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Thread: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

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    Nobody expects the Senior Member Lemur's Avatar
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    Arrow Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    This is an interesting case. If we accept the broader notions of corporate personhood, do we also accept that for-profit corporations have a constitutionally guaranteed right of religion?

    To anyone who argues "no": Corporations are just a way of organizing people and capital. If you force the corporation to behave in a way that is offensive to many of those people, aren't you violating their 1st A rights?

    To anyone who argues "yes": Religion is unregulated in the USA, by design. Very low threshold to declaring your own faith (e.g., Scientology). So if we grant corporations the right to religious freedom, what's to stop someone from creating a religion for the express purpose of getting out of regulation? If faith healers found a company, can't they then get out of all health care obligations because they believe medicine is a lie? How would you guard against such abuses?

    Discuss. Details:

    Hobby Lobby’s billionaire founder and CEO, David Green, and its president, Green’s son Steve, have promoted themselves as patriotic Christians who serve God through their business endeavors. Their lawsuit speaks to religious conservatives who have been swept up in activism by politicians and clerics claiming that laws protecting women’s rights to reproductive health, or legal equality for LGBT people amount to government “persecution,” imposing “unprecedented” threats to their religious freedom—and by extension, they claim, the very survival of their businesses. [...]

    At issue in Hobby Lobby’s lawsuit is far more than whether its employees will have coverage for all 20 methods of birth control Department of Health and Human Services regulations require employers to cover free of co-pays and deductibles. The suit, and others like it, is asking the courts to recognize for-profit corporations as entities with religious consciences that can be, in the legal parlance of RFRA, “substantially burdened” by government regulations.

    The burden, Hobby Lobby argued, and the Tenth Circuit agreed, is that the government will impose fines of $100 per employee per day for failing to comply with the coverage requirement, potentially totaling $475 million in fines per year. That, the court found, amounted to a “Hobson’s choice,” forcing Hobby Lobby to choose between “catastrophic fines or violating its religious beliefs.”

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    Upstanding Member rvg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    Thanks, Obama.
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    Nobody expects the Senior Member Lemur's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    Quote Originally Posted by rvg View Post
    Thanks, Obama.
    You really need to use one of the GIFs for that. Good source.

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    The very model of a modern Moderator Xiahou's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lemur View Post
    This is an interesting case. If we accept the broader notions of corporate personhood, do we also accept that for-profit corporations have a constitutionally guaranteed right of religion?
    I would say yes. A corporation is a collection of individual shareholders. If they have a right individually, why would they not have it still when joined together?

    To anyone who argues "yes": Religion is unregulated in the USA, by design. Very low threshold to declaring your own faith (e.g., Scientology). So if we grant corporations the right to religious freedom, what's to stop someone from creating a religion for the express purpose of getting out of regulation? If faith healers found a company, can't they then get out of all health care obligations because they believe medicine is a lie? How would you guard against such abuses?
    I'll respond on two fronts:
    1) The easiest way to avoid the problem is to not have governmental overreach that steps on people's rights- then this isn't a problem.

    2)The concerns you outline don't apply only to corporations. What about sole proprietorships? What stops individuals from founding their own religion for tax purposes? These aren't rhetorical questions....
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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    I can not found a religion based on the daily sacrifice of virgins to the Goat God. The law has already set the limits of religious freedom.
    Vitiate Man.

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    The very model of a modern Moderator Xiahou's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Montmorency View Post
    I can not found a religion based on the daily sacrifice of virgins to the Goat God. The law has already set the limits of religious freedom.
    I think you'd be ok up until you started murdering people. Your rights don't usually extend to the point of depriving others of theirs.
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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    To say it more plainly, if your religion entails disobeying some law, then you are not entitled to freely practice your religion or those aspects which entail disobedience - unless you can successfully lobby to change the offending law itself, of course.

    Maybe I can get a private Congressional exemption if I promise to only sacrifice yearly?
    Vitiate Man.

