The government “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of re
November 27, 2013 7:15 AM   Subscribe

Yesterday, the Supreme Court announced that it will hear two challenges to the Affordable Care Act's mandate that women's contraception must be covered. The cases, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, ask the Court to focus on whether the pregnancy-related care coverage can be enforced against profit-making companies — or their individual owners — when the coverage contradicts privately held religious beliefs. posted by roomthreeseventeen (214 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
"religion" (I got cut off!)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:16 AM on November 27, 2013


Where are the anit-tax religious movements? Where are the religions that prohibit paying overtime? Where are the religions that say any health insurance at all is unethical, because a person's life is in gods' hands?

Religion only comes into play when the affects of the religions target those with less power. IMO this is not a religious issue, it's a "what can we get away with?" issue.
posted by rebent at 7:24 AM on November 27, 2013 [38 favorites]


(last WSJ article is paywalled - anyone have a link around it?)
posted by rebent at 7:25 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know there's a difference between the people who own the corporation and the corporation itself. That's precisely why corporations exist. To form a legal buffer between the company and its owners so the owners don't get sued into oblivion.

If the owners of these companies want the companies to reflect their personal religious beliefs, there's a form of organization that would allow that. It's called a sole proprietorship.
posted by Naberius at 7:27 AM on November 27, 2013 [83 favorites]


Kathleen Sibelius must SERIOUSLY be getting tired of listening to wingnuts and asshole bureaucrats.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 7:27 AM on November 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Let's turn things over to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
"It is a permissible reading of the [free exercise clause]...to say that if prohibiting the exercise of religion is not the object of the [law] but merely the incidental effect of a generally applicable and otherwise valid provision, the First Amendment has not been offended....To make an individual's obligation to obey such a law contingent upon the law's coincidence with his religious beliefs, except where the State's interest is 'compelling' - permitting him, by virtue of his beliefs, 'to become a law unto himself,' contradicts both constitutional tradition and common sense.' To adopt a true 'compelling interest' requirement for laws that affect religious practice would lead towards anarchy."
Whoops, that wasn't The Notorious RBG, it was noted secular leftist Antonin Scalia.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:30 AM on November 27, 2013 [46 favorites]


FFS. It is insane that this is even an issue, never mind that it's going before the Supreme Court.
posted by aught at 7:30 AM on November 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


Why on earth would a corporation's religious belief (even assuming the court turns out to say corporations can have them) be allowed to extend to what medications and equipment are covered under an employee's insurance? Wouldn't that be the corporation exercising religious discrimination against the employee? If I forced all my employees to, I don't know, take Communion every morning before work, would that be substantially different than what Hobby Lobby is trying to do?
posted by mittens at 7:31 AM on November 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


(Though, to be fair, Scalia doesn't weigh in on whether "lead towards anarchy" is a good or bad thing from his perspective.)
posted by tonycpsu at 7:31 AM on November 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Can a CEO or a pharmacist please object to Viagra and Cialis on religious or conscience grounds, so we can have a good test case? Or, let's have a Jehova's Witness CEO object to their company's insurance covering blood transfusions. I'm sure we can find a religious objection to artificial joints and organ transplants. Come on, powerful people. Let's show some imagination.
posted by oneironaut at 7:34 AM on November 27, 2013 [22 favorites]


WSJ article is an op-ed written by John H. Cochrane, an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute and a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution, so I'm confident that you can gin up an incredibly accurate idea of what's behind the paywall without even having to read it.

This entire topic chills me to the bone. The methods and means that are being used to chip away at women's basic rights and autonomy are so terrifying that I can barely think about it without lapsing into gibbering nonsense.

If this gets the thumbs-up from the Supremes, and I have every reason to believe that it will, are Scientologist-owned corporations allowed to forbid their employees from seeking psychiatric care? Will business owners who happen to be Jehovah's Witnesses get the green light to specifically deny their employees employer-provided health insurance that covers blood transfusions? Strange how no one in the MSM is talking about those possibilities. It's almost as though "religious liberty" is entirely beside the point...
posted by divined by radio at 7:34 AM on November 27, 2013 [79 favorites]


It really is a head scratchier to me, HL and such like are seriously arguing that there can/should exist a religious test to being employed by a private entity?
A corporation is not a person (yeah I know) a corporation does not have a religious belief.
posted by edgeways at 7:36 AM on November 27, 2013


I hope that somewhere there is a big list of the places filing these cases, so I never, ever buy from them.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 7:37 AM on November 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


Kathleen Sibelius must SERIOUSLY be getting tired of listening to wingnuts and asshole bureaucrats.

I'm getting tired of listening to wingnuts and asshole bureaucrats, and I'm not even working for HHS.
posted by entropicamericana at 7:38 AM on November 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


I was gonna make a joke about how "well I guess if corporations are people they're allowed to have religions too" but decided to RTFA first, and what do you know, that's what the appeals court actually said! Incredible...
posted by DynamiteToast at 7:38 AM on November 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


It really is a head scratchier to me, HL and such like are seriously arguing that there can/should exist a religious test to being employed by a private entity?

No. Hobby Lobby would like to be exempted from having to provide certain basic services in employer-sponsored health care, such as contraception, that it considers against the religious beliefs of its fundy management.
posted by aught at 7:39 AM on November 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I assume all of these corporations who object to contraception coverage provide a living wage on which employees can raise a healthy family, generous paid maternity and paternity leave, and offer flextime and/or daycare for employee children.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:40 AM on November 27, 2013 [56 favorites]


I mentally completed the title with the words ' reproductive liberty'.
posted by Dashy at 7:42 AM on November 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm a pastafarian and when my giant craft-store concern finally takes off, I'm going to ask the supreme court if I really have to let my employees get viagra since we deeply believe in the sanctity of the wet, noodly appendage.
posted by mattbucher at 7:42 AM on November 27, 2013 [27 favorites]


Didn't I read somewhere that Hobby Lobby's employee insurance plan before ACA also paid for contraception?
posted by Thorzdad at 7:42 AM on November 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I eagerly await the creation of for-profit limited liability companies that supply psilocybin mushrooms and/or marijuana to facilitate religious practices derived from Native American and/or Rastafarian tradition. I hear folks mostly listen to psybient or dubstep during vision quests these days.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:43 AM on November 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


Dahlia Lithwick (Slate):
As court-watchers have been predicting for months, the case will prove to be an unholy alliance of corporate personhood doctrine, religious freedom claims, and abortion rights. What, I ask, could possibly go wrong?
...
The court will need to address several questions here, beginning with whether a for-profit corporation can be a “person” capable of exercising religion freedom. Citizens United taught us that corporations count as people when it comes to campaign speech. Does this weird concept of personhood extend to their religious rights? The 10th Circuit said yes. The 3rd Circuit said no. More questions: Does the birth-control coverage benefit substantially burden a company’s exercise of its religious rights, if it has them? Is the contraception mandate nevertheless justified by compelling government interests because it is a vitally important element of affording women equality in health care?
Scott Lemieux (The American Prospect):
Of course, the libertarian implications of this argument are no accident. The chairman of Eden Foods, one of the companies that challenged the mandate (although their case was not taken by the Supreme Court), told the journalist Irin Carmon that “I don’t care if the federal government is telling me to buy my employees Jack Daniel’s or birth control.What gives them the right to tell me that I have to do that? That’s my issue, that’s what I object to, and that’s the beginning and end of the story." The fact that the legal theory being used to challenge the mandate would provide a license for federal judges to arbitrarily rule any regulation they don't like inapplicable is more of a feature than a bug for the challengers. But when Congress passed RFRA it did not intend to subject federal regulations to Ayn Rand's philosophical commitments.
...
Even if one assumes that the mandate represents a "substantial burden," another problem with the argument being made against the mandate is that the free exercise of religion is an inherently individual act. As Sarah Posner argued, the idea that a secular, for-profit corporation can "exercise" religion is a strange concept that would be inconsistent with a substantial body of precedent. Some have argued that the Court's Citizens United decision should be seen as changing the legal context, the issues involved are very different. Corporations must have some free speech rights because the dissemination of speech often involves corporate entities—Congress cannot ban the showing of Masters of Sex just because it's distributed by Viacom. Religious exercise, conversely, is inherently personal. Some shareholders in the Hobby Lobby may have religious beliefs that contradict the religious mandate, but the corporation itself cannot.
...
One argument that has been made again and again by supporters of the legal challenges is that the religious consciences of employers are being burdened so that employees can get "free" contraception. But this is an erroneous argument that misapprehends the basic concept of employer-provided health insurance. Contraception provided by health insurance isn't "free," it's earned. Companies get substantial taxpayer subsidies for partly paying employees in health insurance instead of cash. In exchange, this insurance has to be comprehensive enough to provide value to the employee. Women getting basic health-care needs covered by insurance they're receiving as compensation are not receiving any kind of free ride.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:43 AM on November 27, 2013 [29 favorites]


Relatedly, Hobby Lobby just opened a store in my town (lefty Ithaca, NY) and it's being picketed continuously by local students and progressive groups since the health benefits case hit the news. Though even before this case came to light, it was puzzling why they would open a store in a town that already had two big-box craft stores; talk about overkill (though I understand their business model is based on undercutting chains like Michaels and AC Moore in markets where the customer base is already established).
posted by aught at 7:45 AM on November 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


As Rachel Maddow said on her show last night, if your workplace is owned by Christian Scientists, does this mean they can deny you coverage for any treatment other than prayer?
posted by dnash at 7:47 AM on November 27, 2013 [25 favorites]


No. Hobby Lobby would like to be exempted from having to provide certain basic services in employer-sponsored health care, such as contraception, that it considers against the religious beliefs of its fundy management.

But you either have to be the same religion as HL, or be willing to submit to that religion's interpretation of federal law in order to work there.
posted by edgeways at 7:50 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here's a possible "archive" of the WSJ piece, on Ann Coulter's forum, FWIW.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:51 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you work for a Scientologist-owned corporation, do they get to deny you coverage for your child's schizophrenia?
posted by Sophie1 at 7:52 AM on November 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


thanks for putting this together. needed some reading for this evening while avoiding amateur drunk night.

I'm really interested to see how this plays out.
posted by sio42 at 7:52 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can a CEO or a pharmacist please object to Viagra and Cialis on religious or conscience grounds, so we can have a good test case? Or, let's have a Jehova's Witness CEO object to their company's insurance covering blood transfusions. I'm sure we can find a religious objection to artificial joints and organ transplants.

If you don't want to wait for any of these slopes to slip, there's always this:
Catholic University Claims It Does Not Have To Allow Unions Because Religious Freedom
posted by Room 641-A at 7:55 AM on November 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


This piece is from June, before SCOTUS took up the Hobby Lobby case, but is worth reading for the behind-the-scenes look at what it's like to work for Hobby Lobby, and how some religious principles are more important than others.
But a Christian foundation for a company does not always translate to the workplace. Charity Carney, a historian who has studied mega-churches, worked at the Nacadoches, a Texas Hobby Lobby location in the summer of 2011, when she was between teaching jobs. She says that although the stores are officially closed on Sundays, “they keep employees for as long as they need to”— including on Sundays and weeknights past closing time—in order to stock shelves or ready merchandise for the next day. Carney’s employment at Hobby Lobby came to an abrupt end when she refused, after working a 12-hour day, to stay into the night to help set up Christmas ornaments. The manager “basically told me if I left I shouldn’t come back,” Carney says.

Every staff meeting, Carney says, began with a reading from the Bible and a prayer. The employee handbook, which she said was kept in the store but not distributed to employees, included biblical references.

Despite the company’s religious bent, Carney also described an atmosphere of sexual harassment, with employees photographing women’s backsides with their cell phones and laughing about it, as well as a “culture of crude talk,” which she says management turned a “blind eye” to.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:55 AM on November 27, 2013 [12 favorites]


My religion doesn't believe in modern medical "science" so therefore the insurance I provide covers no medical procedures and is therefore very inexpensive.
posted by j03 at 7:56 AM on November 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Room 641-A: "Catholic University Claims It Does Not Have To Allow Unions Because Religious Freedom"

Previously on MeFi
posted by tonycpsu at 7:56 AM on November 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can't even read the WSJ piece; I'm just so done. Contraception is fucking health care. Period. That's it. There are a myriad of reasons why someone would be taking hormonal birth control, an IUD, or any of the other options, and they are none of my employer's business.
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:57 AM on November 27, 2013 [12 favorites]


The real problem is allowing corporations to cherry-pick which aspects of "personhood" they qualify for; it should be an all or nothing deal. Want religion? Ok, but we can also arrest you and send you to jail when you break the law.

