Tag Archives: labor law

Corporate Rights #3: The Hobby Lobby Fact Sidestep

A third aspect of the Hobby Lobby case bears mention. This is covered quite extensively in a March 21, 2014 article from Mother Jones (Are You there God? It’s Me, Hobby Lobby by Stephanie Mencimer). The article points out a couple of problems with the Green family claims. I call them Fact Sidesteps. (Picture a Vaudevillian with a cane shuffling off stage right)

Fact Sidestep 1. Hobby LObby claims as fact that it has longstanding, strong religious objections to covering IUDs and Plan B contraceptives. But, in fact,  Hobby Lobby HAD been covering these two contraceptives BEFORE the ACA was passed and implemented. The questions becomes: How sincere are the religious beliefs of this corporation/family? Did they have a new revelation from god AFTER the ACA was approved? Nice little shuffle.

Fact Sidestep 2: Hobby Lobby wants to deny covering these contraceptives as part of an overall health plan for their employees because they oppose these contraceptives. Yet, their own pension fund is INVESTED in these contraceptive manufacturers. Their argument could well be that since the pensions funds are part of a group, they had no choice but to invest in them as part of a group investment. So, they MAKE money off these companies (against their own religious beliefs) but refuse to SPEND money to cover these contraceptives. Interesting shuffle.

Fact Sidestep 3: Some commenters  (on Yahoo) have insisted that Hobby Lobby has no choice but to invest in these companies because they are part of a set groups of investments. Yet, at least since 1994 there have been specific funds for “anti-contraceptive” fundamentalist Christians to invest in. Evidently, the Greens did  not find those funds as profitable. Keep a shufflin’ right off stage.

All in all,  this corporate sidestep should be seen for what it is. Using a religious argument to attack the ACA…and save a few bucks . If “sincerely-held” beliefs require “actions”, the Green family/corporation fails the religious test. But, the Roberts court has not been one to let a little shuffling get in the way of the majority decisions.

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Corporate Rights #2: The Hobby Lobby Religion

Central to the Hobby Lobby case before the Supreme Court is whether a corporation can exercise the right to religious freedom. And thereby excuse itself from laws it finds religiously offensive.

We have a long history of allowing religious institutions and sometime even individuals exemptions from the law. Or parts of the law. For example, the Affordable Care Act exempts religious employers from paying for health insurance costs related to some areas of contraception and abortion. The principle, not really tested yet in court in the case of the ACA, being that legitimate religious beliefs trump this part of the law. While I personally do not agree that any institution or individual is above the law, the Congress disagrees. Perhaps the lobbying power and financial clout of non-tax paying religious organizations may be part of the reason for this exemption. At any rate, it is there. It exists. It is legal.

But other times the courts have ruled that certain practices of religious groups are not above the law. Polygamy, for example, was considered essential for the leaders of the Church of Latter Day saints. But the government ruled otherwise. Even though it was, at the time, a central doctrine of the faith. The Mormons believed in it. The US government said “No”.

And no one would argue that child marriage, slavery, human sacrifice  or actions which obviously harm individuals should be protected, no matter how sincere the beliefs of the religious group that holds them. So, the courts have ruled that religious freedom has  limits, as does  any right.

Individuals who may object to joining the military can apply for conscientious objector status, which precludes them from taking part in combat. But even in this case, it does  not exempt them from military service. They are given other jobs to do. So,  in that sense, they are not exempt.

What about Hobby Lobby? It is not a religion. It is not a church. It is a junk store. It does business in the United States as a multi-million (perhaps billion dollar) corporate entity. Not a mom and pop operation. Not your local Jewish deli. It is a corporate chain, like a MacDonalds or a Dollar Store. What is it’s claim to a religious exemption?

The family that owns Hobby Lobby has sincere religious beliefs. As do the owners of thousands of businesses. And the CEO  of Exxon  or GE or Boeing.  But Hobby Lobby is claiming that the beliefs of a few people, because they are owners of a business enterprise,  somehow allow them to impose their terms on a secular labor contract. While the law says that any business must provide certain things…overtime pay, safe working conditions, minimum wages and now minimum health care benefits, Hobby Lobby is claiming that it does  not have to  abide by those laws. While it uses a religious argument, the actual substance of the case is about money. After all, no one is forcing the Green family to pay for anything out of their own pockets. They have the legal protections of a corporation, but do not want to fulfill the responsibilities of a corporation under the ACA.

