employer’s right to free exercise, regardless of whether the employer is an individual or a corporation. That’s the important thing, although this is an alarming ruling.