(Ok, it'd have to be some modified form of "house arrest" owing to the limited mobility of the prisoner, but I'm sure that the burgeoning Prison-Industrial Complex wouldn't turn down the profits to be had from figuring out how to enforce a jail term against a business entity.)
posted by radwolf76 at 7:57 AM on November 27, 2013 [14 favorites]


Of course the ultimate question is "Why the hell should my health insurance options depend on my employer's religious beliefs?"

It's insane that health insurance in this country is tied to your job. Why not cars?

We'd think it was ridiculous if your employer covered three fourths of your payment on a Buick Regal, and if you changed jobs you had to give back the Buick because your new company has a deal with Ford.
posted by Naberius at 7:58 AM on November 27, 2013 [26 favorites]


I don't know why I laugh bitterly at the Oh-god-oh-god-we're-all-gonna-die implications of the global warming and antibiotic threads, but this is the one that threatens to send me spiraling into gibbering terror.

Accumulation, maybe?
posted by dogheart at 7:59 AM on November 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's insane that health insurance in this country is tied to your job. Why not cars?

Not everyone needs a car. Everyone needs health insurance.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:00 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, but not everyone has a job.

Health insurance shouldn't be tied to employment, but we can't have nice things, so it is, and we end up with bullshit like this.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:01 AM on November 27, 2013 [11 favorites]


And this ties in, to me, with the Sara McKenna "absconding with her fetus" vs Bode Miller custody story -- where any of women's life choices, from health care to going to university, are under the control of other people.
posted by jeather at 8:02 AM on November 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


I accidentally got into it with a coworker (my superior, in fact!) about this the other day when he said something about how noble it was that Hobby Lobby was fighting this good fight against Obamacare making them pay for abortions (to be forcefully performed on unwitting Mennonites, next to the Mod Podge display, presumably). I let my guard down and monologged for a minute about how every part of what he just said was wrong, and about how, well, when you live and work and make money in a contemporary society sometimes you just have to play ball.

Ugh. Such a tactical mistake. Never ever ever get into it at work.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:02 AM on November 27, 2013 [13 favorites]


Thanks for pulling all this together, roomthreeseventeen.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:03 AM on November 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Not everyone needs a car. Everyone needs health insurance.

I'm not sure that's a good reason to tie it to you job, either; not everyone has a job. It is a good reason for health care to be provided to everyone by the government.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:03 AM on November 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm not sure that's a good reason to tie it to you job, either; not everyone has a job. It is a good reason for health care to be provided to everyone by the government.

Well, yes, that would be preferable.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:04 AM on November 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's insane that health insurance in this country is tied to your job.

It didn't used to be so, but it's becoming increasingly insane as conservatives expand the use of corporate power over workers as an avenue to curb civil liberties in general.

Yet another reason why I'm still furious the Obama administration didn't even try to pursue a Single-Payer health insurance structure instead of the fatally-compromised-from-the-start and written-by-conservatives ACA.
posted by aught at 8:04 AM on November 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


i think the corporations should start lobbying for universal health care so they don't have to worry about what happens in their employees' uteruses. let the government take care of it. i know the whole abortion thing will be an issue there too but that somehow seems like a better arena for the debate.
posted by sio42 at 8:08 AM on November 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Try opening a restaurant, claiming that food safety regulations violate your religious freedom, and see how far that gets you.

The only reason anybody has ever even considered debating this is OMG SEX.
posted by Foosnark at 8:10 AM on November 27, 2013 [16 favorites]


Sorry, our new CEO is a druid. Our health plan is now this basket of roots and herbs. Hold still for your trepanation.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:11 AM on November 27, 2013 [32 favorites]


The only reason anybody has ever even considered debating this is OMG SEX.

Well, that, and the common belief that contraceptives are a form of abortion. Seriously. A ton of religious fundies believe this.

Oh, and, blackmoozlimsocialist!!!11!
posted by Thorzdad at 8:13 AM on November 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sorry, our new CEO follows the ancient Roman cult of Dionysus. Wine-soaked orgies are now mandatory every full moon. Meet in conference room A.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:13 AM on November 27, 2013 [44 favorites]


tonycpsu:

Scott Lemieux (The American Prospect):
"Even if one assumes that the mandate represents a "substantial burden," another problem with the argument being made against the mandate is that the free exercise of religion is an inherently individual act. As Sarah Posner argued, the idea that a secular, for-profit corporation can "exercise" religion is a strange concept that would be inconsistent with a substantial body of precedent. Some have argued that the Court's Citizens United decision should be seen as changing the legal context, the issues involved are very different. Corporations must have some free speech rights because the dissemination of speech often involves corporate entities—Congress cannot ban the showing of Masters of Sex just because it's distributed by Viacom. Religious exercise, conversely, is inherently personal. Some shareholders in the Hobby Lobby may have religious beliefs that contradict the religious mandate, but the corporation itself cannot."

Don't you know that it says in the Bible that God is the head of the CEO and the CEO is the head of the body/corporation, and the body/corporation must submit to the CEO just as surely as the CEO must submit to God in HIS infinite wisdom.
posted by symbioid at 8:14 AM on November 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


At least in places like Texas, women who cannot get their birth control covered by their employer can always get low-cost or even free birth control from Planned Paren.... Oh.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:14 AM on November 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


i think the corporations should start lobbying for universal health care so they don't have to worry about what happens in their employees' uteruses.

You misunderstand. They don't want to not have to worry -- they want to control.
posted by aught at 8:15 AM on November 27, 2013 [19 favorites]


Oh and I grew up in an Assembly of God, and while there was talk of abortion now and then, and "RU-486", general contraception was never considered an issue. I knew that Catholics had problems with it, but I don't know if my church was just a little more liberal; just didn't care to give the time; it wasn't an issue 20-30 years ago in the same way it is now (save, as I said, for RU-486 (OR RU-4LIFE!? ugh)), or if my church changed with the times and is now an issue or what.

We had a radio station that ran Randall Terry's radio show (yes, that's how extreme we were), but there was, again, never a mention about birth control. It was always abortion as the issue.

I just never understood why all of a sudden this is now becoming an issue since the 2000s. Except some asshat martyr pharmacist decided to make some stupid show and now it's the thing to do.
posted by symbioid at 8:18 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


It didn't used to be so, but it's becoming increasingly insane as conservatives expand the use of corporate power over workers as an avenue to curb civil liberties in general.

Wait, what? The tying of health insurance to employment isn't some conservative/corporate plot, it was an accident of regulatory and tax policy.
posted by dsfan at 8:19 AM on November 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure that's a good reason to tie it to you job, either; not everyone has a job. It is a good reason for health care to be provided to everyone by the government.

Well, yes, that would be preferable.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:04 AM on November 27 [1 favorite +] [!]


Seriously? the government is not providing healthcare here. They are facilitating the individual purchase of insurance. They are at the same time mandating that employers who provide a healthcare benefit purchase a product dictated by the government, sort of a one size fits all... previously if HL and other companies wanted to provide a healthcare benefit that excluded "abortion" pills, then that was their right, and it was the right of an employee to choose to not work for them. Now the issue here is not what type of plan or coverage, the issue here is the mandate to provide a specific product.
posted by Gungho at 8:27 AM on November 27, 2013


The tying of health insurance to employment isn't some conservative/corporate plot

That of course isn't anything like what I said. Because health insurance is being increasingly used as a political tool by the right doesn't mean someone planned it as such from the beginning.
posted by aught at 8:29 AM on November 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Gungho: "Now the issue here is not what type of plan or coverage, the issue here is the mandate to provide a specific product."

The product is heavily subsidized by the government through the single largest tax expenditure in our tax code, so the government gets to have a say in what that benefit provides.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:30 AM on November 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


If Otto von Bismarck thought universal healthcare was necessary, then its a conservative thing.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:30 AM on November 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


the issue here is the mandate to provide a specific product.

To mandate a non-substandard health insurance plan, specifically.
posted by aught at 8:30 AM on November 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Count me among those who really is bitter we didn't get Single Payer.
I have had it with corporations for a HELL of a long time now.

They ALWAYS want stuff that violates MY rights and MY conscience and when I worked there was bugger all I could do about it.

How come I don't get to sue? Oh, single, individual human being...
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 8:32 AM on November 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


To be fair, single-payer was never an achievable goal under the Obama administration. I still would have liked to see him make a public show of supporting it in an effort to move the debate further to the left, but there was no way the Mary Landrieus and Evan Bayhs of the Senate were going to allow single-payer to happen.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:33 AM on November 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can't read the WSJ piece but just from the title it seems like it's apples and oranges. If you neglect regular maintenance on your car and you end up with a seized engine or a blown head gasket, your insurance doesn't care -- it only pays for damage done in accidents. A more relevant example would be requiring car insurance companies to pay for periodic courses in defensive driving.

The ACA is not asking your life insurance company to pay for preventive care (although even that would be closer than the car example), it is requiring your health insurance to pay for preventative care because studies have show that that will over all reduce the incidence of more expensive health problems, thus in the end saving money for the insurance companies, increasing productivity to benefit society, and improving the quality of life for individuals. What is so horribly wrong with that?
posted by pbrim at 8:36 AM on November 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Nation: Birth Control Coverage: It’s the Misogyny, Stupid
The truth is that this is not about religious freedom, it’s about sexism, and a fear of women’s sexuality. When Sandra Fluke testified in favor for birth control coverage, she wasn’t criticized for trying to curtail religious freedom—she was called a ‘slut’ and a ‘prostitute’. When the FDA held up over-the-counter status of emergency contraception for years, it wasn’t because of the medication’s efficacy or potential health risks but because of a fear it would make girls promiscuous. The same thing happened when the HPV vaccine was being reviewed.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:40 AM on November 27, 2013 [26 favorites]


A more relevant example would be requiring car insurance companies to pay for periodic courses in defensive driving.

And in fact, many reasonable auto insurance plans offer discounts that more than offset the cost of taking such "preventative care"-analogous courses (mine, through State Farm, does).
posted by aught at 8:41 AM on November 27, 2013


It should be really simple: In civil society, your fist ends where my nose begins. If your religious beliefs interfere with my otherwise legal rights, then your religious beliefs need to take a back seat. Period. There is no other sane and workable system.

(It's insane that questions like "Can a pharmacist refuse to fill a birth-control prescription on religious grounds?". Insane. In this country, you are free to practice your religion. There is NO right to impose your religion on others.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:43 AM on November 27, 2013 [25 favorites]


Wait, what? The tying of health insurance to employment isn't some conservative/corporate plot, it was an accident of regulatory and tax policy.

Yeah, dsfan, I'm aware of that. But it's still kind of ridiculous and has had all kinds of (probably unanticipated) cascade effects that have made a real mess of things.

On another note, here's what I tell my tea-partying stepbrother about ACA: Look [tea-partying stepbrother], you know how you can tell that Obamacare isn't a government takeover of the healthcare system? Because I'd like that. I'd be a hell of a lot happier with it than I am right now. So just watch me. And when I start smiling, then you've got socialized medicine.
posted by Naberius at 8:43 AM on November 27, 2013 [13 favorites]


Catholic University Claims It Does Not Have To Allow Unions Because Religious Freedom

Ridiculously absurd when you consider that there have been numerous official Catholic doctrinal statements affirming that the Church believes union organization to be a fundamental human right completely consistent with scripture and has officially stated that union-busting is a mortal sin.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:45 AM on November 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


I thought that corporations with religious beliefs were called "churches." Has this changed substantially since the last time English was invented?
posted by wenestvedt at 8:48 AM on November 27, 2013 [16 favorites]


Yet another reason why I'm still furious the Obama administration didn't even try to pursue a Single-Payer health insurance structure instead of the fatally-compromised-from-the-start and written-by-conservatives ACA.

FWIW, there's a metric fuckton of wingnuts out there that think single-payer has been the goal all along. The botched web site roll out is just more confirmation of Obama's socialist plan. Maybe that idea will stick around long enough to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Fingers crossed.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:49 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Catholic University Claims It Does Not Have To Allow Unions Because Religious Freedom

If you listen carefully, you may be able to hear the sound of John Paul II rolling in his grave.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:57 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


but there was no way the Mary Landrieus and Evan Bayhs of the Senate were going to allow single-payer to happen.

