Corporations Are People, My Friend, But Can They Have Religious Beliefs Too?

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Dang Apricot
Does Hobby Lobby Have Religious Beliefs?
Mitt Romney caught a lot of flak for saying "corporations are people, my friend" when responding to a heckler on the campaign trail last year. Many people -- mostly liberals -- were incensed, noting that this showed Romney's solicitude for big business over the "little guy."

Set aside the fact that this suspicion is probably true; people misunderstood what Romney was trying to say. This is because the law does recognize corporate personhoood -- they can sue and be sued (you can't sue you neighbor's dog, in contrast), and they do have some Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches of their property. So Romney was right, in his own ham-handed way.

Similarly, when the Supreme Court decided Citizens United (the campaign finance decision), liberals tended to attack the decision for the wrong reason: the issue, from an effects standpoint, was not that corporations have some free speech rights, it was that corruption/bribery was the only allowable basis to limit corporate speech (and unions' speech, as well). It's unexceptionable that the Constitution has something to say about the free speech rights of corporations -- the issue is how far we let those rights go.

And now the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is going to decide whether corporations can avoid the Obamacare provision requiring them to provide birth-control (and related services) to female employees when it violates the individual owners' religious beliefs.

Hobby Lobby, while a corporation, is family owned. And it is owned by Christians:

In Hobby Lobby's official statement of purpose, the Greens [the family who own Hobby Lobby] commit to "[h]onoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles."

The other cases -- they're "consolidated," in the jargon -- involve a small wood cabinet making company owned by Mennonites and the third involves another family owned corporation in Michigan whose owners are devout Roman Catholics.


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7 comments
Craigley
Craigley

Is HL actually a corporatoin?

TeeLodge
TeeLodge

Simple. You don't like the companies stance then look for another job. America, where you are free to work where you want.

Anse
Anse

God help folks who work for any business owned by Christian Scientists, right? What about Jehovah's Witnesses? Can they refuse to provide insurance that covers blood transfusions? All of this could have been resolved with a public option, but oh well.

wcvemail
wcvemail

@Anse And all of this -- ALL of it -- could have been resolved had Congress done its job, both Dems and Repubs. Health care has been an expensive disaster in this country for decades, yet Dems voted for a bill they hadn't read, and Repubs couldn't even come up with reasonable amendments such as a public option, much less a plan of their own. 

EvaGhib
EvaGhib

@Anse  Right, single payer is the way to go.

Gosh, war is also against our corporate beliefs, so no taxes for the military!


Anse
Anse

@wcvemail @Anse This whole thing about "voted for a bill they hadn't read"...first of all, that's an unfounded accusation. Secondly, it's a well-known fact that most members of Congress do not, and cannot possibly, read every single page of every piece of legislation that goes up for a vote. That's why they have staffers and aides and party leadership. Lastly, for all the critics of the law who make this claim...how many of them have read it? Because they're so sure they oppose this law and yet for all their criticism, they don't know any more about it than anybody else.

The fact is that in order to achieve single-payer, universal health care, you'd have to go up against a very massive insurance industry with deep pockets and probably more lobbyists than there are members in the Senate. Let's not pretend that this would be easy. It was hard enough getting this legislation passed. Rome wasn't built in a day. It's a marathon we're running, not a sprint. And the failure of the website is not a failure of the program itself.

wcvemail
wcvemail

@Anse @wcvemail Good response, Anse; in many/most ways, we're in agreement, but...

The "unfounded" accusation came from more than one Congress critter, complaining specifically that they had not had a chance to read the bill before voting on it. That's either abysmally poor staff management or an outright lie, or the truth, or some combo of all the above. Bearing in mind that the majority of reps are attorneys, trained and accustomed to perusing detailed, lengthy prose, I suspect it's a lie of convenience -- they truly had not read the massive bill, nor cared to do so, nor even tasked their staff with doing so.

You seem more optimistic than I about our reps' courage to stand up to big-money lobbying. Again, this is the fault of both parties, i.e., Bush's Medicaid drug benefit expansion explicitly prohibited any negotiation of drug prices, a clause which was apparently written by Big Pharma themselves. I don't think anything has or will change, given those massive profits and the companies' natural desire to keep raking in profits at the cost of relatively small campaign donations.

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