Phoenix and the SCOTUS Ruling that Private Corporations Can Exercise Religious Beliefs

Categories: News analysis

SCOTUS.jpg
www.supremecourt.gov
East façade of the Supreme Court Building. (Franz Jantzen)

The United States Supreme Court sided today with Hobby Lobby and other privately owned corporations that argued they should not be required to provide access to contraceptives in employee health plans -- as mandated by the Affordable Care Act -- if doing so violates their closely held religious beliefs.

The 5-4 split favors privately owned corporations' rights to sidestep the healthcare law because following it would infringe on their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. That law prohibits government from substantially burdening "a person's exercise of religious," and federal law defines a "person" as a corporation as well as an individual.

So there it is -- a very similar argument to the one made not long ago by Cathi Herrod, head of the Center for Arizona Policy.

See also:
-Center for Arizona Policy Hates Gays, Abortions
-SB 1062 Was the Best Thing to Happen for Arizona's LGBT Community

Herrod wanted to push through a state law that would provide business owners legal cover if they chose to deny services to particular patrons (i.e., gay people) if these individuals or their lifestyles clashed with shop owners' closely held religious beliefs.

It was dubbed by critics as a way to legalize discrimination.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, the driving force behind the city's anti-discrimination ordinance, says "for the exact same reasons that I opposed SB1062 so strongly...I believe the Supreme Court got the Hobby Lobby case wrong."

The City of Phoenix has "passed tough ordinances banning discrimination against the LGBT community, and I feel strongly that private business should not be able to override city policy protecting people against discrimination. And I'm concern the Hobby Lobby case could lead to that."

Rebecca Wininger, public-policy chair of Equality Arizona, an LGBT advocacy group, says, " [We] need to be careful about today's ruling because it was extremely narrow."

She says the community has to be "make sure people don't take this [ruling] to the extreme. We're coming down to the line where you have, on one side, freedom for religious expression, and on the other side, people who want to use their beliefs as religious dominance over others. We have to make sure they don't cross that line."

Herrod, in a statement posted on the Center's website, says, "We will be analyzing this decision to determine what else can be done to strengthen religious freedom protections in Arizona."

She continued:

This decision underscores the purpose of Arizona's Religious Freedom Restoration Act -- to balance a compelling governmental interest with every American's freedom to live and work according to their faith. The Court's ruling exemplifies how the CAP-supported SB 1062 would have protected individual liberty, while protecting against unlawful abuse of religious freedom.

Like the proposed SB 1062 would have affirmed, the Supreme Court said today that no one should be forced to surrender their First Amendment religious-freedom protections merely because they start a business.

SB 1062 was passed by the state Legislature but was vetoed by Governor Jan Brewer amid an uproar from the public and business community.

The failed proposal essentially gave the right for a business owner to decide, for example, that they would not serve a gay couple because homosexuality conflicts with their religious beliefs. It was intent on unraveling local laws passed by some Arizona cities, including Phoenix and Flagstaff, that prohibit discrimination against gay or transgender individuals.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg disagreed with the majority of her SCOTUS colleagues. She wrote:

In the Court's view, RFRA demands accommodation of a for-profit corporation's religious beliefs no matter the impact that accommodation may have on thirdparties who do not share the corporation owners' religious faith--in these cases, thousands of women employed by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga or dependents of persons those corporations employ. Persuaded that Congressenacted RFRA to serve a far less radical purpose, and mindful of the havoc the Court's judgment can introduce, I dissent.
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47 comments
RetiredArmy
RetiredArmy

Oh and by the way, the supreme court (the government) gets to control and define what constitutes a religion. 


So where is my religious freedom? My religion believes that cannabis is the central sacrament that brings life, liberty, and happiness.

Criticalthinkin
Criticalthinkin

Obama keeps getting thumped by Constitutionality. He's as unconstitutional as Arpaio.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Guess this means that Closely Held CORPORATIONS don't have to pay TAXES that fund the Military if their Religion of Peace compels them to be conscientious objectors.



DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Religion = Superstitious Nonsense for Ignorant Imbeciles

fairclaire
fairclaire

I'm a big, big fan of abortions! I think that all pro-choice liberals should abort at least one of their children. I'm also a big, big fan of personal responsibility and think that they can pay for it themselves.

JoeArpaioFan
JoeArpaioFan

This has the liberals fuming mad.  Ha ha!