But that's okay because their more conservative stand on healthcare reform provided enough cover for them to easily win reelection in 2010 and keep their seats in Democratic control, right?
posted by RonButNotStupid at 8:59 AM on November 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think it's really unfortunate that the thing people are getting upset over, contraception, is being used as a way to ridicule the idea that someone cannot be forced to engage in something their religion tells them is morally wrong.

Because there are really interesting questions there. Should Quakers and the Amish be forced to pay national taxes that buy bombs and kill actual, living, breathing, children? If you pay money, are you morally responsible for what is done with it?

But these questions get erased, because contraception seems ridiculously normal to us. I think these people are so wrong, but if they really believe contraception is murder, why force them to do something they consider as awful as murder?
posted by corb at 9:02 AM on November 27, 2013


I hate to get all slippery slope, but by this logic, wouldn't they be able to refuse to provide pre-natal and delivery services for babies conceived out of wedlock? STI treatment?
posted by Ham Snadwich at 9:02 AM on November 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


because according the law and science, it's not murder.

i would rather my taxes not find wars, but those are considered legitimate legal things.

certainly it's way more nuanced than that, but that's the general idea.
posted by sio42 at 9:04 AM on November 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


RonButNotStupid: " But that's okay because their more conservative stand on healthcare reform provided enough cover for them to easily win reelection in 2010 and keep their seats in Democratic control, right?"

Well, Mary Landrieu's still around... Bayh retired, but he probably would have lost. In any event, your premise that they were against single payer simply to retain their seats seems rather misguided -- I fully believe that they actually didn't want single payer, not that they would be against it to save their jobs.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:06 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think these people are so wrong, but if they really believe contraception is murder, why force them to do something they consider as awful as murder?

They are perfectly welcome to dissolve their corporations if they do not wish to employ anyone in a manner consistent with the law. Nobody's stopping them.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:07 AM on November 27, 2013 [18 favorites]


I hate to get all slippery slope, but by this logic, wouldn't they be able to refuse to provide pre-natal and delivery services for babies conceived out of wedlock? STI treatment?

By this logic (especially if SCOTUS rules in favor of HL and doesn't make it a narrowly-focused ruling) one could be free to expand "religious freedom" to damn near anything. Paying income tax, for instance.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:07 AM on November 27, 2013


This was a while ago, but I wanted to respond to jeather's comment that this is like the Bode Miller case. I'm not sure it is. All evidence there seems to point out that she left the state deliberately to find a friendly court, not out of personal preference over her body.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:07 AM on November 27, 2013


corb: " Because there are really interesting questions there.

Actually, they aren't that interesting. Let me show you:

Should Quakers and the Amish be forced to pay national taxes that buy bombs and kill actual, living, breathing, children?

Yes.

If you pay money, are you morally responsible for what is done with it?

No.

See how easy that was?
posted by tonycpsu at 9:07 AM on November 27, 2013 [20 favorites]


Gungho: "Now the issue here is not what type of plan or coverage, the issue here is the mandate to provide a specific product."

The product is heavily subsidized by the government through the single largest tax expenditure in our tax code, so the government gets to have a say in what that benefit provides.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:30 AM on November 27 [3 favorites +] [!]


Not the plan provided by Hobby lobby, nor any other corporation. The near billion dollar cost (so far) has been expended just to put in place a system where people who don't have insurance offered through their employer can purchase insurance. Yes, some of these people will be subsidized, but the employees of Hobby Lobby are not.
posted by Gungho at 9:08 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gungho: "Not the plan provided by Hobby lobby, nor any other corporation. The near billion dollar cost (so far) has been expended just to put in place a system where people who don't have insurance offered through their employer can purchase insurance. Yes, some of these people will be subsidized, but the employees of Hobby Lobby are not."

You clearly don't understand the employer insurance market. All employer-provided plans are tax exempt, which is a subsidy to the employers and employees who participate in that market.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:09 AM on November 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


some of these people will be subsidized, but the employees of Hobby Lobby are not

Health insurance for Hobby Lobby employees isn't paid for with pre-tax dollars?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:11 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Allow corporations/organizations to exclude whatever they want, at no discount. However, allow the policy holder the option of adding whatever was left out, for $1 a year.
posted by garisimo at 9:11 AM on November 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Because there are really interesting questions there. Should Quakers and the Amish be forced to pay national taxes that buy bombs and kill actual, living, breathing, children? If you pay money, are you morally responsible for what is done with it?

I have a friend who is a small business owner and devout Catholic. He feels that having to pay for his employees contraception is wrong.

But if he pays them in money that they then use to buy contraception then that is exactly what has happened - he has enabled them to purchase contraception.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:14 AM on November 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


Failing to take money is not a subsidy, in the same sense that if a mugger stops me on the street and chooses to only take half my money,he hasn't actually given me a dime.
posted by corb at 9:15 AM on November 27, 2013


Money comes from the government and is backed by the national wealth. By taking and using money at all you are accepting money from the government. It is literally the government's money from the get-go. It even says so on the bills.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:17 AM on November 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


corb: "Failing to take money is not a subsidy, in the same sense that if a mugger stops me on the street and chooses to only take half my money,he hasn't actually given me a dime."

Tax expenditures are spending financed through the tax code. You don't get to change the definition of this because you believe that all taxation is theft.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:17 AM on November 27, 2013 [16 favorites]


I think it's really unfortunate that the thing people are getting upset over, contraception, is being used as a way to ridicule the idea that someone cannot be forced to engage in something their religion tells them is morally wrong. Because there are really interesting questions there.

There are, but John Locke basically hit this one out of the park in 1689, so they've been a lot less interesting since then.

Laws that single out religious belief or behavior, or laws that do not apply to everyone, are illegitimate. So a law banning the sacrifice of lambs, when the killing of lambs is otherwise legal, would be illegitimate.

Facially neutral laws that apply to everyone can legitimately be applied to people with religious objections to the law. So a law banning the killing of lambs altogether would be fine, and could legitimately be applied to people whose religions require the sacrifice of lambs.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:17 AM on November 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


If the Supremes end up greenlighting these corporations, since the corporations are people, or are owned by people or whatever, can we just assume that you can ship your unwanted child to the CEO?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:17 AM on November 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Failing to take money is not a subsidy, in the same sense that if a mugger stops me on the street and chooses to only take half my money,he hasn't actually given me a dime.

So when I ride the subway, and I pay $3 instead of the $4 it actually costs, there's no subsidy involved?

By that definition, there is no such thing as a subsidy, ever.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:20 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


tonycpsu: Well, Mary Landrieu's still around... Bayh retired, but he probably would have lost.

Sorry, I had confused Mary Landrieu with Blanche Lincoln.

In any event, your premise that they were against single payer simply to retain their seats seems rather misguided -- I fully believe that they actually didn't want single payer, not that they would be against it to save their jobs.

That's certainly a possibility. My premise is probably incorrect, but it's more comfortable for me to think the Affordable Care Act we got was a careful and pragmatic expenditure of political capital and not what Democrats actually wanted all along.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 9:22 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fundy Cousin: Hobby Lobby is well within their right to refuse to pay for contraception.

Me: Would you or your wife have a problem working for a devout Muslim?

FC: No, of course not. I believe in freedom of religion, which is why I support Hobby Lobby in this.

Me: So if the business your wife works for was purchased by a devout Muslim, you're saying the new owner has the right to refuse to pay for her health insurance if she does not use a female physician since that would be in violation of his religious beliefs. Right?

FC: Ummmmm...
posted by zakur at 9:25 AM on November 27, 2013 [23 favorites]


RonButNotStupid: "but it's more comfortable for me to think the the Affordable Care Act we got was a careful and pragmatic expenditure of political capital and not what Democrats actually wanted all along."

I still have to quibble with this, because "Democrats" aren't a monolithic entity. The Senate is a clusterfuck of anti-majoritarian rule, so the fact that Democrat-in-name-only types were able to put the brakes on the public option (and foreclose on any possibility of talking single-payer) has nothing to do with what "Democrats" in general think.

My guess is, if we had a truly representative system, without the filibuster, we could have gotten a public option, which would have eventually tended toward a single-payer system when people saw that the profit motive doesn't do anything good for health insurance.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:26 AM on November 27, 2013


> "... the issue here is the mandate to provide a specific product."

Personally, I hate that the government mandates that my corporation must pay my workers in "money" which is accepted by "banks" and "other businesses". That is a product my corporation provides my workers, and I don't see why government regulations should enter into it. These so-called "minimum wage laws" interfere with my corporation's right to exercise its religious freedom by paying my workers nonmoney, since my corporation's religion teaches that money is the root of all evil. My corporation would prefer to pay with the tears of orphaned children instead, as those are innocent and pure.

Who is this government to impose these ludicrous rules on private transactions?!
posted by kyrademon at 9:30 AM on November 27, 2013 [11 favorites]


I still have to quibble with this, because "Democrats" aren't a monolithic entity.

That's very true.

My guess is, if we had a truly representative system, without the filibuster, we could have gotten a public option, which would have eventually tended toward a single-payer system when people saw that the profit motive doesn't do anything good for health insurance.

At least it looks like Vermont will soon have single-payer, and hopefully it can be held up as an example for other states to follow.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 9:31 AM on November 27, 2013


If Otto von Bismarck thought universal healthcare was necessary, then its a conservative thing.

Even von Hayek (at least in _The_Road_to_Serfdom_) thought that the government had an obvious role in healthcare.
posted by Slothrup at 9:32 AM on November 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Zakur that is amazing.

i hope i get to use that.

but at the same time i don't have to.
posted by sio42 at 9:33 AM on November 27, 2013


This was a while ago, but I wanted to respond to jeather's comment that this is like the Bode Miller case. I'm not sure it is. All evidence there seems to point out that she left the state deliberately to find a friendly court, not out of personal preference over her body.

And she just happened to find a friendly court in a city with an Ivy league university that had programs for veterans.

This "how dare a woman do [x]!" stuff is all related -- she shouldn't be allowed to move cross country while pregnant because what about the father's feelings, she shouldn't be allowed to get contraceptives because what about the corporation's feelings, etc etc.
posted by jeather at 9:34 AM on November 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


To be fair, single-payer was never an achievable goal under the Obama administration. I still would have liked to see him make a public show of supporting it in an effort to move the debate further to the left, but there was no way the Mary Landrieus and Evan Bayhs of the Senate were going to allow single-payer to happen.

Should have nuked the filibuster completely as soon as Obama was inaugurated, but that is 20/20 hindsight for the most part.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:34 AM on November 27, 2013


RonButNotStupid: " At least it looks like Vermont will soon have one, and hopefully it can be held up as an example for other states to follow."

Yeah, and it's been really fun to watch Kentucky -- Kentucky! -- leading the way in ACA enrollments. Democratic governor of a red state shows some sack, expands Medicaid, gets competent people to run the exchanges, and what do you know, people are signing up in droves.

Meanwhile, poor ol' bright blue Oregon partners with Cisco, their exchange site eats it, and nobody signs up. *sadface*
posted by tonycpsu at 9:35 AM on November 27, 2013


It sounds like your religious beliefs conflict with owning a corporation, there, Hobby Lobby. You're free to own a corporation if you obey the rules just like everybody's free to own a car if they obey the rules, and if your religion has a problem with the rules, then that's between you and your religion and your desire to own the thing you want.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:36 AM on November 27, 2013 [20 favorites]


Yeah, once again I'm left wondering why we're culturally just fine with telling individual people that if they don't like the rules their job requires them to follow they should just go get another job, but if the person is a corporation, well, that's special, and they shouldn't have to choose between following the rules and being a corporation.
posted by rtha at 9:45 AM on November 27, 2013 [36 favorites]


if an employer cannot force you to wear religious artifacts, like a hijab or a crucifix, nor force you to actively participate in prayer, nor discriminate against you for doing those things, why is this allowed at all?
posted by sio42 at 9:46 AM on November 27, 2013


well, not allowed, but being considered being allowed.
posted by sio42 at 9:46 AM on November 27, 2013


Should the Dallas-based Zion Oil & Gas company, whose founders and 30,000 shareholders believe that God has told them where to drill for oil, be able to disregard environmental laws on the grounds that God has appointed this particular location to be sacrificed? Could they seize property on God's say-so?
posted by vibrotronica at 9:52 AM on November 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


The basic premise once again seems to be that we should be grateful that the wonderful people who run Hobby Lobby deign to offer our society such valuable jobs in the first place, so we have to be extra careful to reinforce their position of power by giving their beliefs special weight in case they decide to take their talents elsewhere and deprive us of the expertise required to operate craft supply stores.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:53 AM on November 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


Should have nuked the filibuster completely as soon as Obama was inaugurated, but that is 20/20 hindsight for the most part.

