SCOTUS To Hear Argument on Corporate ‘Religious Freedom’

Hobby Lobby

If someone told me, even a year ago, that the Supreme Court would consider if corporations practice a religion and with it, have a right to freedom of religion I wouldn’t have believed it. I would never have believed that the Supreme Court would seriously consider if a corporation has a right to pick and choose which laws it would follow based on its suddenly discovered religious sensitivities.

Yet, here we are in the 21st century and in an advanced country, in which the highest court of the land is deciding these very issues.

Hobby Lobby has its last chance to argue that it, as a corporation, practices a religion as an entity distinct from the family that runs the company.  Moreover, providing its female employees with insurance that includes certain kinds of birth control, (which Hobby Lobby wrongfully claims is “abortion”) is such an affront to the corporation’s religious beliefs that the executives who run it didn’t realize they were offending their God until the birth control mandate became a political issue.

Seriously, does anyone really believe that argument? Even if one lives in the alternate reality in which inanimate objects like corporations practice a religion, a ruling in Hobby Lobby’s favor amounts to saying under the pretense that a corporation practices a religion, bosses can impose that religion on their employees, and potentially entire communities.

It seems unthinkable that we’re having this debate in the 21st Century.  Even more unthinkable is that a decision in Hobby Lobby’s favor wouldn’t stop at questions about reproductive care.  It would amount to giving corporations control over many facets of the healthcare their employees, and for that matter, their employees’ children could have.  This twisted logic could be extended to tax law, labor standards, and anti-discrimination laws. For that matter, if armed with a ruling in Hobby Lobby’s favor, why wouldn’t Big Oil claim that they must engage in fracking under their religion or they won’t clean up oil spills because that violates their religion?  In reality, the ability of a corporation to deem itself exempt from any law on religious grounds is only limited by the imagination.

Interestingly, Hobby Lobby admits that its health insurance plan covered Plan B and Ella, two of the birth control methods the company now objects to. It was so important to the company’s religious sensitivities that HL’s executives didn’t notice until the birth control mandate became a political issue.

It’s bad enough that Hobby Lobby’s executives would like to impose their religious dogma on female employees with an argument that’s akin to claiming the earth is flat.  It’s obscene that the Supreme Court has to consider this bunk.  (To be fair, because there are mixed court rulings on this question, the Supreme Court does have to play mediator.) But that said, the ruling should be obvious. After all, what serious minded person truly believes that corporations practice a religion, let alone face a moral dilemma between offending their God and paying fines? After all, it isn’t like corporations think, feel or have souls.

Even Justice Antonin Scalia understands the implications of a favorable ruling in this case, at least he did in Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith.

Although a State would be “prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]” in violation of the Clause if it sought to ban the performance of (or abstention from) physical acts solely because of their religious motivation, the Clause does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a law that incidentally forbids (or requires) the performance of an act that his religious belief requires (or forbids) if the law is not specifically directed to religious practice and is otherwise constitutional as applied to those who engage in the specified act for nonreligious reasons.

In that case, the individuals actually did subscribe to a religion in which smoking peyote was part of the religious ritual. However, Oregon criminalized consumption of peyote and people convicted of that crime were denied unemployment insurance.  The plaintiffs argued they be exempt from the law on religious grounds.  Had the ruling gone in their favor, unlike in this case, those individuals would now have the power to impose their religious views on others.

However, the core principle here is that allowing a religious exemption on laws that are not specifically directed at a religious practice would lead to individuals, in this case, corporations picking and choosing which laws they choose to follow remains apt in the Hobby Lobby case.

Still, counting on facts, law and judicial consistency may be asking too much when lawyers can stand before the Supreme Court and claim that corporations practice a religion with a straight face.

Image US News


22 Replies to “SCOTUS To Hear Argument on Corporate ‘Religious Freedom’”

  1. In 2008 I lost my job and I was desperate. I got hired at this sh*thole of a company and lasted a month. HYPOCRITES. Sums it up in one word. The sign advertising their pay if false, that’s only if you work 40 hours, and guess what, nobody does. The break room was walls filled with Sarah Palin Posters and religious reading material that you are “encouraged” to take. Their entire stock of third world crap is intentionally marked up do it can be discounted so people think they’re getting a deal. The last straw was when they said I had to come in on a Sunday to stock. They always tell the public closing Sundays is so the employees can worship. I said no thanks and was promptly fired. Oh well.
    Religious company aside, their premise to to deny birth control because they don’t believe in abortion. Well birth control prevents abortion for sure.

