Ten Commandments? What are they?

Hobby Lobby recently was charged by the Justice Department with stealing millions of dollars of artifacts in violation of the law.

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These devout Christians, you may recall, went all the ways to the Supreme Court to fight for their right to deny contraceptive coverage to their employees because of their strongly held religious beliefs. And then the Court made one of the worst decisions in its history by deciding that corporations could have religious beliefs and discriminate based on  those beliefs.

Well, not surprisingly, like many (if not most) Christians, they only care about some of the things their religion tells them. Stealing and lying — both clearly prohibited by their Ten Commandments, doesn’t seem to apply to them. Contraception — not mentioned anywhere in the Bible — well, that’s different.

Picking and choosing what religious laws you want to follow is nothing new, but the hypocrisy here is overwhelming.

To make matters worse, these artifacts were stolen in Iraq, and most likely stolen by agents of ISIS, so Hobby Lobby should now be categorized as a terrorist supporter, and the leaders of that organization should face serious criminal penalties. I mean, after all, I’ve represented people in my law practice who were stealing a few dozen dollars worth of stuff from WalMart who are now sitting in jail. Surely someone who violates the law and steals millions should be treated worse.

Ha ha! Just kidding. You know that will never happen.

 

 

Quit the damned job already, bigot

I had a nicer headline originally but you know, this better expresses my feelings.

The United States Supreme Court yesterday denied the Kentucky clerk’s appeal wherein she claimed that she should not be forced to perform her job because of her religious beliefs.

As a Christian, she has vowed to obey the Bible, which says gay couples should not get married. (It actually doesn’t say that at all, but that has never stopped True Believers). She is still refusing to do it. appealsAs a clerk, she is supposed to certify marriages and not discriminate, but she is claiming that God’s Law supercedes American law. (It actually doesn’t, but that has never stopped True Believers.)

All the standard hypocritical nonsense is there — for instance, she’s been married herself four times (which actually is prohibited very clearly in the Bible).

Bigotry in the name of religion is still bigotry. If her religious order was against, say, interracial marriage, she would not have the right to deny marriage licenses to interracial couples either. I assume her religion also says that marriages should be between people in her own religion, yet this woman grants marriage licenses to people from every religion and no religion all the time.

No, this is just plain bigotry.

I blame the Hobby Lobby case for some of this, wherein the Supreme Court decided that businesses can have religion (WTF?) and thus discriminate on the basis of it. The Supreme Court views this case differently for one major reason: This is not a business.  Seriously. Businesses always win in the Supreme Court these days.

But back to this woman: I’m sure she has firmly held beliefs. But if those beliefs prevent her from performing her job, then she should resign. Issuing marriage licenses is part of her job requirements.

Can you imagine if you refused to perform part of your job because your religion said you couldn’t do it?  How long do you think you’d keep your job?

 

Indiana’s “Religious Freedom” law is different

The outcry over Indiana’s new law allowing discrimination is valid. Arguments that “other states have similar laws” is not.

Many states have religious freedom laws, and they’re good laws. They prohibit the government from interfering with one’s religious practice, as provided for in the 1st Amendment.bigots For instance, such laws protect a Catholic school that only wants to hire Catholics to teach their classes. That makes sense, doesn’t it? It’s the same concept that says a church cannot be forced to perform a marriage they disagree with. These laws often apply to various non-profit charities and businesses where it makes a difference who gets treated and/or employed. Charities often have religious foundations, for instance.

Indiana’s law is different.  Indiana’s law explicitly allows for-profit businesses to have these same rights. Thus, Jim-Bob’s restaurant is allowed under this law to discriminate when it violates Jim-Bob’s personal religious views. “Sorry, my religion says no coloreds can sit at my lunch counter.” (This, of course, is exactly what we predicted would happen when the Supreme Court decided the terrible Hobby Lobby case, giving corporations a religion.)

This is unprecedented. Here in Pennsylvania, for instance, our “religious freedom” law specifically prohibits for-profit businesses from doing this.

