I intentionally didn’t write about the SCOTUS decision on the Hobby Lobby case last week because I really wanted to take a look at things to see what the long-term effects of this decision would be. I’m still debating with myself on what the long-term repercussions will be, but I can honestly say that I wasn’t surprised by the decision.
The current court seems to rule in favor of businesses or corporations more than they rule against them. It may be my personal perception as I haven’t looked extensively through their decisions to see if my perception is reality. That said, my gut instinct always tells me that, if a case before them involves anything related to “corporate personhood”, the corporation will emerge victorious. Unless the corporation has done something so truly f**ked up that even North Korea says “Daaaaaaaaaammmmmmmnmnn!!!!!”, then you’d be a fool to put money against the company or their interest.
Now, in the short-term, will we see a bunch of newly minted “religious” corporations? I don’t think it will be widespread within the business world, but the ramifications in other areas already seems to be getting warmed up. Lawyers for detainees in Guantanamo are looking at filing for religious accommodation there for the detainees.
Lawyers for two Guantanamo Bay detainees have filed motions asking a U.S. court to block officials from preventing the inmates from taking part in communal prayers during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The lawyers argue that – in light of the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision – the detainees’ rights are protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
The motions were filed this week with the Washington D.C. district court on behalf of Emad Hassan of Yemen and Ahmed Rabbani of Pakistan. U.K.-based human rights group Reprieve said both men asked for the intervention after military officials at the prison “prevented them from praying communally during Ramadan.”
During Ramadan, a month of prayer and reflection that began last weekend, Muslims are required to fast every day from sunrise to sunset. But what is at issue in this case is the ability to perform extra prayers, called tarawih, “in which [Muslims] recite one-thirtieth of the Quran in consecutive segments throughout the month.”
There’s been visceral reactions from both sides of the spectrum, which is typical in highly charged ideological cases. If you haven’t read or already heard, there’s a federal judge in Nebraska, Richard Kopf, who blogged a great response on his blog here. In his words, he’s advising the SCOTUS to “STFU”. It’s not as blunt as that, and from my view, he actually gives wise counsel to the justices when it comes down to these highly divisive cases. His post is well worth the read, no matter what others have to say about it.
I’ve read opinions from left and right leaning pundits, and the one thing that bothers me the most about this whole decision is the idea of corporate personhood itself. At what point does it end or cease to expand? corporations are formed to separate the person from being personally responsible for liability claims and such, so how can you separate part of this and still give the corporation human rights? Can a corporation run for office? Can a corporation be tried, convicted, and executed for murder? Can a real person incorporate themselves and circumvent tax law by “re-incorporating” their citizenship to a country that has friendlier tax laws?
As for the decision handed down, I think it’s just another brick in the wall being built for Single Payer here in the US. Whether by sheer coincidence or by clever design, the whole healthcare reform was interwoven into the current system. As Republicans, with single track focus, continue on their quest to dismantle the PPACA, I think they’re going to end up damaging our healthcare system to the point where Single Payer will look like an oasis in the desert. If corporations begin to shed parts of coverage they don’t agree with, the opinion of this case already says that the government should step in to provide that service. As is typical, when the private sector fails to do what it’s supposed to do, the public sector becomes the provider of last resort.