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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

On a corporation's "right" to freedom of religion....

Today, the Supreme Court heard Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (13-354); and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius (13-356), two cases relating to a corporation's right to exercise freedom of religion.  The cases relate to the contraception mandate (which I talked about extensively in early 2012) of the PPACA.  To sum the matters up briefly Hobby Lobby stores and Conestoga Wood Specialities Corp both claim that by when the PPACA requires that employers cover contraceptives (with allowances for churches and other religious institutions) the corporations right to freedom of religion is being violated.

This is patent and errant nonsense.  A corporation does not (and cannot) have freedom of religion.  While I agree that they should have freedom of speech (at least in and so far as political races) because the corporation should be able to advocate for or against laws that it does or does not like, there is no way that a corporation can exercise any sort of religious freedom.  Can a corporation go to church?  Can a corporation worship a deity?  Can a corporation hold to a certain set of beliefs?  The answer to all of these is obviously a resounding "NO!"  Therefore a corporation cannot have freedom of religion.

The situation here is similar to the one in Arizona a few weeks ago regarding SB 1062.  In both cases, people are trying to expand their "rights" to cover a situation that it was never meant to cover.  Then it was peoples supposed right to refuse service to whomever they wanted to on account of their "sincerely held religious beliefs".  Here it is a corporation's right to refuse to supply women with contraception because it violates the *OWNER'S* religious beliefs.  A major problem here is that the owner is then forcing their religious beliefs onto their employees.  The even bigger problem is that the businesses involved are both for-profit corporations, not religiously affiliated at all.  To extend the freedom of religion to cover this sort of business is to potentially release an avalanche of problems.  I am not a big believer in the "slippery slope" argument (in fact, I hate them), but I do want to ask a few questions.  If a owner can refuse to pay for contraceptives because of his/her religious beliefs, what else can they refuse to pay for?  Transfusions?  Transplants?  Any medical procedure?  Can they require only faith healers?  Need I go on?  Each of these is a distinct possibility given the reasoning being advanced by the companies.

Obviously, I will be writing more about this when the decision comes out in June (I think), but I wanted to get some thoughts out there.  I just hope the Supreme Court does the right thing and rejects this absurd extension of "rights" that is nothing more than trying to overturn the PPACA one bit ast a time.