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Thread: Does the Hobby Lobby ruling now mean that Shareholders are no longer seperate?

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul View Post
    They shouldn’t be forced to make religiously objectionable decisions by government mandate.
    Then why should anyone? Why should I pay taxes to support Israel? Or War? Or Defense Spending? Or Farm Subsidies? Or Corporate Tax breaks?
    What if my personal religion is against ALL of that? Are the rights of a Corporation's Religious freedom more important than mine?

    The answer is pretty easy. The Government doesn't make decisions based on the rules of one religion or another. This is not a Theocracy. They make decisions based on what is best for the country and it's people. If you personally object to certain prescriptions, then don't take them. But the corporation should not be allowed to impose the personal religious convictions of it's owners on it's employees who have the freedom not to believe that and where believing it WAS NOT a prerequisite for employment.

    Also, we have laws prohibiting discrimination based on religion. You can't treat people who don't believe in your religion (or one different than yours) differently. Theirs is none of your business, just as you want yours to be your own business. Religion was supposed to be personal. That's now out of the window.

    I'm totally fine with religious organizations getting special treatment. But HL didn't hire it's current batch of employees with the understanding that the company would be ruled by a specific religion. Had they done that ahead of time and people still chose to work there, no problem either. But when you accept the privilege of serving and employing the general public, at least in America, you don't get to tell your employees what God they are allowed to worship or not worship.

    Furthermore, Health Insurance is not a gift. It's earned. It's a part of your salary. Opening the door that a corporation has religious freedom to deny one prescription or another from coverage based on the religion of it's owners, and not based on science or medicine where does it end? Can you deny people raises because you object to how they spend their money? The causes they support? The fact that they live with someone out of wedlock?

    That is in essence what this is. Health Insurance are benefits and payment that you have earned. The SCOTUS has basically ruled that a corporation has religion and that it's religion can dictate where you spend the money that they pay you.

    So what now? Can Christian Scientist now deny any coverage other than prayer? Can Jehovah's witnesses deny coverage of blood transfusions? Can certain Muslims refuse to serve and hire Jews?

    Again, no problem if you tell me that up front. But to pull a fast one after the fact is wrong on a lot of levels.

    The big problem I have with your argument is that HL covered these prescriptions before with no problem. Now that prescription coverage is part of the ACA, like a 5 year old child, now they have a problem with it.

    Also, how do you prove someone's religious conviction? HL's pension plan routinely invested in the very same companies that make the drugs that they now claim they morally object to. History of this new found conviction is not on their side. That's why to me this is all BS and they are hiding behind religion for political purposes.

    But the fact remains, if the corporation now legally reflects the behavior and actions of it's owners, then the 2 are no longer separate. They are one in the same and now share liability.

    There will be a court case soon that makes that point, and to me it's a good argument. Can't wait to see how it's ruled.
    Last edited by Harold Mansfield; 07-08-2014 at 04:33 PM.

  2. #12
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    There are many national issues the Government makes decisions on that many of us oppose. The difference is, that is what the government is supposed to do. That’s why we elect congress and presidents, to make national decisions and run the business of the country. It is much different than the government bureaucracy making individual decisions for citizens and companies.

    Also, this isn’t about how tax money is spent, it is about how private money is spent. If tax dollars were paying for Hobby Lobby’s healthcare plan I don’t think they’d have a case.

    Obviously we disagree on the shareholder/corporation separation issue. Based on your opinion, any one of the small closely held entities that are owned by members of this forum can be stripped of their legal protection if the company receives an exemption from a mandate based on the owner exercising their rights. That doesn’t make sense to me.

    I would be making essentially the same argument if the “mandate” were the opposite. If the government decided to prohibit covering contraception based on some religious concept and imposed a penalty on those who did, I’d be on the same bandwagon. The government can’t impose religious ideology and shouldn’t be able to undermine it either.

    For me, a government mandate that forces someone to give up a “right” is like entrapment. There’d be no issue if not for the government interference. As for being political, of course it’s political. Everything about it is political. The healthcare law is political, the mandate is political and so is the resistance.

    You state that healthcare now is a right and is earned and therefore can’t be modified by the employer. Employees are not prohibited from using any of the methods or prescriptions and are certainly not held in bondage as employees of the company. There is no infringement on their rights to use any contraception or to work elsewhere if they are not satisfied with their “earned” healthcare.

