Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Dear SCotUS: You Blew It

When you ruled that Hobby Lobby could implement its ownership's personal religious beliefs as policy imposed upon the company's employees, you really opened up the door to a world of abuse.

Hobby Lobby is a privately held corporation.  As are the majority of companies in both Canada and the United States.  Hobby Lobby is unusual in being a large operation with several thousand employees, where most corporations are quite small - a handful of employees at most.

However, I don't care what a corporation's owners "believe".  Frankly, I don't give a damn whether they believe that a condom is an abortifacient form of birth control or if the moon is made of green cheese.  They can believe the world if flat for all I care.

They still have no right whatsoever to stick their nose into my life outside of work.  PERIOD. This isn't just a matter of birth control.  It's a matter of privacy.  By permitting Hobby Lobby's ownership to pick and choose what forms of birth control the company health insurance plan will cover, your ruling allows the company ownership to impose its beliefs on the employees without any recognition of, or respect for, the individual lives that may be affected.  Frankly, I see no difference between Hobby Lobby's position on this and a refusal to provide insurance coverage for lung cancer treatment to a smoker on the basis that I believe that the smoker is making an immoral choice.

In ruling that Hobby Lobby can choose to make such limitations in the coverage of its health care, the SCotUS has provided a wedge that the right wing incrementalists will no doubt attempt to leverage.  We already know that their long term strategy is to incrementally erode rights a step at a time.

The religious right has been trying to dismantle Roe v. Wade for decades now.  You just handed them the tools to chip away further at the rights that Roe v. Wade so clearly set out in terms of women's reproductive health.

We have seen the religious classes argue against access to any kinds of contraception on the basis of their particular worldview.  In fact, in the last decade or so, they have expanded their scope from not just attacking abortion, but going after contraception as well.  Your ruling just handed them wording broad enough that we will no doubt see women's reproductive health pushed off the table in a great many workplaces - on the basis of the "beliefs" of the owners of the company.

How this will play out in cases like the Koch brothers where the company is "publicly traded", but controlling interest is held by the Koch brothers remains to be seen.  Could the Koch Brothers ram through a resolution at the annual general meeting to restrict access to birth control and have it stand?  The Hobby Lobby ruling is ambiguous in this respect.  It talks about the "probabilities", but it doesn't specifically rule out the Hobby Lobby ruling applying in such a situation.  I fully expect to see a series of proxy fights starting in various corporations as religious right groups try to flex their muscles on the AGM floor.

America's LGBT people are also justifiably wary of the Hobby Lobby ruling.  Religious objections have long been at the core of resistance to LGBT equality rights, and underly much of the systemic and explicit discrimination that LGBT people face daily - whether that is when ordering a meal in a restaurant, or trying to land a job.  Quite frankly, although the Hobby Lobby ruling appears to try and exclude such activities from the scope of the ruling, I guarantee you that someone is going to try it.  Religious objections have already been cited by a bakery which wanted to deny service to a gay couple, and I see no reason why this aspect of the Hobby Lobby ruling won't be challenged along these lines.

Let me be incredibly clear.  A corporation is not a person.  It cannot, and should never have been granted "rights" in the same sense that individual citizens hold them.  An individual citizen is possessed of a conscience, of beliefs and above all of individual autonomy.  No corporation can be said to have any of those attributes.  A corporation is a legal fiction designed for the express purpose of making money.  (Has anybody seen Hobby Lobby attending a church?  No, of course not.  Its owners can be seen in court, but one cannot say that the company attends a church)

Yes, a corporation does need certain rights legally supported.  However, those rights must be separate from, and subordinate to the rights of the individuals who participate in that corporation either as owners or as employees.  A corporation is a business intended to perform one function:  make money.  The corporation has a right to reasonable freedoms with respect to the execution of that fundamental goal.

However, those rights must be subjugated to the rights of individual citizens.  A corporation's actions absolutely should never be permitted to interfere with the private lives of citizens in any respect.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not to make light of the issue, but have you noticed how SCotUS looks like SCrotUms??