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    The very model of a modern Moderator Xiahou's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    No, your rights can and should trump the law. If a law violates your rights, you take it to the courts. If the courts support your view, the law will be struck down. The law should be in support of your rights- not opposition. The obvious exception is what I stated in my previous post.
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    Master of useless knowledge Senior Member Kitten Shooting Champion, Eskiv Champion Ironside's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Xiahou View Post
    I think you'd be ok up until you started murdering people. Your rights don't usually extend to the point of depriving others of theirs.
    And the example above is all about limiting the legal rights for female workers.

    Edit: Monty, since virgin sacrifice is appearently out, what about the church of KKK?
    Last edited by Ironside; 07-25-2013 at 18:31.
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    The very model of a modern Moderator Xiahou's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ironside View Post
    And the example above is all about limiting the legal rights for female workers.
    Which right is that? The right to force your employer to pay for your birth control? I wasn't aware of that one. No one is forbidding them from getting contraception- this is about whether the government can force employers to foot the bill.
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    Upstanding Member rvg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ironside View Post
    what about the church of KKK?
    I'm pretty sure they already have their own church
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    Horse Archer Senior Member Sarmatian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Xiahou View Post
    I would say yes. A corporation is a collection of individual shareholders. If they have a right individually, why would they not have it still when joined together?
    Because it defies all sense of logic? By that definition you're equating a corporation and a human being. If I have a right to live, does a corporation have a right to live? Can it then petition the courts when competition is about to kill it?




    I was responding to the post of Xiahou, I didn't quite understand the OP. Can someone use simple English to explain?
    Last edited by Sarmatian; 07-25-2013 at 19:20.

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    Upstanding Member rvg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sarmatian View Post
    I was responding to the post of Xiahou, I didn't quite understand the OP. Can someone use simple English to explain?
    TLDR version: corporations don't wanna pay for abortion/contraception coverage.
    "And if the people raise a great howl against my barbarity and cruelty, I will answer that war is war and not popularity seeking. If they want peace, they and their relatives must stop the war." - William Tecumseh Sherman

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    Nobody expects the Senior Member Lemur's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    Quote Originally Posted by rvg View Post
    TLDR version: corporations don't wanna pay for abortion/contraception coverage.
    Well, in fairness, the "abortion" in this instance involves IUDs and the Plan B pill, which most people do not consider to be abortion per se.
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    Senior Member Senior Member Brenus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    Interesting idea.

    this is about whether the government can force employers to foot the bill.”
    Interesting: You don’t believe in Democracy by representation. I don’t know in the US (just joking), but in UK, taxes are decided by Laws, voted by an elected Parliament. I disagree strongly with the actual UK financial policy, but that is the law.

    Let’s go for the alternative you describe: A Peacenik or a Jehovah’ Witness, being pacific, can refuse to foot the bill for the Armed Forces. Any individual can pay only for what he thinks is right. As a French Citizen living in a UK, aged 54, I can decide that I don’t need to pay for schools. I have no kids there, and all my education was paid by France, so I nothing to give back. In fact, I am quite fed-up to pay for English pregnant teenagers.
    Armies, well, let’s say if I go swimming near Somalia and get abduct, who will come for me: Foreign Legion or SAS? I have a vague idea that it won’t be the SAS. So, I cut this one. No trust in NHS, so I cut this one.

    There is no reason to keep the principal only for Religious Purpose. Believers in a Cause, whatever the Cause, could invoke the Right of Conscience. No more common laws, just self-interest. Who will pay for the roads? Only the users, and based on use, or tolls? I am not a car owner, and when I use a bus, I pay a ticket, so take this one out of me as well.
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    Upstanding Member rvg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brenus View Post
    Interesting: You don’t believe in Democracy by representation. I don’t know in the US (just joking), but in UK, taxes are decided by Laws, voted by an elected Parliament. I disagree strongly with the actual UK financial policy, but that is the law.