    I don’t believe any of your “what’s next” scenarios rise to the level of this particular case. There have been cases claiming exemption from laws and regulations including paying social security and taxes based on religious beliefs. I don’t think many have prevailed.

    The more important “what’s next” question is, “what is the next mandate the bureaucracy will impose on us”. The bureaucracy can now impose any mandate or regulation under the healthcare act they want, without approval from congress. They can change their position tomorrow and decide to prohibit contraception. Both sides should be concerned about arbitrary mandates and regulations that aren’t actual laws passed by congress.

    I know your original post was about the legal ramifications of the decision, but like you said that will be determined in some future court case. I think both of our arguments may be considered.

  3. #13
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    I guess the foundation of my objection is that I question the conviction of their argument. How do you prove religious conviction? Is the court now going to decide who is "more Christian" than someone else? Generally that was reserved for religious organizations. Not for profit companies.

    As I pointed out, Hobby Lobby not only covered these prescriptions with no problems before, but they invested in the companies that made the drugs.
    Did the Bible change since then?

    I don't see how any other religious exemption won't be a problem. There are already papers filed from other companies who now want religious exemption from anti discrimination laws, and offering insurance that covers other drugs and medical procedures.

    You see the ACA as a government imposition. I see it as someone finally addressing the corrupt and mostly unregulated medical insurance industry and calling them out on the crap policies that they've been selling that don't cover basic needs, deny coverage at will, and have been screwing over Americans for decades. The exact things that we've all been complaining about for as long as I remember.

    I don't consider prescription coverage this great government imposition. Nor why it's the corporations business what is prescribed by a doctor to a patient. But apparently you and many others believe that your boss has more rights to cherry pick what prescriptions they will allow you to have, and that they supersede your right to privacy and to make your own medical decisions.

    So instead of Government protection of your freedom to do as you choose, have your basic needs covered, and your right to privacy... you're opting for the corporation's rights to tell you what you can and cannot have. Your boss is not just your boss at the job, they are also the boss of your medical needs and decisions.

    My Jehovah's Witness example is the exact same thing. They don't believe in blood transfusions. So why should a company owned by JW's be mandated to pay for blood that you or a family member may need if you have an accident or need surgery? Or pay for medical tests that require drawing blood? It's the same thing. Shouldn't they also get an exemption from covering those medical treatments?

    I will likely never work for anyone ever again, but I'd hate to see this turn into a country where you have to worry about what religion your boss is before you take a job. Where only people of like religions hire and work for certain companies.

    This is also a glaring referendom on how important education is. You can only pull this kind of garbage on low wage employees who need their work related health insurance. You won't see Google, Apple or Oracle telling it's engineers what kind of religious approved birth control they are allowed to have on the company plan.

    Honestly, it infuriates me that this is where we are now. I seriously doubt that other religions will get the same consideration when it comes to the law and any exemptions. I was raised Christian, but honestly, other so called Christians are really starting to get on my nerves with the demanding of special treatment over all other religions.

    But as you say, we'll see. This is definitely not over.
    Last edited by Harold Mansfield; 07-09-2014 at 11:25 AM.

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    I don’t think the level of conviction is too important here, do we need a test to exercise religious beliefs?

    I also don’t think any other cases are going to prevail for other exemptions. The abortion issue is clearly the most emotionally charged and most important to some. I think both sides have to be very sensitive to that. I don’t think there is any other religious “conviction” that comes close.

    I think the entire issue in this case was avoidable. Including contraception was a last minute unnecessary addition to the health care law. They knew very well it would be controversial. It’s not a life saving drug or procedure and it’s readily available and affordable with or without insurance. Nobody’s life or health is at risk without it (except in some cases where I would agree it should be covered by prescription).

    My solution would have been to make it optional for companies to include in their plans. Like any other employment benefit, employees can consider it and decide if they want to work there or not. The free market would then sort out the true “believers” from the political agendas. Companies that didn’t offer it would likely be at a disadvantage to attract and retain employees. If they had to pay the same premium with or without, there would be no benefit to not offering it, other than just staying true to their convictions.

    That’s my solution , but I’m not in charge.