MaskedMagician1967
MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

This is one of the WORST decisions to ever emanate from the Supreme Court.

shadeaux
shadeaux

Bet the Ayatollah Herrod got wet when she heard the news.

Flyer9753
Flyer9753 topcommenter

So discrimination is illegal in America.. unless you are member of the church, then you can discriminate all you want

RetiredArmy
RetiredArmy

@DonkeyHotay 

Religion = Big Bucks for those that lead the blind into the gates of hell (theocracy).

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@arizonanewtimes.com 

Not just the liberals.  Also anybody who values the Constitution over a book cobbled together out of texts written by primitive people a long, long time ago.

JoeArpaioFan
JoeArpaioFan

@MaskedMagician1967 What's wrong, you mad because you won't be able to get your free morning after pill? Actually it was one of the most common-sense decisions the Court has made. More to come that will irritate you liberals even more.

Flyer9753
Flyer9753 topcommenter

@MaskedMagician1967 I can't even fathom the logic behind this....


I mean citizens united was bad, but legally and logically, the way our laws are designed, it was a correct decision since the issue is not something for the court to solve, but the constitution (amendment).


But I can't see how the court was thinking on this in any legal sense, since it 100% ignores freedom FROM religion and makes the employee a slave which is against the very principles this country was founded on.

JoeArpaioFan
JoeArpaioFan

@Flyer9753 The ruling was not discriminatory because there is no such thing as protection for Freedom FROM Religion.

ilikethevacuummethod
ilikethevacuummethod

@valleynative @fairclaire the issue before the court was contraceptives which work after conception, like the morning after pill, and hobby lobby and others consider them tantamount to abortions. So, it has something to do with abortions. I don't care how you guys do it though, vacuum it out, take a pill or do the falcon punch, just DO IT! we have too many of you idiots running around as it is and we don't need any more.

dlee23
dlee23

Watch the documentary titled "Hot Coffee"... it is an eye opener in regards to tort reform being a hypocritical title for what it actually entails as well as, relevant here, how the justice system has been long subverted by the right wing and the fruits of those efforts are coming to fruition, as seen by recent supreme court rulings.

JoeArpaioFan
JoeArpaioFan

@Flyer9753 There is no such thing as any constitutional protection of Freedom FROM Religion.

Flyer9753
Flyer9753 topcommenter

@MaskedMagician1967 Yeah.. this is ripe for abuse. Now any business can say no to any part of any law basically on the basis of religious exemption.. like a business, that is only responsible for profit is not going to abuse that...


There is another aspect to this that is being missed. The first is not just about freedom of religion, it's about freedom from religion.. unless in the workplace of course, then you must do as demanded, you are no longer a person, you are a thing that is owned and must conform

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@ilikethevacuummethod @valleynative @fairclaire 

They're not abortion. They take effect before implantation, which means before there is a pregnancy.  Conception doesn't create a person, anymore than having a virus add new DNA to your skin cells creates a new person.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@arizonanewtimes.com @Flyer9753 

It's actually just a ban on the establishment of religion.

This ruling comes dangerously close to establishing religion as an official part of our government policy.

 

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@Flyer9753 @MaskedMagician1967 

This was a bad decision, but it's not as bad as you make it sound.  Employees are not slaves.   We get to choose who we're willing to work for.  In fact, these days, we're free to not work at all, and live off of those who do.


 

dlee23
dlee23

Unfortunately, not in reality. The way the economy has been, many cannot pick and choose jobs... the choice is sometimes between taking whatever is available or becoming homeless.... I have been there and it is tough, 3.5 years unemployed, at 50, the economy collapsing killing my business, my industry is in the toilet,... go back to school but then competing with kids half my age for jobs... if it wasn't for friends I would have been on the street, and then also, I am a good businessman and employee... so I nailed the only interview I was called in for after 3.5 years of sending out 1000s of individually tailored resumes. So I am talented and lucky and look at how long it took me to get employed. But you really have to be joking if you think getting the luxury of which job you can get, is how it is today. Yes, you have the choice to go hungry or homeless... but those with dependents don't necessarily get that luxury either.

Also, I don't believe I have the option of living off others without breaking the law in some fashion... being a white unmarried single man and all. Perhaps there are scams that are legal but I don't get the feeling this is the road you were going down with your comments.

I get that theoretically or philosophically, what you are saying but the option of choice is only a option in a decent economy.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@dlee23 

The economy isn't as bad as you may think.

