Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Supreme Court will decide whether "corporations" are like people when it comes to freedom of religious practice and speech

The Supreme Court will consider whether for-profit companies can claim “freedom of religion” (or of religious speech) under the First Amendment and refuse to offer coverage of some kinds of contraceptives to employees under Obamacare because of perceived religious objections of the ownership or workforce.  The controversy would probably only to privately held companies.
Churches and non-profits have a recognized freedom of “religious speech”, but the same right has never been recognized for profit-making companies, although generally (to the objections of the Left) the Court has recognized corporations as being like “people” (as if they were cats).  Insurance companies owned by faith-related groups might be affected, also.

The main plaintiffs are Hobby Lobby and Conestoga.  Both companies say that covering ordinary contraceptives are OK with them, but the companies object to covering use of Plan B and Ella as “abortifacients”.  Hobby Lobby also objects to covering intrauterine devices.
Robert Barnes covers the issue on p. A4 of the Washington Post Nov. 27.  
Personally, I would have reservations about making coverage for contraception mandatory.  I can understand the need to make everyone “share” the cost of pregnancy (we always have in the workplace, but the actual cost has been very low), and I wouldn’t think this coverage would cost much. But insurance should be about protecting people from major catastrophes;  mandatory portions of it shouldn’t deal with personal decisions and behaviors.

Are employers in this case imposing their views on associates?  I probably wouldn't see it that way. I've covered this before, but I generally would not work for an employer whose values I was at odds with (or vice versa).  In my own past, this led to some conflict over the military gay ban. 
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Pete Williams reports for NBC on the clip above. 

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