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    Nobody’s life or health is at risk without it (except in some cases where I would agree it should be covered by prescription).
    Pregnancy is a health risk. Always has been. Always will be with the way humans go about it. Covering forms of birth control (and make no mistake, the ruling was clarified to cover ALL forms of birth control, not just the ones Hobby Lobby disagreed with) is about reducing health risks for most women. It's only about "abortion" for busybodies who want to impose their theocracy on the rest of us. And saying it only applied to "small closely held corporations" means it covers a large number of companies, since most companies are small and closely held.

    As I said: the ruling and the logic behind it were a mess and we're basically one heart attack away from another test case that will overturn the decision.
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    But none of those pills are "abortion" pills. That's what keeps getting ignored. That's not how they work. Women and Doctors are screaming this at the top of their lungs, yet the people making the decisions are neither doctors or women.

    It's just strange that the same people who claimed that the ACA was the government coming between you and your doctor (back when they tried to make us believe that the ACA was actual government health insurance), have no problem with your boss coming between you and your doctor.

    Just want to point out that Sildenafil, Ciallis, ***** pumps and sometimes even Vasectomy's...all covered with no problem.

    To be honest, I hate the employers are now on the hook to provide insurance at all. How did we get here? Because Health Insurance used to be a benefit that companies used to attract talent. And certain industries are more dangerous than others where employees health is at risk just from doing the job. That created rates so high ( now that companies are paying) that the only way most Americans could afford insurance was to be a part of a group plan.

    Now that the price is coming down and more affordable for many, I'd personally like to see companies offering an opt out for higher wages, and employees get their own insurance and this all ends immediately. Just the idea that my boss has say in my medical decisions and treatments is so far out there that it seems like any one of many movies set in the future where the company now rules your life, and the government is it's enforcement arm.

    We both have opinions on who is trying to control who. You think it's the government. I think it's corporations and little by little they've now made your personal life their business.

    You get drug tested, credit checked, background checked, they talk to your friends and family references, they read your social media profiles, and now they're using religion to control what health insurance they offer as salary. After all of that, you then sign a statement that covers your involvement in any groups, civic organizations or other actions outside of work that they deem undesirable and can result in your termination. The company owns you both on and off the clock.

    It's out of control and this was just one more step. It's true. We are loosing freedoms and liberties. But it's not the government that is trying to take them from you. The government tried to make sure that you have access and a choice. The corporation is the one that went to court to say "No. Our employees are not free to use what ever birth control they want under coverage. We decide for our employees what we will allow".

    And you're mad at the Government for "imposing" things on you?
    Last edited by Harold Mansfield; 07-09-2014 at 09:03 PM.

  7. #17

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    There is a ton of ignorance and misinformation in this thread, but that's expected when both the media and advocacy groups spread misinformation to the dumb masses. The decision is easy to find. One should really read these things before commenting on them.

    The decision is not "unprecedented" or "political". It did not say "corporations are people, too". The decision hung on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 which creates a statutory right to certain exemptions from federal laws that they believe burdens their "exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability" unless the government can show that they are using the "least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest." 1 U. S. C. 1 defines "person" to include "corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals" for purposes of federal law. RFRA does not include a more limiting definition (which Congress has the power to do).

    Furthermore, HHS conceded that a corporation can be a person within the meaning of RFRA. (http://www.americanbar.org/content/d...thcheckdam.pdf and http://www.americanbar.org/content/d...thcheckdam.pdf). HHS also tanked their own "least restrictive means" argument by providing exemptions to non-profit corporations for religious objections that shift the burden to the insurer to exclude coverage from the employer-paid plan and separately fund coverage provided directly to the employee. It also doesn't help that HHS allowed plans to be grandfathered that have no contraceptive coverage at all. Congress also specifically excluded contraceptive coverage from the Affordable Care Act's list of "particularly significant protections". RFRA also specifically authorizes any agency to pay anything in order to achieve a goal of protecting a compelling governmental interest from religious objection, and that allows HHS to bear the burden. (Interestingly, the dissent suggests that employers drop insurance coverage altogether.)

    As for the "science", while the scientific validity of a religious claim is not under scrutiny in cases involving religious claims, HHS did accept Hobby Lobby's characterization of the scientific evidence, which was that the four drugs in question may prevent implantation after conception. The religious argument is that life begins at conception and therefore any interference after conception results in an abortion. The federal definition requires that implantation occur before an abortion can be performed, meaning that a contraceptive that can potentially destroy an embryo between conception and implantation cannot be labeled as an abortifacient.

