Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Will Supreme Court Create A 'Citizens United' Allowing Corporations To Circumvent Obamacare Birth Control Mandate, Claiming Religious Freedom?

Does a corporation resemble an individual human being in having protected freedom of speech, including freedom to make effectively unlimited campaign contributions? In Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court ruled in effect that yes, corporations do have free-speech rights.

How far does this concept go? Does a corporation have freedom of religion, the religion of course being that of the owner, including the freedom to refuse to comply with the birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act? A divided D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled earlier in this month that corporations do have such a right (The Hill's Regwatch blog has a good summary; Kaiser Health News has links to many articles about the ruling).


Which one has a religion?


Today, the Supreme Court hears the case. I don't mean to sound cynical, but I think I know how that will come out.

Back in the Saint Ronald Reagan era, before federal courts including the Supreme Court became so thoroughly dominated by men (sic) nominated by Republican presidents, conservative friends and colleagues (I actually had a couple of conservative friends back then) complained about something they called "agenda‑based adjudication," a process by which courts ruled in ways that allegedly favored a particular (Democratic) political agenda. It was never clear that that actually took place, but that was the allegation.

Today, there is no room for doubt that agenda‑based adjudication is as real as any other basis on which controversial issues are decided in the Supreme Court. At some point, by the look of it, not only will corporations have the rights of individuals, but only corporations will have such rights. It's a truly sorry trend.

UPDATE: according to Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog, "The Court did not expedite the briefing schedules for the new cases, so presumably they will be heard in March."

AFTERTHOUGHT: Shouldn't the six (6) Catholics on the nine‑member Supreme Court all recuse themselves, as every one of them has presumably the same religious aversion to contraception as the plaintiff?

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