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ken_bw.jpg Ethicalego Speaks

Ethicalego (Kenneth Brooks) discusses current events from a critical thinking perspective rarely expressed elsewhere


Freedom of religious expression without coercion


 

By Kenneth Brooks 

3/31/14 

 

 

Religious extremists continue efforts to corrupt the free exercise of religion clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court must decide in Kathleen Sebelius Secretary Of Health And Human Services v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. if the Affordable Care Act infringes on employers. First Amendment protected free exercise of religion.


The Federal government petitioners say, the legal issue is whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) allows a for-profit corporation to deny its employees the health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the religious objections of the corporation's owners.

Respondents are Green family members and their closely held businesses, which they operate according to their religious beliefs according to them. They say, the question presented is whether the regulation (Affordable Care Act) violates RFRA by requiring Respondents to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives in violation of their religious beliefs, or else pay severe fines.

 

Clearly, the Green family statement of the case seeks a Court decision confirming their right to limit contraceptive choices of Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. employees based on Green family members religious beliefs. They advance the belief of many religious extremists the Constitution protection of religious expression allows them to force their religious values on other people. A lower appellate court decision agreed with them. I hope the Supreme Court will overturn that ruling.


Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. and Mardel Inc. are corporations and persons under the law. The Green family owns and operates the management company that owns those corporations. Green family members set up their businesses as corporations to separate and to protect themselves legally from adverse consequences of business and for tax advantage. Now, they make the opposite claim that those corporations express their religious belief. It appears they believe hypocrisy is a positive value.

 

I disagree that corporations are persons with inborn human rights, because they were constructed and not birthed. Nevertheless, a previous decision of the Supreme Court established them as persons with rights. The Constitution protects every person's First Amendment rights from infringement by others. Therefore, the Constitution prohibits members of the Green family from imposing their religious values on corporate persons. Corporations as inanimate objects cannot have personal religious beliefs. This fact blocks the Green family argument their religious expression extends through the corporation to its employees. The Court should rule against the Green family in this case based on its previous ruling of corporations as persons.


The Court should rule in favor of the Affordable Care Act even if the owner of a business operated it directly under his or her name. The Affordable Care Act requires businesses to pay a portion of employees health insurance premium as components of wages and benefits. Employees lawful uses of health insurance benefits are personal choices no different from other lawful uses of their wages and benefits. Employers do not have legal or moral authority over the lawful off-work activity of employees.