    The ruling was also very narrow in that it only concerns the non-legislative contraceptive mandate, and it only applies to corporations so closely held that the religious objections of shareholders are likely to have an influence on business dealings.

    By the way, this ruling is not the end-all-be-all of the issue. The decision was based on a Congressional act, meaning that Congress does have the power to overrule the decision. Some things that Congress could do would be to amend the Affordable Care Act to include contraceptive coverage as a particularly significant protection, invoke an exemption from RFRA for the Affordable Care Act, or various funding options.

    Or a publicly-held for-profit corporation could take up the torch and file a lawsuit arguing that RFRA is unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause as suggested in Justice Stevens' concurrence in City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997).

    Or perhaps the best course of action might be to allow these drugs to be purchased over the counter. They're already relatively cheap by themselves - the "access" problem is the requirement to get a prescription from a doctor (who may only take patients with insurance) to get it filled at a pharmacy (who may only fill prescriptions covered by insurance).
    Last edited by Brian Altenhofel; 07-10-2014 at 06:13 AM.
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  8. #18
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    The Supreme Court also ruled :

    “[w]hen followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity.”

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar_ca...=1&oi=scholarr
    Plain and simple, you cannot impose your religious beliefs on your employees.

    The federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that you reference also provides that the federal government “may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only” in certain limited circumstances. This means that RFRA can only be used by plaintiffs who claim that they have a religious objection to following the law.

    As I already mentioned, HL invested in the companies that makes the drugs they claim to object to. In my opinion they never met the standard because they actively participated in supporting the very thing they claim violates their religious beliefs..but of course what I think mean crap...but I stick with my opinion that the court screwed us in favor of the will of the corporation.

    On fertilization vs. conception...yes that's long been the social argument. The Law vs. Religion. The court is obliged to follow the legal definition. There shouldn't be an argument there.

    HL is not a religious organization and they went into commercial activity by choice. They knew that required them to respect the rights and freedoms of the people that they hire.
    Last edited by Harold Mansfield; 07-10-2014 at 10:35 AM.

  9. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold Mansfield View Post
    The Supreme Court also ruled :



    Plain and simple, you cannot impose your religious beliefs on your employees.
    Not exactly.

    First, that ruling was based on pure Free Exercise arguments, and not on a statute that conferred a specific set of statutory rights to a given protected class (RFRA was 10 years later). Even so, it is an apples/oranges comparison between Hobby Lobby and Lee because the former deals with an executive directive while the latter dealt with a system of taxation. In Lee, the government had a compelling interest for universal participation in the Social Security system because of its design. Lee rests on Braunfeld v. Brown, 366 U.S. 599 (1961) in that when a compelling interest is found, determining whether the apparent least restrictive means is still valid requires weighing the burden vs the consequences of allowing an exemption. (In Hobby Lobby, the Court didn't have to address this because HHS had already demonstrated that there were less restrictive means they were offering some corporations and not other corporations.) Part of the "consequences" side of the balance was how one can distinguish between the Social Security tax and other income-based taxes. Should a religious opposition to war invoke an exemption from all income tax, or just the part of the income tax that goes to fund war? How is the exemption determined?

    As for "[t]he court is obliged to follow the legal definition", that is exactly what they did. Legally, "person" is defined in U.S. law to include corporations unless otherwise specifically excluded by Congress. RFRA also requires the court to take religious beliefs as a given because non-believers will by default find them absurd. Congress placed that provision in there in response to courts trying to determine whether one's religious beliefs were acceptable religious beliefs for First Amendment purposes. So even though the religious belief clashes with scientific consensus, the court is obliged by law to not discount or discredit the religious belief itself and to consider the belief as being an absolute fact.

    Arguably, RFRA is an unconstitutional law under both the Establishment Clause and Equal Protection. However, it's extremely rare for the federal government to successfully show the standing to challenge a federal law in court. Other than repeal of RFRA by Congress (not likely for various reasons, including intra-party politics in the Democratic Party since they were nearly unanimous in support of it), the only real option is for non-religous organizations to file a lawsuit showing that they are being unfairly discriminated against via RFRA. Still, they'll have the issue of proving standing.
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    So back to my original point. Given all of this, do you think it now muddies the waters that the liability of the corporation can still be reasonably called separate from that of it's shareholders if now the speech and religion are one in the same?

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