There weren't enough Democratic votes in the Senate for a single-payer plan, regardless. The filibuster wouldn't have mattered. It wasn't going to be possible. Period.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:54 AM on November 27, 2013


Related Hobby Lobby religion incident (Personal disclaimer, this is my hometown, and my mother was one of the people who reported this incident)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:55 AM on November 27, 2013


These people are sacks of shit who hate women.

Now, who knows how the court will vote?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:03 AM on November 27, 2013


There weren't enough Democratic votes in the Senate for a single-payer plan, regardless.

Meh, in the hindsight fantasy world where they had the votes to nuke the filibuster at the time I figure they could get 50 Senators on board with single payer if Obama was behind it. This is admittedly a meaningless point right now though.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:06 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Despite the company’s religious bent, Carney also described an atmosphere of sexual harassment
"Despite"?
posted by Flunkie at 10:09 AM on November 27, 2013 [17 favorites]


But these questions get erased, because contraception seems ridiculously normal to us. I think these people are so wrong, but if they really believe contraception is murder, why force them to do something they consider as awful as murder?

Because contraception isn't murder by any legal definition and most religious ones?
posted by zombieflanders at 10:10 AM on November 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Rtha, in all seriousness, because people have differing ideas about the actions of soft power on people's lives. Soft power idea very similar in effect, but some believe that governmental use of soft power is more egregious than corporate soft power-in part, because you can be born with citizenship in a state, but as of yet, not citizenship or ownership by a corporation.
posted by corb at 10:14 AM on November 27, 2013


I definitely hate this idea that insurance is something that employers provide out of the goodness of their hearts. Nationalizing health care aside, this is why I would rather people bought it individually. But if it is going to be something you get through your employer, it should not be treated any differently than the rest of your wages. I have a right to free exercise, too. My religion does not tell me that I can't use birth control, the same way it doesn't tell me I can't drink whiskey, so you do not get to be the one to make those decisions about my life just because you're my boss and your religion says those things.

Religious freedom is not benefited in any fashion by allowing large corporations to have a say on what supposedly-immoral behavior their employees may not engage in on a religious basis. If you want to do that, open a church. If you want to run a business, stay out of my doctor's office and my bedroom.
posted by Sequence at 10:15 AM on November 27, 2013


Rtha, in all seriousness, because people have differing ideas about the actions of soft power on people's lives. Soft power idea very similar in effect, but some believe that governmental use of soft power is more egregious than corporate soft power-in part, because you can be born with citizenship in a state, but as of yet, not citizenship or ownership by a corporation.

Well, not since 1865.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:15 AM on November 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


Not without distinctions but worth noting: Employment Division v. Smith, in which the court determined that the states were permitted but not required to give religious exemptions to laws which contradicted religious practices.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:15 AM on November 27, 2013


Is anyone else unahppy with the description of other possible religious objections that corporations could raise if SCOTUS were to side with the companies in these cases are being as "slippery slope arguments?"

I'm generally not very fond of slippery slope logic, because most public policy slopes actually aren't that slippery -- we have generally shown ourselves quite able to regulate products and activities without banning them entirely, and if a certain law goes too far, we have generally been able to see that it's gone too far, and correct the situation.

Furthermore, when people make slippery slope arguments about other issues (e.g. abortion, gun control) it seems to me they're mostly talking about the perils of passing new laws that increase the effect of the original laws, not a situation like this, where ruling for the corporations would, without some kind of rule prescribing which religions can be exempt, create all of these other effects with no additional law being passed.

I feel like we need some other kind of vernacular to describe laws that cannot be possibly written in a way that doesn't privilege specific groups or create unintended consequences without additional laws being passed. I've seen "Pandora's box" used as a way to describe similar situations in the past -- maybe that's a better description of what's going on in this case?
posted by tonycpsu at 10:16 AM on November 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yes, to seek power that's vain and never granted
and for it to suffer hardship and endless pain:
this is to heave and strain to push uphill
a boulder, that still from the very top rolls back
and bounds and bounces down to the bare, broad field....

Pleasant it is, when over a great sea the winds trouble the waters, to gaze from shore upon another's great tribulation; not because any man's troubles are a delectable joy, but because to perceive you are free of them yourself is pleasant.

- Lucretius
posted by Twang at 10:17 AM on November 27, 2013


High court to hear contraception case
There are legal scholars who can speak to this with more authority than I can, but the notion that businesses have religious beliefs of their own is hard to take seriously. Indeed, as the 3rd Circuit explained over the summer, courts have “long recognized the distinction between the owners of a corporation and the corporation itself.” Ruling that “a for-profit corporation can engage in religious exercise” would “eviscerate the fundamental principle that a corporation is a legally distinct entity from its owners.”

Religious business owners – at Hobby Lobby and elsewhere – immediately argue in response that it’s unfair for the law to infringe on their spiritual values. But therein lies the point: the law makes requirements of businesses (who don’t have theological beliefs), not people (who do). No one is imposing a burden on the corporation’s executives personally, just the corporation.

If Hobby Lobby – and Conestoga, a cabinet-making company, which filed the same suit and is now a part of this case – prevail at the Supreme Court, there’s no reason to think corporations would have to stop at contraception. If a business owner’s personal religious beliefs oppose mental health care, then that, too, could be excluded from employees’ coverage. The same goes for HIV tests, vaccines, drug treatment, or literally any other area of health care a corporation’s owners deemed morally objectionable.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:21 AM on November 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


And I now see that tonycpsu beat me to Employment Division v. Smith by a mile.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:22 AM on November 27, 2013


if they really believe contraception is murder, why force them to do something they consider as awful as murder?
I honestly don't think there are a significant number of people who actually do really believe that abortion is murder. And yes, I'm aware that there are a whole hell of a lot of people who say that abortion is murder.

Next time that someone tells you abortion is murder, ask them well, let's say abortion is outlawed; what should happen to women who get abortions anyway? What should the legal penalty for violating that law be?

In any sane universe*, the answer to that question should be "they get charged with murder", or "accessory to murder", or whatever it is that you're charged with when you hire a hitman to murder someone. But, in my experience at least, these people don't say that. They are not sure that any charge at all should be placed. The poor woman has suffered enough due to her child being aborted. Maybe she should be given counseling.

*: I mean "sane except for the fact that abortion is outlawed"
posted by Flunkie at 10:23 AM on November 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


but some believe that governmental use of soft power is more egregious than corporate soft power-in part, because you can be born with citizenship in a state, but as of yet, not citizenship or ownership by a corporation.

Governing a society cannot and should not include taking into account nearly every possible viewpoint that the society's members have.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:23 AM on November 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


MisantropicPainforest: " Governing a society cannot and should not include taking into account nearly every possible viewpoint that the society's members have."

It can if you allow everyone to be their own nation state, which is where this absurd line of questioning is coming from. Anarcho-libertarianism is really just turtles sovereign citizenship all the way down.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:26 AM on November 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Affordable Care Act v. Supreme Court, Round 2
Even if we assume the mandate conflicts with a sincere religious belief—and I'm inclined to think that courts should be highly deferential on this question—there must be a showing that the mandate "substantially" burdens this belief. For reasons I have previously discussed at length, this argument is remarkably weak. The mandate does not require anyone to use contraception or promote contraception—if that burden is "substantial," then the word has no meaning. Essentially, any regulation could be subject to constitutional challenge given a bare assertion of a religious conflict.

Of course, the libertarian implications of this argument are no accident. The chairman of Eden Foods, one of the companies that challenged the mandate (although their case was not taken by the Supreme Court), told the journalist Irin Carmon: “I don’t care if the federal government is telling me to buy my employees Jack Daniel’s or birth control. What gives them the right to tell me that I have to do that? That’s my issue, that’s what I object to, and that’s the beginning and end of the story." The fact that the legal theory being used to challenge the mandate would provide a license for federal judges to arbitrarily rule any regulation they don't like inapplicable is more of a feature than a bug for the challengers. But when Congress passed RFRA it did not intend to subject federal regulations to Ayn Rand's philosophical commitments.

Needless to say, it's not just economic libertarianism that caused the otherwise inexplicable focus on birth control, either. A footnote in a brief responding to Carmon mention that the company did not challenge the accuracy of her reporting but did note that her story appeared in an online forum that also discussed issues of human sexuality. So it's not just economic libertarianism—the challenge to the mandate is rooted in misogyny and puritanism as well. Employers are free to have reactionary views about economics and gender, but these beliefs are not protected by RFRA or the First Amendment's free-exercise clause when they conflict with valid state objectives.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:29 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Hi, we're from the Church of Walmart. Do you have a moment to talk about Walmartism, and what The Sam (always blessed be his name, always lowest be his prices, always) can do for you?"
posted by jason_steakums at 10:32 AM on November 27, 2013 [16 favorites]


Rtha, in all seriousness, because people have differing ideas about the actions of soft power on people's lives. Soft power idea very similar in effect, but some believe that governmental use of soft power is more egregious than corporate soft power-in part, because you can be born with citizenship in a state, but as of yet, not citizenship or ownership by a corporation.

I've been running through my head the impact of this situation on children. I have no idea if it is legally relevant, but it weirds me out that daughters on parent's plans who have no choice in coverage may be denied contraception by a corporation's religious beliefs.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:33 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do they also object to usury? Because that would be good times.
posted by srboisvert at 10:34 AM on November 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


the weird thing is they only oppose certain types of birth control because of where they believe life begins.

that right there is a science vs faith thing.

since we're not a theocracy....
posted by sio42 at 10:43 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


since we're not a theocracy....

yet.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:02 AM on November 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Rtha, in all seriousness, because people have differing ideas about the actions of soft power on people's lives. Soft power idea very similar in effect, but some believe that governmental use of soft power is more egregious than corporate soft power-in part, because you can be born with citizenship in a state, but as of yet, not citizenship or ownership by a corporation.

And in all seriousness, corporations that don't like the rules government applies to them are free to move to a country that has rules that are more in line with what they want to be able to do. They do this all the time. Just because some people have differing ideas about the actions or effects of soft power does not make all the ideas equal, nor is that an argument that those ideas should all be accommodated.

Hobby Lobby's particular take on Christianity is not the only take on Christianity out there, and the burden should be on them to show that their take is The One that should be followed, and not the interpretation that - for instance - rendering unto Caesar is the proper Christian thing to do.
posted by rtha at 11:03 AM on November 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


some of these people will be subsidized, but the employees of Hobby Lobby are not

Health insurance for Hobby Lobby employees isn't paid for with pre-tax dollars?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:11 PM on November 27 [+] [!]


In the context of the ACA the fact that employers and employees are incented to provide or purchase a health benefit with pre-tax dollars is not what I would call a subsidy. It's like the politician who derides a tax cut because the government would "lose revenue". The ACA on the other hand actually provides a subsidy to the individual by paying part or all of the cost for those who qualify.
posted by Gungho at 11:06 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The ACA on the other hand actually provides a subsidy to the individual by paying part or all of the cost for those who qualify.

Only on the individual market.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:07 AM on November 27, 2013


Gungho: "In the context of the ACA the fact that employers and employees are incented to provide or purchase a health benefit with pre-tax dollars is not what I would call a subsidy."

Do you own a home with a mortgage? Then I'd like to take away your interest deduction, because it's "not what I would call a subsidy."

Do you have a 401k/pension plan paid in pre-tax dollars? Then I'd like to take that away, because it's "not what I would call a subsidy."

Here's the rest of the top 10. Note that the employer health insurance deduction is the largest, at $212 billion.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:11 AM on November 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


I've been running through my head the impact of this situation on children. I have no idea if it is legally relevant, but it weirds me out that daughters on parent's plans who have no choice in coverage may be denied contraception by a corporation's religious beliefs.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:33 PM on November 27 [1 favorite +] [!]