If you want to open a business, you need to open it to everyone. Don’t give me that tired libertarian argument that the marketplace will solve this. It didn’t do that for a hundred years before civil rights laws were passed, and clearly it is not doing that now or else we wouldn’t even be discussing this. In some small communities, there may only be one store within close distance, so don’t go arguing that this is a minor inconvenience.

Bigotry has no place in our laws, and the government should be supporting the people who are being discriminated against, and not those who wish to discriminate.

Whose benefits?

“Oh, you’re going to Vegas on your vacation?  Well, I’m your boss and gambling is against my religion.  Therefore, you cannot have a vacation this year unless I agree with it.”

“What’s that?  You need a sick day?  Don’t be silly;  I’m a Christian Scientist and I believe in prayer and therefore you have to just pray.  You don’t get a sick day unless I approve it.”

“Hey, what’s that you’re using your salary for?  Did I approve of you buying alcohol?  You know my God doesn’t allow that.  I’m docking your pay that amount.”burns

Many people who cheer the power of your boss to limit what you can use your health care benefits for don’t seem to realize that the benefits are yours.  They are not a gift from an all-benevolent employer.  Your boss has determined that your value as an employee is worth a certain amount:   Your salary plus all your benefits.  Perhaps you negotiated through a union or an employee contract for those benefits.  Perhaps the boss decided he needed to have benefits in order to attract good employees.  Perhaps even the government mandated that the benefits be paid.

The point is this:  those benefits are yours as much as your salary is.  For the Supreme Court to decide that your boss determines what you can use your benefits for is astounding to me.  This is especially true when the decision is about your personal health, which is supposed to be something only you and your doctor should decide.  (This is why the American Medical Association — no great liberal group there — has come out against the Hobby Lobby decision, along with the American Nurses Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.)

But then again, should we expect anything more from Republicans (including Republican-appointed judges)?    After all, their policy is to make government so small that it can fit into a uterus.

The good political news about the Hobby Lobby case

A majority of Americans (58%), when polled a month or so ago, were in favor of the requirement that private health coverage must cover all forms of birth control.

I daresay that when polls are completed about the Hobby Lobby case that a majority of Americans will disagree with it.

So why is this good news? Because anger makes people vote.

One of the reasons conservatives have won a bunch of elections lately is because the right knows this.  They get their voters angry so that they get to the voting booths.  They have an entire TV network dedicated to making its viewers angry.

And liberals and Democrats just aren’t angry enough.   

As I’ve pointed out many times, the majority of Americans agree with Democrats on almost every important issue. A majority of Americans support Obamacare. anger (This is especially true if you call it “the Affordable Care Act.”) A majority thinks gay marriage, abortion and marijuana should be legal. A majority supports more gun control. A majority wants to raise taxes on the wealthy and do not believe that “corporations are people.” A majority want to raise the minimum wage and do something about campaign finance reform.   And a majority support amending the Constitution to overturn the Citizen’s United case. These issues are not leftist dreams. They are mainstream. They are moderate.

So if a majority of Americans agree with Democrats and disagree with the Republicans why don’t we Democrats win more?

Because we aren’t angry enough.  Because we don’t get out and vote.

However, that has been changing lately, and the polls are showing this.  Latinos, who are generally more conservative (thanks to their religious background) are abandoning the Republicans in huge numbers because of their anti-immigration policies.   Women are now massively supporting Democrats.  And young people are rejecting Republicans by huge margins.

But — here’s the key — so far, they haven’t been angry enough to vote.

So the good news is that this will help.

Stay angry, my friends.

Supreme Court: Corporations over women

A few days ago, we learned that dead people have more rights than women.  Now we learn that corporations have more rights than women, too.

As you probably know, Hobby Lobby won their ridiculous case (I wrote about that here, here, and here months ago).   While I am sad, I am not shocked.

I remember being shocked in law school when I read an opinion from Scalia that dealt with a similar issue, as to whether an employer could refuse to provide contraception for women (including abortions) but still provide it for men, and Scalicorporations-over-wethepeoplea’s logic was that the law did not discriminate against women — it merely discriminated against pregnant people.

Later, he ruled that the 14th Amendment which says that there can be no discrimination against “people” didn’t apply to women who wanted to be treated as equals in the military. “That’s different,” he said.