  2. We have many laws that fly in the face of “religious freedoms” already on the books and fully embraced by the “morals” of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

    Do they object to the banning of bigamy? How about human (or for that matter, animal) sacrifice? Forced female circumcision? What about the many Old Testament archaic punishments.

    Picking and choosing which “religious morals” should not be forced upon others is neither unusual nor unconstitutional.

  3. Again, the insurance mandate to provide birth control to men (vasectomy) and women (BC pills, tubal ligation, etc,) employees has been on the books for over a decade!

    NO one said a peep during the former administration.

    You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to figure out why they are protesting now.

    It is shameful that this argument should even be under consideration for the SCOTUS now.

  4. Why should any prescription be different than any other. If it bothers a druggist he should get in another line of work, period. That is not doing your job. A Company should not know what prescription you get. It’s none of their business. They don’t let us have a say that they are dealing with China do they?

  5. These Fake Based misanthropes raised their ignorant heads and now instead of driving 1.5 miles to buy art supplies I now drive 47.0 miles to buy my supplies. Or just order from Dick Blick. And I let them know in a signed letter that I hand delivered to the store manager how I felt and how much in sales that they lost of mine and others who are protesting their forcing of THEIR beliefs on others. BOYCOTT HOBBY LOBBY!!!

  6. If Hobby Lobby is, as its brief alleges, “run…according to Biblical precepts,” why do they sell “I ♥︎ Vampires” t-shirts and sticker books about dinosaurs and models of ghosts and scrapbook trinkets for Halloween — all of which violate Biblical precepts? They couldn’t just be Christofascist hypocrites, could they?

  7. Exactly Prof.B in L.A.! What they REALLY mean is By Biblical principles When it Suits OUR agenda. BOYCOTT HOBBY LOBBY!!!

  8. To those who have shopped at Hobby Lobby, could some one tell me – do they sell Chinese merchandise, because China has a mandate to abort babies because of a law as to how many babies you can have, they also have receptacles where you can dump unwanted newborns.

    Hobby Lobby would never make a profit off this – or would they???????

  9. Green doesn’t think anything about buying his merchandise he sells at Hobby Lobby from China where they practice one child only and abortion is rampant but wants the SCOTUS to believe his company has religious beliefs. He worships the almighty dollar and being against Obama and ACA brings in business — although there are those of us who will never shop Hobby Lobby again and I am one of them. He has bought and paid for numerous OK politicians and probably the hard right from other states.

  10. “Seriously, does anyone really believe that argument?”

    I’ll go out on a limb and say even Hobby Lobby doesn’t believe their own argument.

    These people are a bunch of hypocrites.

  11. Yes, yes and yes again on your information. Thank you so much, I do wish, hope, pray 4 all the constituents of this great country of ours would educate ourselves and stop watching the mass media manipulation of bologna. Yes or no?

  12. It all goes back to this silly personhood nonsense. If “corporations are people my friends” then may I deduct my living expenses from my income taxes and protect my personal assets from lawsuits ? Otherwise, it’s “discrimination my friends”.

  13. This is the byproduct of SCOTUS ruling in favor of corporations were people I knew the flood gates of idiots and hustles were going to chime in! There are times I look at this country just shake my head, the rampant stupidity all for the quest of the all mighty dollar and licence for individuals own personal prejudices is mind numbing! Now hobby lobby wants religion rights as a BUILDING? so if they lose business and close the doors and the city sends out the demolition team, can the mayor be charged with a homicide?!!!! OY VEY!

  14. I blame the emos for supporting Nader. If he didn’t run Gore would have won and there would be no Roberts or Alito. But don’t worry they are getting ready for 2016 with this talk of Sanders making a independent run

  15. I agree. There is a great push from the far left to run Bernie Sanders as an Independent. Did they not learn from the lessons of the past ?

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