Thursday, July 3, 2014


I ask you, who made the best case? The Supreme Court minority or the majority in the Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby? By "best case" I mean "the best moral case."

On Monday, June 30, 2014, in this case the Supreme Court of the United States extended the right of religious freedom to corporations. That was a huge step into a new phase, one loaded with questionable assumptions.

United States Supreme Court
Photo by Daderot, in public domain, accessed from Wikimedia on 4/3/2014

(Note: this post differs from many comments on the legality of Hobby Lobby. This is moral in tone, not legal. The moral implications and errors of  judgment in this case are huge. In the 1930's, Chief Justice Earl Warren pronounced,  "In civilized life the law floats in a sea of ethics." Thus, this post on the state of the sea underlying Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby.)

Let me start first with our American spiritual ancestors, Baptists, Quakers, and Catholics among them, who fought to gain religious freedom, and with Thomas Jefferson, who aided and abetted them. They certainly didn't have in mind religious freedom for corporations. There is no precedent in the historical origins of religious freedom in America for granting freedom of religion to a corporation.

Next, I know the difference between my corporation and myself. I know my corporation has no religious beliefs of any kind and is not an extension of my personal beliefs. (If it did have religious beliefs, it could have been one of my converts!) The corporation has no consciousness, no ego, no alter ego. My corporation isn't a "person" except in a fictitious sense. The fiction is important but for very limited purposes.

As the owner of a corporation, I can easily make the natural person and the corporate person.

Yet in Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby the court did confuse a legal fiction, a corporation, with a biological reality, a natural person. The mix-up is of great moral importance and a shock to common sense too.

Moreover, this ruling is a possible first step in giving even greater  freedom to corporation under the "religion" fiction. For example, will corporations whose boards disagree with gay marriage on religious grounds win a right to fire an employee who's a party to a gay marriage because the owners or the board to object to such marriages?

In addition, there are injustice issues. The decision handed an economic incentive to corporations whose boards elect not to provide birth control health policies. To the extent that insurance policies without birth control coverage cost less than those that do provide birth control coverage, "believer" corporations are rewarded. "Nonbelievers", corporations that continue to provide birth control health policies, will suffer economic disadvantage with every single monthly insurance premium. If one or more corporations has gained a financial benefit by claiming a religious belief, why won't more? Why shouldn't all? To level the playing field all a corporate board needs is to claim a religious belief.

Besides, "believer" corporations now can shift a portion of their health care expenses to female employees, who must pay for their own birth control means.

Thus, current "nonbeliever" corporations may now come to be motivated to proclaim "believer" status out of desire to cut corporate operating expense. But religious faith is not to be utilitarian. That's hypocrisy, not faith. Faith is considered to be an end in itself.

With my children and grandchildren I'm waving my sparkler and showing my flag this evening, the Fourth of July. I'm very grateful for my nation and its religious freedoms. But, as never before, I'll also have doubts about the prospects for justice in this, my country.

I began with a question to you. I'd like to give my own answer to the question. Natural human beings need to respect moral boundaries. The five majority justices ignored philosophical and moral boundaries. I'm grateful to the four minority justices. They made a wonderful case that floated high on "a sea of ethics" and common sense. The five have contributed to a very choppy sea.

True patriots must wake up and correct the mistaken June 30 court decision by any legal means.

Recommended further reading:

This Slate link reports the thoughts of Americans on bestowing personal attributes on corporations.

Clicking RHReality will lead you to a feisty legal analysis of Hobby Lobby.

[Note: I restrict myself to a "green" emphasis in my blogs. My book, Growing Green Two Ways, emphasizes thinking for yourself among other themes, and this blog falls into that category. I'm green, and the Hobby Lobby case is the most important thing I can discuss this week.]

Does the post resonate with you? If so please "multiply the loaves" by clicking on a social site button below. Thanks for reading; return every weekend for a new post.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home