The workers earn benefits. Can a corporation limit or reduce or deny benefits based on some new and radical idea of “corporate religion”? If so,  any reasonable person can follow the thread and see where it leads. Any corporate lawyer worth his salary will be codifying “religious beliefs” for Wendy’s and GM before the ink dries on a favorable court decision.

Of course a corporation cannot claim religious freedom to avoid labor laws. A corporation is an artificial , man-made legal construct.  Can anyone claim with a straight face that the original intent of the Bill of Rights was to shield business entities from the powers given Congress in Article 1 ?

Perhaps. After all, some members of this court have already turned the Constitution and themselves  into a logical pretzel with the Bush v Gore decision and the Citizens United decision. While both were obviously politically motivated the majority managed to mangle the interpretation to mean “whatever I say it means”.

So, while an honest interpretation of the law (which already exempts religious groups) and the Constitution would seem to indicate a 9-0 decision against Hobby Lobby, there is no telling how far some members will go in their homage to corporate power. We shall see. Just as Citizens United has turned our elections into a livestock auction,  (“twenty dollar, eighty dollar, five thousand dollar, two million dollar…SOLD, to the two brothers in the back of the room slinking in the corner”) this court decision could eviscerate any worker protection and undercut Article 1 of the Constitution. Believe it.

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Filed under ACA, Conservatives, healthcare, neoconservatives, Obamacare, Religion, Supreme Court, Taxes

Corporate Rights#1:The Sexual Deviants at Hobby Lobby

Quick background. The company  called Hobby Lobby,  owned by a family called the Greens,  does not want to pay for part of the health care for some of it’s workers. This is basic preventative health care covered , by law,  under the ACA. They don’t like some of the forms of birth control, which they claim are abortions. While the medical and scientific evidence refutes that claim, that is not the point.

The point is that the Greens want to exempt themselves from the law based on their personal  religious beliefs . This raises a number of issues, only one of which I will touch on today. There are other issues to be examined at a later date. But today the issue is the Green support for “sexual  deviance”.

Are the owners of Hobby Lobby trying to force deviant sexual practices on their employees? And should a company be able to encourage their employees to engage in sexually deviant behavior, directly or indirectly?

Let me explain.  The Greens oppose the idea of abortion. They also oppose having to pay for any contraceptive that they consider to be abortion inducing .  They reserve the right to define the drug and then refuse to  pay insurance costs associated with their findings. It should be noted that at least some of the contraceptives they find to be abortion inducing are not . But the court did  not delve into the scientific validity of their claims, only their genuinely held beliefs. So be it.  Some folks believe that dinosaurs walked with man. So be it.

So,  what the Greens are saying is that if their employees participate in sexual activity that could lead to pregnancy, the Greens oppose providing the means to  prevent or abort that pregnancy. Keep following this. So, if an employee of Hobby Lobby and her husband have sexual relations in which the husband carefully (or not so carefully) inserts his penis into the employee’s vagina, then the Greens get upset. They will not pay for certain contraceptives that might lead to the sexual act NOT producing a bouncing bundle of joy. So, the Greens are telling their employees that every personal sex act between a husband and wife is now the business of the Green family, because they employ one of the parties at their store. OK.

Oddly, however, the Greens are actually using an economic incentive to encourage couples to engage in non-copulatory sexual behavior. Oral sex will not lead to pregnancy. The Greens are encouraging it. Anal sex will not lead to pregnancy. The Greens are saying  to their employees. Go For It. Homosexual activity will not result  in pregnancy. To the  Greens,  that is A-OKAY in their book. I must suppose that bestiality must be number one in the “Hobby Lobby Guide to Employee Sex Practices”. After all,  the ACA does not cover vet bills.

So, we must ask ourselves. Are the Greens,  under the guise of  religious “freedom” actually encouraging their employees to engage in all kinds of sexual activity. Do they get a vicarious thrill from the thought of their workers going home and engaging in a variety of sexual practices, many of which were illegal only a few decades ago ? Does it excite their corporate religious fervor ? We cannot know and I am only asking. I am not sure where this will lead, but I suspect in the end it will unravel as a communist plot to ensure deviant sexual practices are mandated in America. Obama’s fault. I can feel it coming.

Next up, another essay on the corporate rights.

 

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Filed under ACA, healthcare, homosexual, neoconservatives, Obamacare, Religion, Supreme Court