The Supreme Court got it wrong, but not for religious reasons

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, July 1, 2014, 10:45 PM | comments: 2

The decision by the US Supreme Court to overturn certain coverage mandates of the ACA based on conflict of a company's religious views was totally the wrong decision. Most of the discussion around it centers on issues of religious freedoms (bound to all kinds of irony), labor standards and female healthcare rights. While these are all important talking points, they overlook the bigger problem: The court essentially said that a company is like a person, and that's pretty scary.

Regardless of where you stand, the court said that Hobby Lobby and the others in the suit were entitled to adhere to their religious beliefs. They made the distinction that this is for "closely held" companies, but offered little guidance about what that means, how you test for it, or what the scope of it relates to. Think about it though, this means a for-profit entity has a right typically reserved for an individual. In this case, what they're saying is that a corporation may impose its belief system on you as an employee.

I'm generally for the marketplace making these kinds of decisions, and I see the point of telling someone, "Don't work there if you don't agree with them." However, there are certain moral standards of labor that we've come to accept in the US, like minimum worker ages, minimum wage, workplace and safety conditions, etc. We still don't get it right in terms of law, in my opinion (think minimum time off, paternity leave requirements and such), but we do have some solid basic protections. The court's decision may open the door to other abuse that challenges these protections, perhaps on religious grounds.

But again, I go back to the issue of a company having a right over an individual. Corporations already yield massive power over individuals, and because our elected critters refuse to do anything about it, they also have entirely too much influence over government.

With such a close decision, there's little doubt that a similar issue will end up in front of the court at some point in the future. I'm just not crazy about what we might see in the mean time.


Dan K, July 2, 2014, 8:56 PM #

I don't know if you saw this already but John Oliver sums it up perfectly.

Jeff, July 2, 2014, 10:16 PM #

Love it!

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