By Stephen Z. Nemo:
The lefty publication Mother Jones got to the heart of the issue in a March article on craft store chain Hobby Lobby’s challenge to Obamacare: “Theoretically the court in Hobby Lobby is being asked to make an entirely subjective judgment as to the sincerity of a plaintiff’s religious beliefs and whether a government regulation poses a ‘substantial burden’ on them. Such things aren’t easily measured, and doing so puts the courts at risk of passing judgment on the religious beliefs themselves, a big constitutional no-no,” said Mother Jones.
And so, the high court, in a 5-4 decision, said that in matters of religious conscience, it is better to rule on the side of individual liberty than to favor the arbitrary wishes of authoritarian government.
Do corporations have unalienable rights? In a word – yes.
This is established black-letter law, stretching back to 1819. It was reaffirmed in an 1888 Supreme Court ruling (Penbina Consolidated Silver Mining Co. vs. Pennsylvania): “Under the designation of ‘person’ there is no doubt that a private corporation is included [in the Fourteenth Amendment]. Such corporations are merely associations of individuals united for special purpose and permitted to do business under a particular name and have a succession of members without dissolution.”
The liberal Third Circuit Court of Appeals thought it could reverse that well-established legal precedent, saying in its ruling against Hobby Lobby, “General business corporations do not, separate and apart from the actions or belief systems of their individual owners or employees, exercise religion. They do not pray, worship, observe sacraments or take other religiously-motivated actions separate and apart from the intention and direction of their individual actors.”
Sandra Fluke, the darling of the Democratic Party after her Congressional testimony shrilly demanding taxpayer-provided contraception, wrote in the New York Times: “Today, the Court ruled that such corporations have religious rights under federal statute, just as individuals do. Corporations are not people. Corporations cannot have religious views. And this decision sends us in a dangerous direction.”
On the contrary, wrote Associate Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in Monday’s majority opinion, “All of this is true—but quite beside the point. Corporations, ‘separate and apart from’ the human beings who own, run, and are employed by them, cannot do anything at all.”
Furthermore, Alito cited the “Dictionary Act” of Title 1 of United States Code: A person is defined as “corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals.”
“In the beginning was the word,” says the Good Book, and words have inescapable and distinct meanings.
The United States Constitution (also not a person) views us as free individuals working in cooperation with one another. We are not a “collective,” not “masses” toiling under the lash of the super state’s Progressive overseers, and certainly not deep-pocket sugar daddies that exist for the pleasure of promiscuous college co-eds in search of a good time.
“Hobby Lobby’s statement of purpose,” Alito continued, “commits the Greens [founders of Hobby Lobby] to ‘honoring the Lord in all they do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles.’ Each family member has signed a pledge to run the businesses in accordance with the family’s religious beliefs and to use the family assets to support Christian ministries. In accordance with those commitments, Hobby Lobby… stores close on Sundays, even though the Greens calculate that they lose millions in sales annually by doing so. The businesses refuse to engage in profitable transactions that facilitate or promote alcohol use; they contribute profits to Christian missionaries and ministries; and they buy hundreds of full-page newspaper ads inviting people to ‘know Jesus as Lord and Savior.’”
In her Times piece, Fluke makes a point American corporations should note. “Closely held corporations make up more than 90 percent of the businesses in this country. They employ 52 percent of the labor force, and the 224 largest closely held corporations had combined revenues of $1.6 trillion in 2013. Some of these companies include Dell, Toys ‘R’ Us, Heinz, Dole Foods, Petco, Stater Bros and yes, even Koch Industries.”
Today’s favorable Hobby Lobby ruling, you might say, marked a “come to Jesus” moment for corporate America. I suggest they have their lawyers draw up new company charters with heavily heavenly overtones if they wish to avoid the devilishly evil and expensive aspects of ObamaCare.
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