Posted by: chlost | June 30, 2014

Don’t ask me

I’m so sad. I am depressed. I’m frustrated, angry and confused.

But most of all, I am sad.

As a lawyer, the people in your life expect you to explain certain things about the law. They have somehow come to expect that someone who is a lawyer knows why the law is the law.

Yet I cannot in any way understand today’s Supreme Court ruling about the supposed religious rights of a corporation.

Don’t ask me to explain it. It makes no sense.

Previously, the Court ruled that corporations have first amendment rights to free speech, which includes the right to spend unlimited money on political causes/candidates. Now, it seems that the Court is extending the legal personhood of corporations to include the right to freedom of religion.

It makes no sense that a legal entity which is not a natural person would have any constitutional rights at all, and certainly not the right to practice a religion. I don’t think corporations were mentioned in the Constitution, and the statutes which created corporations did not extend those rights to the corporations.

“We hereby declare that all legally defined corporations are created equally, and have been endowed with certain inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness-and all of the rights heretofore established by the Constitution of the United States and the subsequent Bill of Rights”

But it didn’t. And they don’t.

The right of a religious organization like a church, to follow the tenets of the religion it is affiliated with-that makes sense. But a corporation, whether it is closely-held or public, creates a separate legal entity. Legal entities are not, no matter what this Court may say, people.

There may be an upside to this. Now that there is precedent for the “corporations are people too” position, there are other areas where we should determine that their personhood should result in a corporation being treated just like any other person.

If a corporation breaks the law…..put the “closely held” owners in jail. No special treatment or argument that the corporation is owned by “shareholders” who cannot be held criminally liable. Being required to prove a specific individual acted outside the scope of their responsibilities should be rescinded.

Corporations should not receive favorable corporate tax rates or breaks. Let’s tax them just like a person, under the individual tax laws. And no lower tax rates for the dividends, either. An owner of a corporation should not get special treatment. If a natural-born person can’t get the tax rate, neither should a corporation.

(Just out of curiosity, how does it work that natural-born people are able own all or part of this corporate person? Isn’t a person owning a person considered slavery? It could be an interesting argument.)

Apparently in her dissent, Justice Ginsburg has warned about the dire possibilities that can result from this decision. That’s an understatement. There may be some unintended consequences that could be positive….a slight chance, but possible.

Maybe this decision will be the catalyst to get our health insurance system out of the employer-paid model and into a single-payer system. It’d be the only good thing that I can imagine coming from this…..similar to the push for constitutional bans on gay marriage that pushed us into the nearly universal acceptance of marriage equality.

That would be a possibility in the far future.

In the meantime, I am very tired of the conservative agenda of this country. I am nearing retirement. I’ve considered living overseas at least part-time when I retire. Now I am seriously thinking that I can’t stay here after retirement It’s more likely that we will look into permanent residency out of the country, and just visit the kids and grandkids or have them visit us.

I don’t think my blood pressure can take much more of the politicalization of every aspect of our lives here. And now that the one bastion of neutrality and reasonableness seems to have become a shill for the conservative mindset, I will have to pack it in to protect my mental and physical health.

Of course, I will make certain that I will have full access to health care wherever I live.

And I’m sorry for those of you who will be left behind with this sorry state of affairs.

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Responses

  1. Ma’m, It’s called freedom. Today, a small piece that the government took away, was given back to the people.

    Simple as that.

    I would love to address each paragraph of your whining, but will instead make better use of my time.

    I feel sorry for you that your life no longer has meaning.

    • Our Constitution is in peril. I believe that is a justifiable reason to “whine” as you describe it.
      I don’t think that many people realize that the issue of contraceptives, insurance, the Affordable Care Act, or religious rights are all red herring issues. The real issue is the integrity of our Constitution.
      I have and will support freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution to all persons, whether or not I agree with those people. That is part of my job and part of who I am. But this decision bestowed the Constitutionally-protected rights and freedoms to a statutorily-created business model. The law created the business model it called “corporation” in order to allow the owners of those entities to be shielded from liability and to obtain favorable tax benefits. Now the figments of the law have been granted Constitutional rights and freedoms previously reserved for people. That is a seriously disturbing concept. Looking back, I believe future generations will see this decision with the same horror as many today view the Dred Scott case.They will not understand how it happened. Unfortunately, it may be much harder to undo the damage that this case will cause. If you think that is giving the government back to the people, I’m afraid you are very sadly mistaken. It has handed it over to the corporations.