    Let’s go for the alternative you describe: A Peacenik or a Jehovah’ Witness, being pacific, can refuse to foot the bill for the Armed Forces. Any individual can pay only for what he thinks is right. As a French Citizen living in a UK, aged 54, I can decide that I don’t need to pay for schools. I have no kids there, and all my education was paid by France, so I nothing to give back. In fact, I am quite fed-up to pay for English pregnant teenagers.
    Armies, well, let’s say if I go swimming near Somalia and get abduct, who will come for me: Foreign Legion or SAS? I have a vague idea that it won’t be the SAS. So, I cut this one. No trust in NHS, so I cut this one.

    There is no reason to keep the principal only for Religious Purpose. Believers in a Cause, whatever the Cause, could invoke the Right of Conscience. No more common laws, just self-interest. Who will pay for the roads? Only the users, and based on use, or tolls? I am not a car owner, and when I use a bus, I pay a ticket, so take this one out of me as well.
    The pay-as-you-go system is not quite as far fetched as it seems, and definitely not as absurd as it seems. In fact it might be the way of the future.
    "And if the people raise a great howl against my barbarity and cruelty, I will answer that war is war and not popularity seeking. If they want peace, they and their relatives must stop the war." - William Tecumseh Sherman

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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    The pay-as-you-go system is not quite as far fetched as it seems, and definitely not as absurd as it seems. In fact it might be the way of the future.
    In which case, fees for 'government services' - such as the right of driving down one block of a municipality - should be charged as a percentage of net worth, or something along those lines.
    Vitiate Man.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    I'm not a huge fan of resorting to the Bible to settle disputes, but in this case I'll make an exception. To all the poor conscientious Christian businesspeople who are absolutely horrified of having to play by the same rules as everyone else: render unto Caesar... etc.

    Seriously, even if you equate a corporation with a human to such an extent (which for some reason is not done when the real essence of corporations are involved: money) that does not absolve this new non-human person from paying taxes. You employ people, you pay tax even if that includes payments into the package which ultimately may or may not be used to buy Plan Bs.
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    The very model of a modern Moderator Xiahou's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    Several people have made reference to taxation. This case is not about taxation. It's about whether the federal government can force employers to provide a service that they find morally repugnant.

    Speaking for myself, I don't see why corporate personhood needs to come into play either. If I, as an individual,have the right to worship satan and I form a group that wishes to do the same thing- do they not have the same Constitutional right? Why shouldn't groups retain the rights of the individuals making it up?
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    Nobody expects the Senior Member Lemur's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Xiahou View Post
    Why shouldn't groups retain the rights of the individuals making it up?
    A group composed exclusively of people who associate based on faith does have protection -- it's called a church. It's safe to assume that corporations such as Hobby Lobby employ many people of many faiths, or no faith at all. So it's more a question of whether management's the owners'* faith can constitute a organization-wide right protected by the Constitution.



    *Corrected because drone is right and I am a doofus.
    Last edited by Lemur; 07-26-2013 at 04:13.
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    The Black Senior Member Papewaio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    I'm against religious organsiations not paying taxes.

    Otherwise why not form a religion and pay all your money into that. Get your own hostels, hospitals and retirement village then let the rest of society pay taxes for common resources ie roads, law courts, military etc.

    Make it a multinational and if the country you are in goes south skip town to a better destination.

    =][=
    If corporations have first amendment rights, then why not the rest of the Consitutional rights ie voting. Why can't it vote at federal elections? If it is a person and can select the religious beliefs of its employees why can't it vote or better still based on this topic force its employees to vote as a block or lose their job.

    Because that's the rub. It is now saying that a corporations religion out ranks its employees religion. That the corporation can choose how its employees observe the corporations beliefs right now to some of the most important and that's reproductive strategy.

    A corporation that can choose your beliefs and your reproductive strategy. Heck yeah, can't see anything wrong with that because no individuals rights should trump that of a corporation.

    Can't wait for the memos from HR: So we don't offend any of our shareholders the cafeteria will now only serve Halal/Kosher vegan meals. Please note that all female personal will wear Burkhas to keep our muslim shareholders happy and men will grow their beards to keep our Sikh shareholders happy.