The difference is that no one is mandating that they work for those companies. The government is mandating and dictating which elements comprise "healthcare". A free market will find its own level, with companies that offer better benefits attracting more people. What the ACA should have done is quite simple. If you don't have insurance or if you lose your insurance go ahead and sign up. Now, in order to be sure that employers don't dump millions of people into the exchanges, the government will not inhibit a free market and provide greater tax incentives for both the employer and employee. Instead what the ACA has done is encourage dumping, and in fact has enabled companies to do so through this one-year grace period for the employer mandate.
posted by Gungho at 11:17 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because there are really interesting questions there. Should Quakers and the Amish be forced to pay national taxes that buy bombs and kill actual, living, breathing, children? If you pay money, are you morally responsible for what is done with it?

But the problem is that courts have very consistently held that there's no religious exemption to paying your taxes, even though you may have quite legitimate religious objections to how the money will be used. Various groups of Quakers have made these types of arguments since the Revolutionary War, and while they've made a principled stand for their beliefs, they've generally lost. To do otherwise would turn the tax process into a shambles, allowing everyone to opt-out of funding parts of the government they don't agree with.

See also United States v. Lee, in which an Amish employer argued that having to pay Social Security taxes for his employees violated his religious freedom; the court was not persuaded and offered a conclusion rather applicable in this case too (emphasis added):
"...Congress and the courts have been sensitive to the needs flowing from the Free Exercise Clause, but every person cannot be shielded from all the burdens incident to exercising every aspect of the right to practice religious beliefs. When 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. Granting an exemption from social security taxes to an employer operates to impose the employer's religious faith on the employees."
posted by zachlipton at 11:18 AM on November 27, 2013 [18 favorites]


A free market will find its own level

Why does this even get brought up like it's a thing that exists in the real world the vast majority of us live in?
posted by rtha at 11:28 AM on November 27, 2013 [26 favorites]


A free market will find its own level, with companies that offer better benefits attracting more people

The free market isn't qualified to make sound health care choices, due to an asymmetry of information. Only medical experts are remotely qualified to guide health care purchasing decisions because medicine is too highly technical and specialized a field. Consumers will literally never have enough information to make the best informed health care decisions as would be required to preserve ordinary, healthy "free market" functioning, even if we accept the usual premises of the free market arguments.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:29 AM on November 27, 2013 [21 favorites]


The government is mandating and dictating which elements comprise "healthcare".

Yeah I don't see what the objection is, if the government is doing to mandate that employers provide their employees with healthcare then they are going to actually have some regulations as to what constitutes healthcare.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:29 AM on November 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


The difference is that no one is mandating that they work for those companies.

The daughters have no authority on that choice. The parents may be acting out of economic necessity. This sets up a situation where a parent may have no religious issue with contraception but is unable to afford to fund that medical decision because of the religious beliefs of a business entity? Denial of birth control because you had the bad luck to be born into a family stuck in the wrong corporate religious denomination? How can that be viewed as anything but weird and dystopian?
posted by Drinky Die at 11:40 AM on November 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


rtha: " Why does this even get brought up like it's a thing that exists in the real world the vast majority of us live in?"

And, not to belabor the point, but the healthcare market is an especially not-at-all-free market in large part because of the taxpayer subsidy for the employer-based plans. This was the reason for the so-called "Cadillac tax" provision of the ACA, as the employer and employee, acting in their rational self-interest, decided to take advantage of the fact that compensation in the form of a high-cost healthcare plan was cheaper than equivalent compensation in the form of cash.

I personally think the right answer is to undo the employer plan subsidy instead, but you can't start with the premise that the current market for health insurance was anything resembling "free" prior to the ACA, and you also can't ignore that many provisions are serving to level the playing field so that it's more of a free market (leaving aside the question of whether that's a good thing or not.)
posted by tonycpsu at 11:41 AM on November 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Now, who knows how the court will vote?

Scalia, Alito, Roberts, and Thomas are going to vote that RFRA means that the federal government has to let corporations follow their "religious beliefs" whenever that leads to outcomes that conservatives like. But that RFRA doesn't require that the federal government has to let corporations follow their "religious beliefs" to liberal outcomes.

Because those four men, added together, have all the integrity of a pit viper.

I know, I know, don't insult pit vipers.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:43 AM on November 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I honestly don't think there are a significant number of people who actually do really believe that abortion is murder. And yes, I'm aware that there are a whole hell of a lot of people who say that abortion is murder.

Next time that someone tells you abortion is murder, ask them well, let's say abortion is outlawed; what should happen to women who get abortions anyway? What should the legal penalty for violating that law be?

In any sane universe*, the answer to that question should be "they get charged with murder", or "accessory to murder", or whatever it is that you're charged with when you hire a hitman to murder someone. But, in my experience at least, these people don't say that. They are not sure that any charge at all should be placed. The poor woman has suffered enough due to her child being aborted. Maybe she should be given counseling.


On the other hand, most of the lefties I know think that the anti-abortion movement is animated from a desire to "punish the sluts" or from anti-woman bias. You are right that most anti-abortion protestors don't seem to want to charge women with murder or put them in jail. They typically want abortion outlawed, but won't support significant penalties. So if they really want to punish the sluts, they are doing a pretty sucky job of it.

The truth, from what I see, is usually that these people are deeply, deeply convinced that abortion is murder, or something basically equivalent to murder. They grieve over the millions of lives lost through abortion. Why someone would think that seems awfully clear to me, and I get a little frustrated with my friends who continue to act like it's impossible for religious people to sincerely believe that embryos have moral claims and deserve protection. And it is because they are animated primarily by the desire to save lives that they haven't thought past banning abortion. Since ending abortion, not punishing women, is the goal, it makes sense that many of them don't really have strong opinions about what the punishment for violating anti-abortion law should be--or even have opinions you consider contradictory. Perhaps they realize that many people sincerely don't consider abortion murder, so although they want it banned they want minimal or zero punishment because they know this is a contentious issue.

Saying that something should be illegal because it ends a human life (but with minimal punishment because other people engage in this activity with clean consciences) is a sensible enough position. It is tedious to have people insist that religious conservatives don't really think abortion ends a life unless they want women thrown in prison as well. Surely I am not the only person around here who has spent enough time with fundamentalists to know that they really believe what they say they believe.

[For the record, I'm morally anti-abortion in many instances, but believe it must remain legal and accessible for others. Some people probably find that contradictory as well.]
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:47 AM on November 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


On the other hand, most of the lefties I know think that the anti-abortion movement is animated from a desire to "punish the sluts" or from anti-woman bias.

Uh, Virginia has a policy whereby a woman was to be forcibly vaginally penetrated as a medically unnecessary procedure that was mandated to occur before they were to have an abortion. Tell me that was a result of sincere care for the fetus and not from outright hatred of women.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:54 AM on November 27, 2013 [30 favorites]


Only medical experts are remotely qualified to guide health care purchasing decisions because medicine is too highly technical and specialized a field.

But not so technical that an government bureauocrat can figure it out for us?

The difference is that no one is mandating that they work for those companies.
The daughters have no authority on that choice.


Neither do they have a choice which religion they are brought up in. Christian Scientist parents have been sued on behalf of their children for failure to provide medical care...and lost! I will grant you that not everyone is capable of such fine tuned job selection, but companies that offer a benefit should be free to dictate what it is. Next thing you'll want the government to mandate two weeks paid vacation!
posted by Gungho at 11:55 AM on November 27, 2013


Next thing you'll want the government to mandate two weeks paid vacation!'

THE HORROR!

And after that, they'll mandate that you can't be fired if your a homo or black or if you get SICK they'll make you WORK WITH NO TIME OFF!

Better move to Somalia, land of the free!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:56 AM on November 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


Is it a real religion if its only adherents are corporations?
posted by jeffburdges at 11:56 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bleh. Someone who supposedly believes "this is murder, but not the kind of murder that the cops have to get involved with" isn't being truthful with themselves. I don't doubt that people genuinely believe it's a tragedy; what I doubt is their claims that they believe it is murder.

Also, I'd bet that there are a significant number of people who actually would say "they should be charged with murder" if they were first primed with the additional information that the woman was black and from the inner city.
posted by Flunkie at 11:56 AM on November 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Gungho: "but companies that offer a benefit should be free to dictate what it is.

I'm a devout liberal, and I would be okay with that, as long as they're willing to give back their tax subsidy, and as long as we have a fair individual insurance market that people can rely on, and one that isn't disadvantaged by the fact that the employer market has this subsidy.

Next thing you'll want the government to mandate two weeks paid vacation!

Make it six and we have a deal.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:57 AM on November 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


But not so technical that an government bureauocrat can figure it out for us?

And if the law was made entirely by bureaucrats with no regard to decades of medical expertise and the input of medical experts, that would be a great point.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:01 PM on November 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


But not so technical that an government bureauocrat can figure it out for us?

Yes, because the ACA law literally gives "an government bureauocrat [sic]" authority over the decisions of licensed medical experts. Just one, in fact (I think her name is Edna, and of course she's one of those mouthy West Coast liberals). Unlike previous health insurance products which, because they did not have bureauocrats running them, not only allowed patients to make all their medical choices without restriction but also magically filled their heads with decades worth of medical training so they could be sure they weren't being taken for rubes.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:06 PM on November 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yes, this is chilling. If corporations can have religious beliefs, then can they prohibit women for working, or performing certain types of work? IANAL, but everything I know I know about Citizens United - corporations being granted civil rights - is wrong as wrong can be. I feel like my country is being chipped away at, hacked away at, and what's being sculpted is rather horrid.
posted by theora55 at 12:07 PM on November 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yes, because the ACA law literally gives "an government bureauocrat [sic]" authority over the decisions of licensed medical experts. Just one, in fact (I think her name is Edna, and of course she's one of those mouthy West Coast liberals). Unlike previous health insurance products which, because they did not have bureauocrats running them, not only allowed patients to make all their medical choices without restriction but also magically filled their heads with decades worth of medical training so they could be sure they weren't being taken for rubes.
posted by saulgoodman at 3:06 PM on November 27 [+] [!]


First off I'd like to see you try and spell beaureaurocrat. Secondly The original HMOs and many subsequent insurance providers were founded and managed by groups of doctors. I will be the last person to say that insurance companies are looking out for me, but I'll be the first to say that The ACA is a bumbling mess of a laws that attempts too much. The government cannot dictate what a private individual or corporation must buy. And certainly cannot due it through pain of penalty and fines.
posted by Gungho at 12:25 PM on November 27, 2013


Neither do they have a choice which religion they are brought up in. Christian Scientist parents have been sued on behalf of their children for failure to provide medical care...and lost!

Personally, I consider this a bad thing. Just a traditional bad thing so we don't really think about it. I see no possible justifiable reason to expand the right to deny minors freedom of religious expression from just the parents and on to corporations as well.

Corporations aren't our parents and they aren't our Church.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:30 PM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The government cannot dictate what a private individual or corporation must buy. And certainly cannot due it through pain of penalty and fines.

I think you'll find that it can do exactly that.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:32 PM on November 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


The difference is that no one is mandating that they work for those companies. The government is mandating and dictating which elements comprise "healthcare". A free market will find its own level, with companies that offer better benefits attracting more people. What the ACA should have done is quite simple. If you don't have insurance or if you lose your insurance go ahead and sign up.

Just like the government dictates which elements comprise "car insurance" or "workers compensation insurance" or "minimum wage" or "retirement plan" or "toxic waste you may not dump into the river?" The government, through the medical boards it has blessed with state-granted power, also gets to define whether a doctor is providing "heathcare" or slashing up a patient in cold blood. That's what governments do, and insurance has always been a highly regulated market.

The free market hasn't found its own level in decades and you think it just will spontaneously do so on its own? Before the ACA, Low wage hourly jobs that were magnanimous enough to offer health insurance frequently had mini-med plans with absurdly low annual and lifetime benefit caps, complete exclusions for anything major and costly like cancer, waiting periods, and no coverage for preventive care. If your health insurance doesn't cover inpatient hospital care, it's simply not health insurance. People were paying into these plans and were shocked, shocked to find that they were still bankrupted by anything but the most minor medical problems. The free market simply had nothing to offer the average McDonald's worker, and I assure you that he wasn't passing up better job offers left and right.

The problem is that some level of health care is a basic human need. Ideally that need is met worldwide, for everyone, but at a minimum, let's try to meet more of that need for more people here, in one of the wealthiest nations in the world. People who need "better" health benefits do not necessarily have the option of obtaining a new job that offers them. The idea is to set a minimum standard for what constitutes acceptable health insurance, which includes treating things like cancer and mental illnesses, covering such modern medical wonders as hospitalization or vaccines, not having caps that prevent the plan from actually paying for anything more expensive than two stitches a year, and yes, contraception (28 states already require prescription drug plans to cover contraception on equal terms with other drugs, so this is hardly novel territory).

