BE AFRAID

This Supreme Court Case Could Make It Legal For Corporations To Discriminate

800px-United_states_supreme_court_building-670x437-360x234What the Supreme Court gives, the Supreme Court can take away. The Court has decided to hear the case involving corporations that object on religious grounds to providing employees with birth control options mandated under Obamacare. Depending on how the court rules, the decision has the potential to punch a million loopholes into existing LGBT protections, most notably marriage equality.

The immediate issue at hand is the effect on health care services mandated under the Affordable Care Act. Corporations like Hobby Lobby, a crafts store chain, insist that providing employees access to birth control options that include drugs that prevent embryos from attaching to the uterus violates their freedom of religious expression.

The bigger issue is whether corporations can use religious expression to opt out of any law that they find objectionable. And guess what laws would be among the first to experience that backlash?

“If the court strikes down the contraception mandate, the implications could be broad,” Adam Winkler, a law professor at UCLA, told Talking Points Memo.  “It could give businesses the right to seek exemptions from any number of generally applicable laws, including laws protecting against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”

In other words, all those bakers who refuse to provide cakes for gay weddings? They could be exempted from nondiscrimination laws. So could companies that refuse to rent to gay couples. Employers could fire gay employees if the company believes that being LGBT is immoral for religious reasons.

In essence, the Supreme Court has the potential to insert a giant morals clause into American life, with the religious right determining what constitutes morality. That’s exactly the type of thing that has been used to punish LGBT individuals in the very recent past.

Of course, you may say, how can corporations express religious freedom? Only people can do that. But under the notorious Citizens United ruling, which cleared the way for campaign contributions from corporations, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are people and entitled to the same freedom of expression (assuming that people have large amounts of cash and vast institutional power that can be used to sway government to promote its own self-interest).

The Supreme Court usually makes its big decisions at the end of the term, so we may have to wait until June 2014 to know whether or not bigotry gets a free pass if it’s religion-based. Given the Court’s love of corporations, though, the odds don’t look good for a decision that would protect the LGBT community.

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12 Comments

  • Alan down in Florida

    If, as the Mittster told us, corporations are people too then logically this is a slam dunk because people are not allowed to discriminate so why should corporations. But since the majority of the SCOTUS have consistently proven that they are immune to logic this could be very dangerous.

  • Ruhlmann

    Will America ever pull the bible out of it’s ass?

  • jwrappaport

    @Ruhlmann: I’m thinking it’s more the wad of Franklins that’s made its way though America’s colon that’s the problem.

  • Joetx

    Let’s take a page out of the right wing’s playbook: Constitutional amendment time!

    Amendment 28

    Section 1. Corporations are not people and are not entitled to any constitutional protections.

    Section 2. The exchange of money is not speech and thus is not entitled to any constitutional protections.

    Voila! Corruption in America takes a mega hit!

  • jwtraveler

    So let’s see; by this logic if I’m a Christian Scientist, I don’t have to provide health insurance for any of my employees because medical care is against my religion.

  • Goforit

    Come one, come (almost) all. I am inviting you to goin the religion of Pete. Get in on the ground floor and help contribute to My sacred book of rules.

    1. There are to be no other gods but Me. (Goddesses of any gender are welcomed though)

    2.No republicans. (part of that serving 2 gods thing. see rule #1)

    3. Anyone belonging to any other religion (especially christians) are to be avoided whenever possible.

    4. Drugs are to be used at every religious function.

    5. Everthing you do is a religious function.

    Ok, I’m tired of writting rules. I’m going to go get stoned (in a good way) You deciples of mine take over for the rest of them.

  • AuntieChrist

    @Goforit: I’m in… where do I sign…? Drugs are optional right…? All kidding aside, this is a scary article…Auntie sad now :-(

  • AuntieChrist

    I haven’t even had my first cup of coffee yet, the sky is falling, the sky falling…. Damned acorns…

  • tjr101

    With a supreme court like this that foisted Citizens United on America and has backed big business at every turn, I am not looking forward to this.

  • tazz602

    OK – first of all, I think the author is over-reaching in his alarmist conclusions. Non-discrimination protections for employees have been held up over and over, there are no issues there. Secondly, customers are not employees, so cities and states that have laws banning discrimination in serving the public aren’t even close to being a part of this. It makes no sense to equate the two in this case.

  • macmantoo

    Interesting. We all remember the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (or at least I do being an old stud). What would stop Corporations from saying they won’t hire Blacks because of the Bible? The Bible says they’re slaves. Might be interesting to say the least. Perhaps Kennedy will vote on the right side of the law this time.

  • Billysees

    Very interesting article.

    Interesting comments too, especially by tazz602.

Comments are closed.