Even the biggest losers I know have been able to find work and to change jobs if they weren't happy with what they found.


dlee23
dlee23

well, perhaps because sometimes you act like dick and discount others observations by indulging in semantics. typically you come off fairly intelligent but your ego seems to get in the way at times.... just my observation.

dlee23
dlee23

I replied to this once already and apparently the net ate it...

so here it goes again...

From your experience perhaps, but I will say you are a dick for implying that it is easy or that probable that in last 3-4 years the majority of americans could pick and choose which jobs they will get. For anyone in the printing or luxury goods markets... its been all downhill for most in the last 3-4 years... and its the same for many other industries, some IT people with certain skills are high in demand while others are now managers at circle k... a job direction I am sure they are happy with... hardly.

You dont give me a sense you have been down in the trenches of those affected by the economies downturn... and too say it is not as bad as people think it is... shit.. my geriatric friends who have lived through the depression highly disagree with you.

but then what kind of response would I expect from a native considering this regions past... more of the same bullshit without considering reality.

dlee23
dlee23

Meh, says one that apparently was not directly affected.

I know it killed my and similar businesses across the usa, I know I also lost my job... all due to the economy... which was what I was told.. yeah I worked one job to help finance a business that employed others... so obviously I am not a slacker or loser, as the awards my businesses have recd attest to.

As I said, I busted my ass, researched everything regarding job hunting, resumes, networking... I did it all and I didn't t get a choice for 3.5 years... even with my resume dumbed down by 90%, I still couldn't get low paying jobs. And the only choice I had was to take the job I was offered or not and starve

... big choice.

It is so easy to say how rosy it is still out there but you appear completely out of touch by those of us who have had to go through this first hand.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@dlee23 

It isn't "indulging in semantics" to say that this has nothing at all to do with abortion.  Pointing out that you're mistaken about what "abortion"means is not acting like a dick.

One of us has acted like one, but it hasn't been me.  Get over your own ego and open your mind.


learntostayontopic
learntostayontopic

@valleynative @dlee23 you lost this argument several posts ago. why do you persist. this case did in fact "have to do with abortion." that was the whole basis of the case. hobby lobby and others refused to offer what they consider abortions and they won. it doesn't matter what you or anybody else thinks about the definition of the word  abortion, that wasn't being considered by the court. So, wear some black framed glasses with coke bottle lenses and hold a biology book while you're doing it, but just don't let any more idiots like yourself emerge from any vaginas.

dlee23
dlee23

yes it does, when a vast majority of the xtrian right believes it does. the personal biases of what is driving this, is abortion, even if scientifically it doesnt meet the dictionary definition of abortion... it is semantics whether you care to believe so or not. I know what you are saying is true but those that oppose obamacare think otherwise... and this contingent is what drives such rulings. you are sticking your head into the sand if you think this isnt about abortion to the xtrian right. or maybe you never speak with people from the xtrian right to find out.

calling you a dick, had nothing to do with my feelings here but rather your dismissive tone over the last year when facts are not necessarily on your side.

Heh, all you have pointed out to me is you think I am wrong but you have yet to provide any evidence proving such.

The funny thing is I generally find you even minded but often needlessly arrogant when you offer nothing more than opinion. I have yet to ever read anything where you ever admitted being incorrect... perhaps I missed it but I've been a regular reader for the last decade and I wondered if you would pull the same egotistical crap with me... and as predictable as ever you produced.... it wasn't a setup, just something I have thought about when reading your posts lately... what is it... a devil's advocate shtick or something or do you just play being a dick on the internet but not in real life? maybe you are a dick all the time, I dont know.

.. I just know what you post and it is not always all as flattering as you might think it might be. You may not have the self objectivity to see it but I am sure others do, it sure screamed at me loud enough to delurk and say something about it..

dlee23
dlee23

Considering the definition of semantic dispute below, it sure reads like the word "abortion" was the semantic ditch the thread was getting stuck on.

"A semantic dispute is a disagreement that arises if the parties involved disagree about whether a particular claim is true, not because they disagree on material facts, but rather because they disagree on the definitions of a word (or several words) essential to formulating the claim at issue."

not that there was anything to win but VN surely gets no prize this go around.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@dlee23 

If somebody, or even a large group of people, following this issue happened to, in their twisted view of the world, believe that it involved dragons and pixies, that wouldn't mean that the issue actually involved dragons and pixies.

 

 

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