And for your plan to work, the government has to set that minimum standard for health insurance. As you say, "if you don't have insurance or if you lose your insurance go ahead and sign up." Well, how do you define "insurance?" Somebody has to say what constitutes "insurance."
posted by zachlipton at 12:33 PM on November 27, 2013 [19 favorites]


But not so technical that an government bureauocrat can figure it out for us?

Bureaucrat. The spell check in my browser in my browser gives it a little red underline squiggle when it's misspelled, and if I hold-click it shows me the correct spelling.

Anyway. "Original" HMOs with doctors in charge are a long-ago and far-away near-fairy tale at this point, and insurance companies have been run according to what shareholders want (yes, even the "non-profit" ones, like Anthem here in California, whose parent company is a for-profit) and what its doctors say is best for patients for a very long time. You think those pre-ACA insurance companies were dropping their heavy users out of concern for those users? Anthem sure as shit didn't get in trouble with the CA state insurance commissioner (a lot) for abruptly changing plans, dropping plans, and raising rates on its individual market clients on the advice of the doctors who serviced those patients.
posted by rtha at 12:33 PM on November 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


The government cannot dictate what a private individual or corporation must buy

Why can't they?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:38 PM on November 27, 2013


Yes, the government can do that. It can also send in big groups of people with guns to kill people who may or may not have done anything to deserve it. The government has lots of power. One might even go so far as to say it has sovereign power (if you'll permit me such an indulgence). Now, it might be fair to say the state shouldn't have those powers, but then, I don't see why when entities like corporations that derive all their authority from the state's authority have had those powers for a long time now.

Besides, you're ignoring the fact that the issue here is not with ACA or the medical profession, but with the employers. Those same HMOs you describe as having been made up of medical professionals are still the ones providing insurance under ACA. It isn't one of them or any other medical authority here claiming that birth control is medically unnecessary.

This case concerns a private corporation that most certainly is not a medical authority making medical judgments. So how are your arguments relevant in this case exactly?
posted by saulgoodman at 12:39 PM on November 27, 2013 [13 favorites]


This case concerns a private corporation that most certainly is not a medical authority making medical judgments. So how are your arguments relevant in this case exactly?
posted by saulgoodman 20 minutes ago [4 favorites +]


No, the company is making a religious judgment. They are not denying reproductive healthcare, they are saying they shouldn't have to pay for or subsidize it if it goes against the company's religious beliefs (Yes, companies are people).
Whatever happened to the separation of church and state? God forbid there should be a nativity scene on the Common, because that means the Government loves and endorses only Christians...but let me decide that I don't want my company to subsidize abortion or birth control because my religion tells me it is wrong, then what? we have the government tell me how I profess my faith? You can't have it both ways.
posted by Gungho at 1:09 PM on November 27, 2013


1: Should Quakers and the Amish be forced to pay national taxes that buy bombs and kill actual, living, breathing, children?

Yes.

If you pay money, are you morally responsible for what is done with it?

No.

See how easy that was?


2: "When 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."

As others have pointed out, it's not actually that easy. Many of the arguments here still seem to be conflating issues of individual conscience with the issue of corporations.

There's a strong tradition on the American left of individual conscientious objection, stretching from Quakers to Thoreau to the world wars to MLK. This is a different question from the issue of corporations, although they are often conflated -- here, in the courts, and elsewhere. A democracy can compel you to support activities you consider evil, but it can't make you like it, and if you dislike it enough, it can be just to object and even refuse -- this is what civil disobedience is all about (see the recent Zinn thread for one of hundreds on this issue on Metafilter). The legal response is clear: the law says a person has to do it, so if you are an agent of the law, you should probably uphold that. But don't conflate what is expected to happen (the law and its agents crack down) with what is right -- the objector may, in fact, be right, and many have been.

Nor, regarding the individual, is it okay to say, as the court did in that second quote above: if you choose to enter into commercial activity "as a matter of choice," then you are bound by the statutory schemes regardless of your conscience. This is just bunk: in modern society, you no more have a choice about entering into commercial activity than you have a choice not to eat. What, if any, accommodation the law should give individual conscience remains a very hard question, but saying "well, you chose to enter society" has been a terrible rationale since Hobbes.

All of that is very different from the question of corporations. Corporations add a whole new layer, but make the question of individual conscience vs democracy much easier, since most reasonable people agree they can't have consciences, and unlike individual commercial activity -- which one cannot but enter into -- one can actually chose to not incorporate. But this is almost orthogonal to the question -- which people keep raising here -- of whether you have to go along with laws you don't like. You don't, morally speaking. But that's different from what corporations should be allowed to do.
posted by chortly at 1:16 PM on November 27, 2013


God forbid there should be a nativity scene on the Common, because that means the Government loves and endorses only Christians...but let me decide that I don't want my company to subsidize abortion or birth control because my religion tells me it is wrong, then what? we have the government tell me how I profess my faith? You can't have it both ways.

Actually you can, because the establishment clause forbids the government from favoring a religion, not from private entities. I thought this was well-known.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:27 PM on November 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


So do orthodox Jewish companies have to be circumcised to qualify?

This is ridiculous. Companies are not people. Even the court rulings that uphold their legal status as people are all very clear that companies are not actual people and that what the decisions intend to uphold is the legal fiction that companies are people so that certain other laws can be sensibly applied to them and they can be held legally responsible collectively as entities (all of which I nevertheless also object to because I believe it makes it too easy for personal liability to be dodged behind the shield of limited liability and corporate governance). Actual people believe things. Companies are fictions created and existing only within a framework of law.

As others have said, if you don't like it, assume all the liability personally and operate as a sole proprietorship.

But that's different from what corporations should be allowed to do.

Exactly. Because corporations don't exist at all outside of the framework of law that establishes them. They have no natural rights of their own (even stipulating the validity of natural rights arguments) and literally exist only under the legal authority of whatever state entity granted them charter.

we have the government tell me how I profess my faith? You can't have it both ways.

Is the government forcing the owners of hobby lobby to buy and use contraceptives? Is the government preventing the owners of hobby lobby personally from practicing their religion? No, it's not. It's preventing them from imposing their own religious views on others through a special, optional form of legal arrangement that exists only under the authority of the state. This is what separation of church and state looks like.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:29 PM on November 27, 2013 [24 favorites]


God forbid there should be a nativity scene on the Common, because that means the Government loves and endorses only Christians...but let me decide that I don't want my company to subsidize abortion or birth control because my religion tells me it is wrong, then what? we have the government tell me how I profess my faith? You can't have it both ways.

That's right; you can't have it both ways. You can't accept all the benefits you like as a business while disregarding the responsibilities you disagree with. We all must take the good with the bad, no? Any laws are totally pointless, otherwise. Agitate for change but, until then, do your required part. That's what separates adults from children.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:30 PM on November 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


> "Whatever happened to the separation of church and state?"

... How is that even relevant here? Do you actually believe that means the government may pass no laws which might end up violating someone's religious beliefs? Because it does not mean that at all, and thank goodness, or the local Cult of Kali would effectively have a license to murder you.

I see only two possibilities -- either you somehow do not understand this is a well with no bottom, or you do not care.

By a well with no bottom, I mean the logical conclusion of this argument is that corporations can simply violate any and all regulations whatsoever by claiming a religious exemption. They could violate civil, environmental, economic, and even criminal codes at will simply by saying, "My belief compels me so!"

But from your comment about mandatory two-week vacations, I suspect it is not that you don't know this, but that this is essentially the situation you want -- that you believe that all businesses should be effectively unregulated. That somehow the unicorn miracle of the mythical free market will keep employees from being exploited with no regulations at all, or else that exploitation is OK by you.

And if that is the case, your stance is, I'm sorry to say, pretty much ludicrous. We tried that a bit over a century ago and found that it led to what today we would consider nightmarish dystopia.
posted by kyrademon at 1:41 PM on November 27, 2013 [20 favorites]


They are not denying reproductive healthcare, they are saying they shouldn't have to pay for or subsidize it if it goes against the company's religious beliefs (Yes, companies are people).

If the employer is paying the employees with money, the employees can then use that money to purchase reproductive care - and, then the employer is subsidizing the purchase of reproductive care.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:54 PM on November 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Forcing an employee to obey or follow your religion is discrimination and already prohibited. Why are we even talking about this again?
posted by JakeEXTREME at 1:55 PM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe there's a workaround. When they discovered the anti-depressant Wellbutrin was helpful for people who wanted to quit smoking they just renamed it Zyban and -- ta da! -- a new smoking cessation aid was invented. Bad cramps? Relaxovum! Acne? Zittcerkle. Warning: Side effects may include 99% chance of not conceiving.

Spoiler from the future: They never do figure out what caused he steep rise in acne in women post-2013.
posted by Room 641-A at 2:22 PM on November 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Forcing an employee to obey or follow your religion is discrimination and already prohibited. Why are we even talking about this again?

Assuming the Supreme Court does the stupid thing, what does this do for state laws that forbid employers from firing employees for, say, refusing to fill birth control prescriptions?
posted by dirigibleman at 2:25 PM on November 27, 2013


They are not denying reproductive healthcare, they are saying they shouldn't have to pay for or subsidize it if it goes against the company's religious beliefs (Yes, companies are people).

What church does Hobby Lobby, the corporation, attend?
posted by dirigibleman at 2:26 PM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The arguments in favor of Hobby Lobby's position may be the stupidest I have read in some time.

My question, as always, to people who seem to hate our society and the people who comprise it...if you hate your fellow citizens so much, why the fuck do you even stick around here? There are any number of places around the world which would allow you to do all of things you wish would happen, and yet, here you stay.
posted by maxwelton at 2:39 PM on November 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


That's right; you can't have it both ways. You can't accept all the benefits you like as a business while disregarding the responsibilities you disagree with. We all must take the good with the bad, no? Any laws are totally pointless, otherwise. Agitate for change but, until then, do your required part. That's what separates adults from children.

Exactly. Corporations are legal structures we've conjured up out of thin air, and we've given them certain benefits because we believe that doing so promotes the economic welfare of society. You shouldn't get to take the benefits of being a corporation (like a different tax scheme, limited liability, getting to live forever) and insist on the rights historically reserved for individuals (e.g. voting, religious freedom, etc... and commercial speech has historically been treated differently for First Amendment purposes). Not operating a corporation or not hiring employees is a reasonable course of action if you cannot operate within the laws required to engage in these activities.

Since some notion of the afterlife, heaven/hell, eternal souls, etc... are a part of most major world religions, one has to ask how theology can adapt to corporations, which are generally created to last forever. Of course, a corporation can die, but unlike man, it almost never spends a moment contemplating or preparing for its death. For most corporations, to acknowledge death is to achieve it, as any perceived vulnerability will be immediately pounced upon by investors, lenders, competitors, vendors, and customers. Without ever accepting mortality, many of these belief systems break down in rather dramatic ways.

So how or why would a corporation practice atonement or the sacrament of confession? When the end times come, will the souls of all the dead corporations rise again and be reunited with their bodies? If so, will its employees still have to work for it in heaven (if they and it have been deemed righteous) or toil in corporate eternity in hell (if they and it have been damned)? And what happens if your company winds up in heaven but you're stuck down in hell, or the other way around? And will heaven really need or want a billion failed restaurants risen from the dead, along with a host of vacuum tube manufacturers, telegram deliverymen, or Circuit City? And don't even get me started on all the MLM schemes you'll have to deal with down in hell. Since we won't need doctors up in heaven, should all the medicine-related corporations that make it in convert to doing harp repair instead?
posted by zachlipton at 2:57 PM on November 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


Should Quakers and the Amish be forced to pay national taxes that buy bombs and kill actual, living, breathing, children?

Look, either return a portion of your service member salary to these hypothetical Quakers and Amish or stop pretending that you actually care about this in order to continue pushing your tedious agenda.
posted by elizardbits at 3:01 PM on November 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


"Because there are really interesting questions there. Should Quakers and the Amish be forced to pay national taxes that buy bombs and kill actual, living, breathing, children?"

Oh man did we all decide that Amish couldn't vote? I mean, I'd love to pay my taxes toward public transit and unicorn hugs, but I live in a messy representative democracy where about half the nation gleefully endorses politicians who compete to be the most bloodthirsty loons.

