Do corporations have religious beliefs? The Supreme Court will need to decide soon

0

Remember the big dustup last summer over the contraception mandate in President Obama’s health reform initiative? It required companies with more than 50 employees to provide insurance, including for contraception, as part of their employees’ health care plans. The constitutional question was whether employers with religious objections to providing coverage for birth control could be forced to do so under the new law. The Obama administration tweaked the rules a few times to try to accommodate religious employers, first exempting some religious institutions—churches and ministries were always exempt—and then allowing companies that self-insure to use a separate insurance plan to pay and provide for the contraception. Still, religious employers objected, and lawsuits were filed, all 60 of them.


A year later, the courts have begun to weigh in, and the answer has slowly begun to emerge: maybe yes, maybe no. It all depends on whether corporations—which already enjoy significant free-speech rights—can also invoke religious freedom rights enshrined in the First Amendment. 

Last Friday, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the contraception mandate, rejecting a challenge from a Pennsylvania-based cabinetmaker who claimed that as a Mennonite he should not be compelled to provide contraceptive coverage to his 950 employees because the mandate violates the company’s rights under the free exercise clause of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The owner considers some of the contraception methods at issue—specifically, the morning-after and week-after pills—abortifacients.

Written By: Dahlia Litchwick
continue to source article at slate.com

NO COMMENTS

  1. What always seems to be unreported whenever this topic comes up in the US is that there is clear medical data that show that women who have access to a Full range of reproductive health services are healthier and economically better off. This is not an overreach by the Obama administration; it is simply good medicine.

    Religions should not be able to put people at risk by denying science. Period.

  2. It all depends on whether corporations—which already enjoy significant free-speech rights—can also invoke religious freedom rights enshrined in the First Amendment.

    I bloody well hope they can’t.

    A corporation isn’t a person, so how can a company claim that right?

    What’s next? Tax exemptions on the grounds that it is a religious institution?

    Looks like a slippery slope to me…

    • In reply to #3 by DHudson:

      A corporation isn’t a person, so how can a company claim that right?

      The Supreme Court has already decided they are indeed persons in relation to “free speech” (political donations) so…

      • In reply to #4 by alaskansee:

        In reply to #3 by DHudson:

        A corporation isn’t a person, so how can a company claim that right?

        The Supreme Court has already decided they are indeed persons in relation to “free speech” (political donations) so…

        …the slippery slope is already in motion.

  3. I’m starting to think it would be best that none of my healthcare was under my employer. Separate health insurance from the workplace. They already have too much information as a result of all these workplace incentives to lose weight, walk more, etc. They say these surveys are anonymous, but employers are already trying to find ways of eliminating older employees or employees with health issues. If hospital records can slip out into the public via someone being careless with their laptop, all medical info is at risk.

    As long as healthcare/insurance is through the employer, they should be required to provide coverage despite their religious views. If a couple wants to open a B&B or small Inn, should they be allowed to turn away gay couples?

    • In reply to #6 by QuestioningKat:

      I’m starting to think it would be best that none of my healthcare was under my employer. Separate health insurance from the workplace.

      In the UK, all compulsory National Insurance contributions are collected by employers, along with deducted taxes, but are passed to the state to administer the National Health Service.

      I was injured by a log while doing tree surgery last month, taken to a NHS hospital by ambulance (which arrived within 15 minutes of the telephone call confirming a need), and operated on the some night, following a CT Scan and diagnosis.
      In the week I spent in hospital, I had no visits from theological representatives and no questions about religion. – Just a consent form to sign, after doctors explained possible out-comes. The services were comprehensive with all treatments, medicines and follow-up medical checks with my own doctor, provided with no additional charges. I am now making a good recovery.

      • In reply to #9 by Alan4discussion:

        In reply to #6 by QuestioningKat:

        I’m starting to think it would be best that none of my healthcare was under my employer. Separate health insurance from the workplace.

        In the UK, all compulsory National Insurance contributions are collected by employers, along with deducted taxes, but are passed…

        Yes Alan, the NHS may give you excellent and affordable health care, but think how bad it is for your moral fibre. You obviously have a sense of entitlement developed by extreme socialist belief in the value of state controlled medicine. You lack that rugged, individualist self sufficiency, indifference to the needs of others, and commitment to the beauty of market forces which have made America the greatest country in the world.

        • In reply to #12 by Kevin Murrell:

          My sarcasm detector is registering!!

          You obviously have a sense of entitlement developed by extreme socialist belief in the value of state controlled medicine.

          Well, that – and an entitlement from a life-time of paying National Insurance contributions.

          You lack that rugged, individualist self sufficiency, indifference to the needs of others, and commitment to the beauty of market forces which have made America the greatest country in the world.

          The UK NHS does lack the belief in the profit motive of US “free market forces”, but seemingly delivers a better service for around half the price.

          http://thesocietypages.org/graphicsociology/2011/04/26/cost-of-health-care-by-country-national-geographic/

          • In reply to #13 by Alan4discussion:

            In reply to #12 by Kevin Murrell:

            My sarcasm detector is registering!!

            You obviously have a sense of entitlement developed by extreme socialist belief in the value of state controlled medicine.

            Well, that – and an entitlement from a life-time of paying National Insurance contributions.

            You lack…

            I hoped you would notice that I was being a mite ironic.

        • In reply to #12 by Kevin Murrell:

          In reply to #9 by Alan4discussion:

          In reply to #6 by QuestioningKat:

          I’m starting to think it would be best that none of my healthcare was under my employer. Separate health insurance from the workplace.

          In the UK, all compulsory National Insurance contributions are collected by employers, along..

          I assume then that you’re attributing America’s greatness to the greed and indifference of industry toward the American citizens who support their opulence. The Roman Empire fell and America the great can fall as well. Especially with the greed of the money makers being harboured in institutions like Goldman Sachs who learned nothing from the recent recession. Medicare should be free to all Americans. It’s a matter of life and death for many.

  4. Do corporations have religious beliefs?

    Just as with people, the question of whether or not they posses epistemic liberty should be irrelevant as “beliefs” do not serve as a basis for claims, powers or immunities in the realm of conduct.

  5. You’d need to be a corporate lawyer to sort this one out. In the US a corporation has many, though not all,of the rights of a person. I should think that in order to enjoy religious privileges, a corporate entity would have to be baptised or better still circumscised. In the latter case you’ld have to decide if the corporation was male of female. If it were female, then circumcision would of course be illegal, at least in Western countries.

  6. I wonder how a denominational definition of a Corporation might play with the fundamentalist hierarchy of that denomination? Suppose the CEO of a “Catholic” (say) corporation was insufficiently misanthropic or homophobic …. could it be excommunicated by the pope and all its assets fair game for the orthodox faithful? How many might suffer the imposition of a fatwa for excessive profiteering?
    Of course I am being fatuous, no religion is strong enough to keep a lawyer from his fee. Once upon a time all lawyers were clerics.

Leave a Reply