    Please note we now get all religious holidays off so no work may be performed from Friday to Sunday. As they are all holy days for each of the Abrahmic religions.

    The emergency department will also be closed after sundown as we won't use electrical generators so we don't offend our Amish shareholders (don't offend them by asking how they became shareholders). Also we won't be using any blood products to keep our Jehovah's Witness shareholders happy too.

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    Last edited by Papewaio; 07-25-2013 at 22:57.

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  22. #22
    Needs more flowers Moderator drone's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    I am not a corporate lawyer but here's my take:
    Quote Originally Posted by Lemur View Post
    A group composed exclusively of people who associate based on faith does have protection -- it's called a church. It's safe to assume that corporations such as Hobby Lobby employ many people of many faiths, or no faith at all.
    Employees don't count as far as corporate rights go, only shareholders do.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lemur View Post
    So it's more a question of whether management's faith can constitutes a organization-wide right protected by the Constitution.
    The management's faith also does not apply to corporate rights, only shareholders. Management probably holds large percentages of stock, but I would say unless the shareholders are unanimously against birth control they have to comply with the law.

    I susbscribe to Strike's siggie regarding corporate personhood.
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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Xiahou View Post
    Several people have made reference to taxation. This case is not about taxation. It's about whether the federal government can force employers to provide a service that they find morally repugnant.
    Whether or not I pay taxes through transfer of funny pieces of green paper, via manipulation of numbers associated with some account balance, or by providing a service -- it's all the same thing. There were taxes before there was money, and it's merely the transfer of economic output that counts. This service is a tax on employing people by another name. And that is fine.
    Speaking for myself, I don't see why corporate personhood needs to come into play either. If I, as an individual,have the right to worship satan and I form a group that wishes to do the same thing- do they not have the same Constitutional right? Why shouldn't groups retain the rights of the individuals making it up?
    Your right to worship Satan is never in doubt. At the same time you are also required to pay into a package covering Plan B pills which are used, as it happens, for non-Satanic purposes. This is not a contradiction, nor a violation of your rights. I have every right to call you whatever names, make up new and inventive slurs on your person whenever I like, and in general exercise my right to free speech to agitate against you. However, in posting on the ORG I am bound by its TOS which does not look kindly on Xiahou bashing and however wrong this might be according to my personal and deeply held beliefs, I shall have to abide by the rules of the ORG or find another venue to vent my spleen at you.

    The same reasoning applies when it comes to corporations claiming first amendment rights as basis for exemption from taxes or other laws governing the conduct of commerce.

    So unless you fundamentally disagree with the idea that if you want to play a game you have to abide by its rules, the alternatives are:
    • Make the case that Plan B pills etc. should (fundamentally, whatever your other beliefs) not be part of the healthcare package paid for by employers.
    • Make the case that corporations should (fundamentally, whatever your other beliefs) not have to pay for any healthcare package.

    Of course arguments for those case should preferably not be based on religious beliefs because of circular reasoning.
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    Master of useless knowledge Senior Member Kitten Shooting Champion, Eskiv Champion Ironside's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Xiahou View Post
    Which right is that? The right to force your employer to pay for your birth control? I wasn't aware of that one. No one is forbidding them from getting contraception- this is about whether the government can force employers to foot the bill.
    If it's a law, then most certainly. It's no different from forcing companies to have minimum vages or following environmental and health laws (you're legally entitled to not have arsenic in your food for example).

    From a legal framework, littering and murder are the same thing, so allowing a legal bypass is setting up a nasty standard. So companies associated with the church of KKK can suddenly bypass those pesky anti-discrimination laws.

    Of course, you can avoid this by making sure that the goverment has a very strong control over what constitutes a religion and what kind of exceptions is made, but I don't think you would approve of a state that could declare that Christianity isn't a religion and that Scientologies can murder freely on sundays, and the only thing keeping it away is the moral fibre of the goverment.
    We are all aware that the senses can be deceived, the eyes fooled. But how can we be sure our senses are not being deceived at any particular time, or even all the time? Might I just be a brain in a tank somewhere, tricked all my life into believing in the events of this world by some insane computer? And does my life gain or lose meaning based on my reaction to such solipsism?