"If you pay money, are you morally responsible for what is done with it? "

To the extent you have the power to change what is done with it, and to the extent you have the ability to not pay the money. This is a handy rubric for deciding whether to boycott a company as well.

"A free market will find its own level, with companies that offer better benefits attracting more people"

Well, since we ran a giant experiment and found that to be make-believe peddled by hucksters who want to rip off the American people, how about we stop waiting for the free market fairy to wave their wand and give us all gumdrop suppositories.

Seriously, that's bafflingly naive at best, the sort of statement that is only marginally more respectable than an adult saying that Santa will bring healthcare at Christmas for all the good children.
posted by klangklangston at 3:04 PM on November 27, 2013 [16 favorites]


(Yes, companies are people)
They can be imprisoned? Given the death penalty? They can marry? Have children? Hold a passport? They have to register with selective service? When does a company reach the age of consent? It has sex? I as a person, may legally decide not to hire someone to clean my house because I may hold some reprehensible bigoted woldview, my company can not do the same. A company is an artificial entity created for a specific purpose.

Companies are not people for christ's sake, even pretending that is a valid position is grounds for ignoring every other thing one may say on the issue. You lose the discussion. A person who owns a company complies with ALL MANNER of laws they find objectionable. there is no right to own a company, you own a company you comply with the laws of the land. Don't like the fucking laws, don't own a company.
posted by edgeways at 3:06 PM on November 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


"They are not denying reproductive healthcare, they are saying they shouldn't have to pay for or subsidize it if it goes against the company's religious beliefs (Yes, companies are people). "

This is also bizarre bullshit. The entire point of creating a company, an artificial entity with personhood for the purpose of consenting to contracts, is to separate it from personal liability for the employees. A company literally cannot legally be its employees.

Holding that companies may be seriously imbued with religious beliefs makes as much sense as literally giving them the right to vote.
posted by klangklangston at 3:06 PM on November 27, 2013 [14 favorites]


Just so I have it straight, some people believe that they shouldn't be forced to do something in their job/company because their religion prohibits it? If that's the case, I wonder if they'd be cool with, say, a taxi driver refusing to take them somewhere because they were carrying alcohol (prohibited by the driver's religion)? Or refused to take them anywhere if they had their dog with them?

How about if they waited in line for 20 minutes at the grocery store, only to be turned away when they got to the front because the cashier refused to handle their pork products?

Because those things have actually happened. Except in these religious freedom cases, we were talking about Muslims. Any guesses as to what the overwhelming response of the public was?
posted by triggerfinger at 3:43 PM on November 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


and the common belief that contraceptives are a form of abortion. Seriously. A ton of religious fundies believe this.

It depends on the mechanism of contraception. Barrier methods, such as condoms, that prevent fertilization would not be deemed abortive. Methods that by design allow for conception but, for example, prevent implantation of a viable zygote in the uterus would be deemed abortifacient. This is why some religious believers will use condoms or diaphragms but not IUDs or hormonal birth control pills.
posted by Tanizaki at 3:59 PM on November 27, 2013


This is why some religious believers will use condoms or diaphragms but not IUDs or hormonal birth control pills.

. . . Christian religious believers.

In some sects of Judaism, for instance, the pill and IUDs are ok but condoms aren't.
posted by jeather at 4:06 PM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Meet in conference room A.

Heh. This a great euphemism on multiple levels.
posted by Riki tiki at 4:37 PM on November 27, 2013


Well, not since 1865.

It just occurred to me that if corporations are indeed people, then the owning of stock is prohibited under the thirteenth amendment.
posted by hydrophonic at 5:09 PM on November 27, 2013 [27 favorites]


It depends on the mechanism of contraception. Barrier methods, such as condoms, that prevent fertilization would not be deemed abortive. Methods that by design allow for conception but, for example, prevent implantation of a viable zygote in the uterus would be deemed abortifacient. This is why some religious believers will use condoms or diaphragms but not IUDs or hormonal birth control pills.

Going by this poorly thought-out standard, what's to prevent employers who are Jehovah's Witnesses to refuse to provide any insurance that could potentially require blood transfusions? And what's the justification for the millions of girls and women use birth control for uses unrelated to sexual activity or pregnancy?
posted by zombieflanders at 5:13 PM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The real problem is allowing corporations to cherry-pick which aspects of "personhood" they qualify for; it should be an all or nothing deal. Want religion? Ok, but we can also arrest you and send you to jail when you break the law.


...and confiscate your assets (hello BP!).
posted by goethean at 5:21 PM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Get real: covering contraception doesn't violate employers' religious freedom
On its face, it seems odd to even consider the question seriously. After all, no one is forcing the owners of the company to take contraception or purchase contraception. The belief in question – that certain types of contraception are "abortifacients" – is also far from scientific fact. Also, the company owners issue their employees a pay check and have no say over how the employees spend it; they have no say over the activities their employees participate in on a vacation day.

It's certainly not violating the company's religious freedom for an employee to use the money paid to them by the company for a whole series of things that the company owner may find religiously objectionable, including buying contraception. It's certainly not violating the company's religious freedom for an employee to use a company-issued vacation day to enjoy a whole series of things that the company owner may find religiously objectionable, including, say, a full-day contracepted sex-fest, a trip to Mecca or a pork barbecue.
So why is it a problem for employees to use their health insurance for the care they and their doctors agree upon?

The cases the supreme court will hear were brought under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which bars the government from "substantially burden[ing] a person's exercise of religion" unless that burden is justified by a "compelling reason". Free religious exercise is burdened when the government forces an individual to participate in activities that violate their religious beliefs, but not every infringement on religious beliefs is a substantial burden. As the ACLU points out in their amicus brief to the supreme court, the contraception law doesn't force the owners of the Hobby Lobby craft store to violate their own religious beliefs. It requires them to cover health insurance, which may subsidize someone else's activities that violate the Hobby Lobby owners' religious values – but again, the same could be said for issuing a pay check.
[...]
And don't be fooled; this is more about the current political tides than long-held religious values. The constitutional issues at play here aren't all that grey. But the supreme court's calculus is made more complex simply by virtue of the issue being attached to the controversial Affordable Care Act.

Notably, the Hobby Lobby used to have an employee insurance plan that covered the very same birth control methods it now claims violate its religious freedom. It wasn't until the GOP raised a stink about the contraception rules in Obama's healthcare legislation that the Hobby Lobby "re-examined" its insurance policies. Is the religious belief sincerely held? Probably. But it's as much political and cynical as it is faith-based.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:32 PM on November 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


Methods that by design allow for conception but, for example, prevent implantation of a viable zygote in the uterus would be deemed abortifacient.

Not that this will mean anything to at least 4 of the Justices, because science has never really got in their way so far, but this just means that they (and Hobby Lobby, and everybody else supporting these suits) are very likely doing this based on either bad science or lying through their teeth:
For years, scientists knew the pills, particularly Plan B, were highly effective in preventing pregnancy after unprotected sex but weren't exactly sure how they managed that. "It wasn't really clear whether it worked before ovulation or after ovulation," says Wood.

Scientists did know the drug worked primarily by preventing ovulation. It stops an egg from being released from a woman's ovary and thus prevents any chance of fertilization and pregnancy. But they also thought the drug might make it more difficult for a fertilized egg to implant in a woman's uterus.

Technically, that's not an abortion, says Wood.

"We know that about half of fertilized eggs never stick around. They just pass out of the woman's body," she says. "An abortifacient is something that interrupts an established pregnancy."

But people like Rudd worry that even if what the drugs do is not technically abortion, it's still objectionable if it happens after fertilization.

But it turns out, at least when it comes to Plan B, there is now fairly definitive research that shows the only way it works is by preventing ovulation, and therefore, fertilization.
[...]
Less, however, is known about ella, the other widely available emergency contraceptive. And that's where the controversy continues to rage.

"It kills embryos. And it kills embryos before they implant, and it kills embryos after they implant," says Donna Harrison, director of research and public policy for the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Harrison says the biggest problem with ella is that it's a chemical cousin of the abortion pill RU-486. "So at an equal dose of ella and RU-486, they cause equal actions," she says.

But NIH's Blithe, who worked to bring ella to market, says that's wrong. First of all, she says, a woman would never take ella and RU-486 in similar doses "unless they were trying to harm themselves."

But more importantly, while the drugs may be related, ella works much differently. "It's chemically similar [to RU-486], but it was designed to have stronger effects on the ovary and less effect on the endometrium," she says. RU-486 works in part by changing the lining of the uterus — the endometrium — to make it impossible for an early pregnancy to be sustained.

Blithe says studies have also shown that ella, like Plan B, doesn't prevent pregnancy if a woman has already ovulated. Women who took the drug after ovulation got pregnant at the same rate as those who took nothing at all. She says that strongly suggests it does not have any effect on blocking implantation.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:55 PM on November 27, 2013 [12 favorites]


It sounds like your religious beliefs conflict with owning a corporation, there, Hobby Lobby.

Matthew 6:24 - "“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."
posted by pyramid termite at 6:29 PM on November 27, 2013 [12 favorites]


This gives me a strong desire to time travel back to the fall of 2000 and scream at all the idiots then saying there's no difference between the two parties.

With Chief Justice Hillary Clinton and Justice Lessig rather than Alito and Roberts we're not having this conversation.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 7:03 PM on November 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


It just occurred to me that if corporations are indeed people, then the owning of stock is prohibited under the thirteenth amendment.

Since ownership of stock is not illegal in the United States, either your insight has not received sufficient publication, or you are wrong. Which do you believe to be more likely?

The 13th Amendment prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude. It has nothing to do with corporate personhood.
posted by Tanizaki at 8:45 PM on November 27, 2013


This graphic along with the text
Even if you have no children, “under Obamacare, you would still have to carry insurance that covers pediatric, maternity and newborn care even though you do not need it.
breezed through my tumblr today and it made me want to punch someone repeatedly. Well ya, that's why they call it Insurance and not Service; you buy it before you know you need it.
posted by Mitheral at 8:46 PM on November 27, 2013


Tanizaki: " The 13th Amendment prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude. It has nothing to do with corporate personhood."

Jeez, hydrophonic was obviously making a joke.

I bet you're really fun at parties.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:00 PM on November 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


Actually, Tanizaki, there's another option you haven't considered which is that the conservatives on the court thought of this and just didn't give a good goddamn, and as a believer in corporate personhood, I'd say you don't either. So since I care deeply about my corporate brothers and sisters, I say LET MY PERSONS GO! See what I did there? It's a play on the old Moses, umm... you know...


Also Chuck Heston!
I'm going now.
posted by evilDoug at 9:16 PM on November 27, 2013 [3 favorites]




Sorry, our new CEO follows the ancient Roman cult of Dionysus. Wine-soaked orgies are now mandatory every full moon. Meet in conference room A.

The annual Saturnalia party must be a great team-building event.
posted by homunculus at 1:21 PM on November 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Hobby Lobby's Tale
posted by ryoshu at 9:33 PM on November 29, 2013


But the problem is that courts have very consistently held that there's no religious exemption to paying your taxes, even though you may have quite legitimate religious objections to how the money will be used. Various groups of Quakers have made these types of arguments since the Revolutionary War, and while they've made a principled stand for their beliefs, they've generally lost. To do otherwise would turn the tax process into a shambles, allowing everyone to opt-out of funding parts of the government they don't agree with.

The courts have very consistently held this, but, not unlike many others, I happen to believe that it is morally wrong to force someone to pay money for something they are morally opposed to. Because the Quakers have lost does not mean that their fight is not righteous, and it doesn't mean that they aren't doing a good thing in challenging the law.

The state may have practical and pragmatic reasons for denying them their conscience (like the nightmare shambles that the tax process would become), but those are not reasons of conscience and morality.

If you believe that someone should have the right to religious protections in their own actions and the ability to have a religiously compliant establishment (I'm thinking of kosher eateries that prevent meat and milk from being blended, but I'm sure there are others), then it's not a long stretch to at least see the principle that might require corporations to fight things that violate their principles. It's not as popular a topic, because we as Americans have a love affair with the underdog, and it's hard to see multinational corporations as underdogs, but the principle is sound.

If anything, corporations should have more right to preserve principles, as if memory serves, some, at least, are required to provide those principles before incorporating. You need to describe what the things are that hold it together. When a 501c3 that I was closely associated with created their legal paperwork, the purpose and principles of the organization needed to be very clearly stated - something most people do not have to do.

