Monday, June 30, 2014

KP STATEMENT: Response to Hobby Lobby Supreme Court Case

 HARRISBURG, PA – Keystone Progress Executive Director Michael Morrill made the following statement in response to today's Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. decision:

"The Supreme Court’s unfortunate decision today in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (et al) opens the floodgates to religious critiques, despite the majority's claim that the decision does not apply to religious objections to blood transfusions.  We agree with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dissent that say this is a 'decision of startling breadth.' 

"We believe that
 we will see religious liberty claims by for-profit businesses asking for exemptions from a host of federal statutes immediately, since this this is the first time for-profit corporations have won a court-authorized exemption from a neutral law.  This has dangerous implications for the ACA and creates new opportunities for religious business owners may be circumvent the law.  

"It is outrageous for a business to claim, as they have in this case, that birth control coverage amounts to sinful complicity with their employees’ purportedly sinful conduct, meaning business owners’ ability to withhold to their own religious tenets is encumbered substantially if they must maintain even indirect connection to their employees’ independent decisions. In the end, the way this case was argued by Hobby Lobby and other plaintiffs, we will see a dramatic shift in how the government can limit religiously-prompted conduct in a business setting.  This is a dangerous precedent in a country where we have both freedom of religion, but also freedom from religion."  

1 comment:

  1. Hobby Lobby and the corporate veil:
    While much of the attention over this case has centered on women's rights (and rightly so!), a small amount of attention has been made of the fact that this further blurs the line between corporations and people. It's this latter issue that is most interesting, and opens a door to tearing the whole Hobby Lobby model apart.
    Small, closely held businesses typically incorporate to provide a level of isolation between themselves and liabilities that might be incurred by their business. The "corporate veil" provides some protection in that the actions of the business are not necessarily the responsibility of the owners, and damages (or legal actions) against the company for its actions cannot spill into the owners' personal finances or responsibility.
    But the Hobby Lobby decision pierces that veil. It allows the company to use its owners' own personal religious views to ignore laws and regulations based on the owners' beliefs.
    This veil-piercing cannot operate in only one direction. By using their personal religion as an excuse to ignore business and tax laws for their business, the owners are now uniquely responsible for the actions of their company. If small, closely held companies want to exercise their personal religious beliefs to tear down the wall between their business and their personal lives, then they also expose themselves to personal liability for the actions of their business.
    Should a company such as Hobby Lobby accidentally dump waste in a stream, or sell a product that leads to a child's death, the owners can and should be held PERSONALLY liable for the crime. The court proceedings and decisions should be made as if the individual owners personally dumped a toxic material, or personally sold a product that led to another person's death. Jail time and personal financial liability should be at stake.
    This Supreme Court ruling has an impact far beyond simple women's rights and religious freedoms. It can and should lead to a re-interpretation of the protections offered by incorporation for any corporation that wishes to voluntarily pierce that corporate veil and be treated as an individual.