If you jumped into your time-traveling DeLorean, set the flux-capacitor to 1993, and traveled back in time to ask former President Bill Clinton about the scope of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which he signed that year, it’s doubtful he’d agree that neither this law nor the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment extends to corporations of any size. Nevertheless, this Clinton meme is the basis for the latest Fox News argument in support of the controversial Supreme Court decision in Burwell v Hobby Lobby Stores.
All day Tuesday, Fox News repeated over and over and over again that the conservative justices of the Supreme Court were merely upholding a bill which President Clinton signed in the early 1990s, therefore the left shouldn’t object to it. First of all, there’s quite a bit of Clinton’s record that the left wasn’t very happy about. Secondly, while it’s true that RFRA was the law referenced by the justices to support Hobby Lobby’s argument, it was never the intention of the law to extend religious freedoms in inanimate corporate entities. It was merely overreach by the conservative justices, the likes of which popped up in the Citizens United case several years ago. You know the line: corporations are people, my friend. That’s the overreach, even though, rationally speaking, it’s impossible for a non-human, non-living construct, which enjoys its own separate tax obligations and regulations, to be a person. Simply put: a corporation can not engage in “religious exercise.”
In fact, the word “corporation” or “business” doesn’t appear anywhere in the RFRA. This is entirely the whimsy of the conservative justices: corporations are people, people practice religion, therefore corporations practice religion. Contrary to this view was Justice Ginsburg who wrote in her excellent dissenting opinion:
“Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community.”
In other words, corporations aren’t churches and churches aren’t corporations.
Now, yes, Hobby Lobby is owned by David Green, a human, and operated by hundreds of other humans. So I suppose it could be argued that the decisions behind the operation of the corporation are made by humans, and so humans should be allowed to make decisions based on his or her religion. But as we’ve covered many, many times before by parsing some of the more dogmatic, ridiculous sections of the Bible (or the Quran for that matter), those human executives could ostensibly use the Free Exercise Clause to get away with all sorts of terrible things. In the case of Hobby Lobby, the owners believe that four forms of emergency birth control mandated by the Affordable Care Act are abortion-inducing medications, and because they’re religiously opposed to abortion, they shouldn’t have to pay employee premiums into insurance plans that provide what they believe to be abortion services. Meanwhile, Green and Hobby Lobby believe the other 16 contraception meds are totally permissible. The problem is that science has proved that the four meds aren’t abortion-inducing in any way.
As Chez Pazienza wrote yesterday, the owners of Hobby Lobby believe something that is objectively untrue, and the fact that they’re okay with other forms of birth control which operate similarly to the four they dislike proves an obvious example of cognitive dissonance indicating that this really isn’t a religious objection, but very likely a political one. On the other hand, if Hobby Lobby owners were being told by the government that, say, they have to keep their stores and offices open on Sundays and especially Easter Sunday, I could understand their objection, as well as a subsequent argument in court. Sunday is empirically a religious day of worship — especially Easter Sunday. But the Plan-B pill and the IUD aren’t empirically abortion-inducing and therefore these meds can’t be objected to on religious grounds without objecting to the other contraceptives on the list.
This is yet again another example of… CONTINUE READING