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    Upstanding Member rvg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ironside View Post
    If it's a law, then most certainly.
    Congress can pass a law forcing people to walk with their pants down every second Friday of September during non-leap years. Law in itself does not necessarily have legitimacy, nor is it just simply because it's the law. That's why the SCotUS is always so busy.
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    Upstanding Member rvg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    ...
    Last edited by rvg; 07-25-2013 at 23:56. Reason: double post
    "And if the people raise a great howl against my barbarity and cruelty, I will answer that war is war and not popularity seeking. If they want peace, they and their relatives must stop the war." - William Tecumseh Sherman

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    The very model of a modern Moderator Xiahou's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Papewaio View Post
    If corporations have first amendment rights, then why not the rest of the Consitutional rights ie voting. Why can't it vote at federal elections?
    It's members can vote.
    If it is a person and can select the religious beliefs of its employees why can't it vote or better still based on this topic force its employees to vote as a block or lose their job.
    I'm not concerned with personhood and no one has said it can select the religious beliefs of its employees.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lemur
    So it's more a question of whether management's faith can constitutes a organization-wide right protected by the Constitution.
    Not management- ownership. Management and ownership are probably one and the same with Hobby Lobby- but it's still an important distinction.
    Last edited by Xiahou; 07-26-2013 at 00:15.
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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    It's members can vote.
    Then its members can choose not to be involved in business where businesses are obliged to pay for this or that...

    Not management- ownership.
    Or, how about this:

    A private citizen claims that it is against his religion for the government to subsidize contraception at all, and that therefore the government's position against abolishing the offending legislation constitutes a violation of his religious freedom?

    And how about this:

    The First Amendment prohibits the prohibition of the free exercise of religion. In no way does any of this prohibit the practice of the concerned parties' religion, since that which offends one's religious sensibilities can not be interpreted as a prohibition on the practice of one's religion, or else free speech against religion would make the free speech clause of the First Amendment in conflict and contradiction with the free exercise clause...



    In all this talk, you know what? Why not enshrine the personhood of the government, or the state in the abstract?

    What would your objections to such an interpretation of the Constitution be?
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    has a Senior Member HoreTore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    Quote Originally Posted by rvg View Post
    The pay-as-you-go system is not quite as far fetched as it seems, and definitely not as absurd as it seems. In fact it might be the way of the future.
    It may sound great in theory, but that would mean sky-rocketing administration(bureaucracy) costs, dwarfing that of the USSR. You'll end up paying several times more for the administration cost than what you actually pay for the service in question. Unless supporting a legion of people whose only job is to stamp papers is your thing, I suggest you stay clear of this idea.

    Suck it up and pay for things you don't want. The alternative is a zillion times worse.

    I could go into moral implications and all that as well, but I don't really see the need as the extreme costs of the suggestion makes it idiotic enough on its own.

    And speaking of idiotic, that's the only word I can think of when faced with the term "corporate personhood". I lol'ed.

    Edit: Oh, and I had a look at Lemur's gif-link and found this. I have no idea how it's related to Obama, but now I can't stop laughing...
    Last edited by HoreTore; 07-26-2013 at 01:53.
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

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    Default Re: Does a corporation have 1st Amendment religious rights?

    Everyone knows good Catholics don't ask for assistance in anti-procreation methods. So why do these businesses need to worry about their fellow religious-goers using these plans anyway. Religion is the individuals choice and if it is that individuals choice not to use those plans because of religion, then what is the issue.

    or are you suggesting that suddenly a catholic business will suddenly have their female catholic staff members apply for contraception cover?
    "We are living in space-age times but there's too many of us thinking with stone-age minds" - Daryl Davis
    "What makes something right or wrong?" | How to spot a Humanist
    "Men of Quality do not fear Equality." # | "Belief doesn't change facts. Facts, if you are reasonable, should change your beliefs." RG

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