  2. An employee of this company still can control her reproductive rights, she will just have to pay for it herself, not expect someone who believes differently to pay for it.

    • Please see my reply to the undertaker.

  3. Oh, my goodness. These previous comments. Not only will you want to leave the country, you’ll want to stop blogging.

    Don’t stop blogging. We need your articulation and knowledge. We need your emotion. As I mull over what else to type, I find I can only note that Linda’s word choice gets to the crux of the problem, which is what you were trying to highlight here: corporations aren’t “someone.” They are legal entities, not people. –Jocelyn

    • Yes. You get it. Thank you.

  4. […] Don’t Ask Me […]

  5. I used to think a corporatocracy was only a thing of science fiction. As we head down the path of total corporate freedom I will stand back and watch the self-destruction of America. The military industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about already controls the armed forces and foreign policy. Weapons manufacturers, oil companies, and the like make enormous profits from wars, but send the people into debt that will last for generations. This is where the money from the middle class has been going for some time now and the needy will just have to roll over and die. At some point the distribution of wealth will get so lop-sided that a revolution will occur. With only a peasant class and ruling class, history will repeat yet again.

    1. Corporate freedom is not the same as personal freedom. Simple as that.
    2. An employee of the company does not have to accept an offered benefit if it conflicts with their personal belief.

    • History does have that nasty way of repeating itself. Sometimes I just can’t figure out why the human race considers itself so superior. We’ve taken a first step on the “repeat” cycle of societies which implode.

  6. I echo the comments of Jon and Jocelyn above. When I heard about the Supreme Court ruling I did wonder what on earth is happening in the USA. For some time I have felt that international corporations have been allowed to become far too powerful: in fact I believe that now they wield the power, not politicians. This final ruling, giving corporations the status of an individual but without the responsibilities of an individual is utter madness. No wonder you feel sad: so do I, but also very afraid.

    • I think that fear is underlying all of my emotions about this case. As a lawyer, I’ve had the luxury of learning about how the law can affect society. There’s nothing good coming from this, I’m afraid. Unless you feel that full employment for litigation attorneys is a good thing.

  7. I can’t say that I’m surprised by the ruling … nor am I surprised by the “freedom” quoting gentleman’s response… notice how men are still, in 2014, still the one’s who think imposing their belief on a woman’s choice is “freedom” … and, thankfully, Hobby Lobby executives will still get their Viagra pills covered, in the name of religious freedom. I’m certain there’s a verse in the bible about the divineness of an erection, and how it must be preserved at all costs. 🙂

    I am disappointed by the ruling, though, as I said, not surprised. It’s the hypocrisy of it all that galls. They want to be a person when it comes to forcing religious beliefs on all their employees, but they don’t want to be treated like a person when they commit a crime; they don’t want to pay their share of taxes, the way most people do. And, the worst part is that the “abortion” drugs they objected to aren’t “abortion” drugs at all … they act to keep fertilization from happening. It’s just all so insane.

    I think it will be an interesting social experiment, to see how the ruling impacts their sales and the willingness of women to work for them. I like to hope that their bottom line will feel some pain …

    And… then we wait to see all the other coverages that other companies begin to drop. Justice Ginsburg is right: the court waded into a minefield …

  8. I am not sad as much as I am utterly disgusted. And frightened by the direction we’re heading.

    And the first couple of comments sent an ice pick into my soul. How is it we are so blithely allowing our rights to be eroded away and merrily moving toward becoming a theocracy?

    • I find that many people are just fine with a theocracy, as long as the theocracy is based upon their religion. It is bad when it is another person’s religion. There is a basic inability to see the world through another person’s eyes in many of the conservative religious people I know, no matter what their religion may be.


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