Interestingly enough, the state itself tends to consider that paying money to other people to go and do immoral things for you is morally wrong (and legally punishable) in some contexts. It is illegal to procure a hit man, or knowingly provide the money for one. If I hire a hit man, and tell my cousin about it and he gives me money for that purpose, if it comes out, we will all go to jail. So the principle of the state isn't that money is value-free, either.

That's why I say there are interesting questions - because the state attempts to justify itself not by pragmatism "Look, this is just what we need for a functioning state, get over it" but on the basis of justness. And there is a great deal that is not just about forcing people to commit sins, which is why we try to avoid it in other areas (such as allowing for conscientious objection). Again - these things may in fact be needed for a functioning society, that people be required to serve all people even if their religion tells them not to. But that does not make it morally right or righteous, in the context where things that happen in this world are only a shadow of the world to come. There are people who do not and will not accept those obligations, and I wish them well in their fight, even if I disagree with them like hell. I cannot help but admire anyone who goes balls-to-the-wall for their convictions.
posted by corb at 8:25 AM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


As many people have pointed out in this and many other threads, the principle you're articulating, where anyone can object to any use of their money based solely on their own first principles, would destroy the government's ability to raise revenue. What you seem to be forgetting is that the country you live in has its own first principles, and one of them is the Congress's power to collect taxes to "provide for the common defen[s]e and general welfare of the United States".

Neither you nor Hobby Lobby is "Congress", so you don't get to decide what taxes you do and do not pay. This is not a debatable matter of Constitutional law. If you want to live in a country that has voluntary taxation, you are free to push for a Constitutional amendment that strikes the taxing and spending clause of the Constitution, and failing that, you are free to expatriate.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:50 AM on December 1, 2013


You are also free to challenge said law in the courts, which is really all that these companies have the egregious, shocking gall to do, and I'm honestly surprised by the outrage over. If you believe in our system of governance so much, why the problem with it being utilized as it was designed? Congress passes laws that they believe are feasible for the government, as they did. Other actors who are impacted by those laws have the ability to challenge them, and do - on charges of illegality and immorality alike. The Justices decide how internally consistent those laws are with the government's first principles, and issue a ruling saying the same. Justices and Congress alike are all subject to biases and pressures. This is not a weird strange bug, this is the system as it was designed.
posted by corb at 8:56 AM on December 1, 2013


Please show me any time where I have objected to judicial review. I am allowed to object to the legal reasoning used by the circuit court justices while also believing they are a legitimate part of our system that can and should be used by all parties who feel they've been wronged.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:07 AM on December 1, 2013


We can pick holes in Hobby Lobby's reasoning without challenging their right to go to court at all, which is what people in this thread have been doing.
posted by rtha at 9:51 AM on December 1, 2013


corb : "If you believe that someone should have the right to religious protections in their own actions and the ability to have a religiously compliant establishment (I'm thinking of kosher eateries that prevent meat and milk from being blended, but I'm sure there are others), then it's not a long stretch to at least see the principle that might require corporations to fight things that violate their principles."

Are you seriously suggesting that "an employer-provided health care program must meet minimum standards for what it covers" is remotely comparable to "the government could force kosher restaurants to serve cheeseburgers"?
posted by Lexica at 10:39 AM on December 1, 2013


"That's why I say there are interesting questions - because the state attempts to justify itself not by pragmatism "Look, this is just what we need for a functioning state, get over it" but on the basis of justness."

That's because the basis of "justness" is so obvious that ignoring it is bizarre: We have a government constituted of the people, by the people, for the people, and the people have, through their representatives, established contraception as a legitimate requirement for insurance plans. Everyone doesn't have to agree with that, and I know you're flattered by the libertarian argument well enough to overlook its incoherence, but it is a legitimate interest of the state and we have passed this law together. Conservatives took a shot at winning this through the election and failed.

And fundamentally, the idea that it is just to exempt this bit of fungible spending — which already has been jiggered by the administration, nervous about the wingnuts — ignores that it is fundamentally unjust for business owners to force their religion on their workers (unless they are at an explicitly religious organization). In your swooning lust for corporations, you have ignored the people that have no other power beyond the law to exercise their own religious freedom. Certainly, if someone doesn't want contraception they are free not to use it on their own.

"But that does not make it morally right or righteous, in the context where things that happen in this world are only a shadow of the world to come."

Yes, it does. It does make it morally right to preserve the federal government's ability to tax and administer regulations in the interest of all Americans — that fundamentally serves the interests of the vast majority of citizens. It is morally right for the government to provide for the common defense, it is morally right for the government to work toward the general welfare of the people. These are fundamental truths about representational government.

God, go back and read your Hobbes again.

"You are also free to challenge said law in the courts, which is really all that these companies have the egregious, shocking gall to do, and I'm honestly surprised by the outrage over."

They're floating disingenuous bullshit that's toxic to the republic. That's supposed to be accepted with open, smiling mouths?

"If you believe in our system of governance so much, why the problem with it being utilized as it was designed?"

Because the suit is disingenuous bullshit that hampers the ability of the government to do the job we've set for it?

"Congress passes laws that they believe are feasible for the government, as they did. Other actors who are impacted by those laws have the ability to challenge them, and do - on charges of illegality and immorality alike."

And the rest of us are free to decry it for the farce that it is, despite the naive and simplistic support from contrarian wool-gatherers.

"I cannot help but admire anyone who goes balls-to-the-wall for their convictions."

Sending Christmas cards to Hitler, Castro and Eric Rudolf this year, are we?
posted by klangklangston at 11:21 AM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are people who do not and will not accept those obligations, and I wish them well in their fight, even if I disagree with them like hell. I cannot help but admire anyone who goes balls-to-the-wall for their convictions.

Except the part where they had an employee plan that covered the exact same birth control for years before Obamacare, which nullifies any argument about their "convictions." Also, would you admire them for going balls-to-wall for not paying employees at all, as long as that was their "conviction?" Because that's where this logic path ends up.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:45 PM on December 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


They're floating disingenuous bullshit that's toxic to the republic. That's supposed to be accepted with open, smiling mouths?

Well, we do it every two to four years, why should they be an exception? I call this the "The World's Going To Burn Anyway" school of political thought in my darker moments.

Except the part where they had an employee plan that covered the exact same birth control for years before Obamacare, which nullifies any argument about their "convictions." Also, would you admire them for going balls-to-wall for not paying employees at all, as long as that was their "conviction?" Because that's where this logic path ends up.

I would admire them for their strong moral stance in not paying their employees, and also admire their employees' strong moral stance in refusing to work for them and picketing their business with giant signs saying "X Corporation Starves My Babies." I am nothing if not internally consistent, if occasionally impractical.

If they had an employee plan that covered the same birth control before, however then I'd be curious if they were paid to bring the suit in the first place. I don't think them being paid or not should necessarily negate the suit - I honestly wish that our country afforded people who have not "technically" been injured the right to challenge a law on the grounds that it is unjust, but it does not.
posted by corb at 6:13 PM on December 1, 2013


I would admire them for their strong moral stance in not paying their employees

Strong immoral stance.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:35 PM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would admire them for their strong moral stance in not paying their employees, and also admire their employees' strong moral stance in refusing to work for them and picketing their business with giant signs saying "X Corporation Starves My Babies."

As noted, that's not a particularly moral stance, not the least because it is contrary to the general social contract. And no, handwaving and saying "the social contract is immoral" is not a viable argument here.

I am nothing if not internally consistent, if occasionally impractical.

That's neither practical nor consistent, really. If we take this to the logical conclusion, you're saying the decision to set a precedent to not provide "immoral" health services is just as acceptable as a precedent not to provide any compensation to employees.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:46 PM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Exactly what is moral about not paying your employees for their labor, and what does that have to do with Hobby Lobby paying employer contributions to birth-control-covering health insurance pre-ACA but not wanting to now?
posted by rtha at 6:57 PM on December 1, 2013


Beats me, ask zombieflanders. I was agreeing that people can take moral stances on a variety of things whether or not we personally disagree with them - even weird ones like his example.
posted by corb at 7:04 PM on December 1, 2013


It reads like you are accepting of moral relativism to a clearly absurd degree and are facing down the same rabbit hole that is a theme of this thread, even if you are just speaking of admiring the courage rather than supporting the legal argument.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:09 PM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Beats me, ask zombieflanders. I was agreeing that people can take moral stances on a variety of things whether or not we personally disagree with them - even weird ones like his example.

This isn't about personal disagreements, something that has been explained to you multiple times. Nor is it "weird" to use the only consistent logical end point of your argument to point the flaws and the legal impacts of it. You are essentially saying that a finding for the plaintiffs here is an acceptable exercise of moral judgment in a court of law, which means that either no one is obligated to compensate employees for anything, or that there is a gaping flaw in the logic of said finding. This is not a demonstration of any sort of consistency, and as pointed out, is taking moral relativism to such a degree as to make this conversation useless. We're not here to discuss the potential economic freedoms inherent in either feudalism or slavery.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:50 PM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I would admire them for their strong moral stance in not paying their employees, and also admire their employees' strong moral stance in refusing to work for them and picketing their business with giant signs saying "X Corporation Starves My Babies." I am nothing if not internally consistent, if occasionally impractical. "

It's fine to believe that Santa brings toys to poor kids; it's infantile to set up a government based on that conviction.
posted by klangklangston at 10:26 PM on December 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's pretty easy to be internally consistent when you keep ducking the question of what would stop anyone from claiming a religious exemption to any law they don't like if the Court were to establish the precedent that the religious beliefs of a company's founders trumps laws that protect the laborers who work for that company.

I think what's needed is a little bit of external consistency, as in being able to reconcile one's ideology with how things actually work in the real world. If you don't think there's a straight line between letting employers nullify the effect of a law based on their religious objection and letting anyone nullify the effect of any law they don't like by simply claiming a religious objection (like Scalia's majority opinion in Employment Division v. Smith warned us about), then you need to have to lay out exactly what would keep one from leading to the other. Anyone who can't answer this question doesn't deserve to be listened to on this issue, because we're discussing matters of law, not philosophy.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:37 PM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Trey Gowdy’s contraception conspiracy (emphasis in original)
Even for House Republicans, this is a doozy. According to Gowdy, President Obama included contraception access as part of preventive care under federal law, but it was really just an elaborate ruse. Consider the logic here, as outlined by the far-right congressman:

Obama knew there would be a lawsuit filed by corporation owners pushing the limits of corporate personhood and religious liberty to unseen levels. And Obama knew an appellate court would ignore existing precedent that recognizes the distinction between owners’ religious beliefs and the business’ First Amendment rights. And Obama knew the Supreme Court would agree to hear the case. And Obama knows conservatives on the court will also ignore legal precedent and strike down this provision of the law.

The president’s crystal ball is just that good.

Why, pray tell, did Obama ignore his premonitions of the future? According to Trey Gowdy, it’s because of the president’s willingness to “deceive women,” in order to fool them into voting for him in 2012.

Remember, the South Carolina congressman seems to sincerely believe this, so much so that he pushed this argument on national television.

The far-right lawmaker, who is a lawyer by trade, added that this “is not even a close case.” It’s worth noting, however, that the 3rd Circuit already ruled in the exact opposite direction, explaining that courts have “long recognized the distinction between the owners of a corporation and the corporation itself.” Ruling that “a for-profit corporation can engage in religious exercise” would “eviscerate the fundamental principle that a corporation is a legally distinct entity from its owners.”

Gowdy must have missed that one. That or he ignored it because it doesn’t fit nicely into his conspiracy theory.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:50 PM on December 2, 2013


Dahlia Lithwick: Un-People
But corporations aren’t America’s only new people. States and the U.S. Congress are also attempting to expand the definition of personhood in a different direction: Anti-abortion activists are attempting to redefine “personhood” to include the potential personhood of a fertilized egg. If the so-called personhood bills and ballot initiatives across the country succeed, a day-old zygote would have the same legal status as a person, with sweeping implications for criminal law, reproductive rights, and access to birth control.

So pause for a moment with me to ponder what it means that some of the greatest civil rights battles of our era are being fought to extend personhood into the weeks prior to viability and the years after incorporation? What does it mean for actual human “personhood”—as well as for reproductive rights and corporate control—that, if the far right succeeds in stretching these two legal fictions to their illogical extremes, American “personhood” will begin at conception, diminish somewhat at birth, and regain its force upon incorporation?
posted by tonycpsu at 11:10 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]






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