So this is nothing new. Women, in Scalia’s mind, aren’t really “people.”

This is what happens when you make corporations into people. They start having religions and then want to force everyone else to live by their religious laws.

So now religious law is more important than the secular law — but only for employers.  Got that?

Why do these people get to decide how to spend my money?  Health benefits belong to me, just like my salary.  Why does my boss get to decide how I want to use them?  Can my boss dock my salary if I decide to spend it on things he doesn’t like?

That’s the bottom line many people don’t get.  This is about who decides, and once more the Supreme Court has ruled that the power in this country belongs with the corporations and 1%, not with “we, the people.”

I see that the anti-gay religious folks are thrilled. After all, if the religion of the employer is more important than the law, then clearly employers can now discriminate against gays and lesbians if it offends their “deeply held religious views.”

And why stop there? I’m sure there are religious employers whose religion tells them they can discriminate against Jews, or women, or blacks.

Heck, there are enough gods out there that you can easily find one to worship that will allow you to ignore just about every law you want.

So what do we do?  How can we overturn this decision?

Well, you can’t.

What you can do is vote.  Vote in every election, not just the Presidential one.  Fill our government with Democrats who will put into place a single-payer system that we should have done in the first place.  That will solve many problems as well as make this decision completely irrelevant and moot.

Supreme Court ready to once again side with corporations over people

Based on the arguments presented at the Supreme Court today in the Hobby Lobby case, the conservative members of the Supreme Court once more appear ready to hold that corporations have more rights than people.  This is not a surprise to anyone who follows the court.

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It seems that corporations are people, and a corporation can have a religion.  What’s more, their religion is more powerful than your religion, and if you work for them, they can force their religious views on you.

Where is this in the Constitution?  Ha ha!  Didn’t you read the word “corporation”?  That’s all you need to know to determine how Scalia and his pals will vote.

The more liberal members of the Court (the three women especially) questioned how you could determine a corporation’s religion.  “How does a corporation exercise religion?” Sotomayor asked.  A poll of shareholders?  What about shareholders that do not share the same religion as the CEO?

Opponents rightfully pointed out that this could lead to corporations deciding that they could use their religion to justify firing all gays, prohibiting women from working, and otherwise taking away our basic rights.

This has the possibility of rising to the level of “terrible decisions” reached only previously by the Citizen’s United decision which found two fictions to be law:  that not only are corporations people, but  money is speech — therefore corporations have the right to speech much greater than those of us poor individuals.

Well, it will be the most terrible decision until the Supreme Court tops it with the follow-up case later this year that holds that individual limitations on campaign contributions are also invalid … at which time it may just be easier to allow the billionaires to vote for us.

Snobby Hobby Lobby

Tomorrow the Supreme Court will hear one of the silliest cases ever.   Allow me to reprint my thoughts on this from a blog post months ago:

Hobby Lobby claims they are being discriminated against because they are being forced to provide health care which could provide birth control to those heathen women — you know, those hussies who can’t control their libido that Mike Huckabee warned us about.

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Hobby Lobby claims to be a Christian corporation. They refuse to even sell Jewish merchandise in the store. (“Want Hannukah gifts? Go elsewhere, Christ-killer!”) They have no problem whatsoever in buying cheaply-made crap from China because after all, the Bible approves slavery.

Most importantly, they claim they have the right to force their religious views on their employees.  Amazingly, a federal judge in Oklahoma agreed with them and held, for the first time that I can see, that a corporation can actually have a religious view.

Fortunately, this is now on appeal, and hopefully clearer minds will prevail.   Many groups are filing briefs opposing Hobby Lobby.

The issue is whether a business can refuse to give health insurance to its employees because of religious reasons.  I am shocked that some of my friends think that this is perfectly fine.  What’s next?  Will they refuse to give you your salary if you buy alcohol with it against their religious views?  Will we have to reduce our own freedoms to make our employers happy?

Should I, as a business owner, be allowed to force my beliefs on my employees? What if my religion believes women should wear burkas and never speak? Should I make all my female employees wear burkas?

The lower court apparently believes employers have powers to ignore laws they don’t like. “If you work here, you have to live by my beliefs, not yours. Don’t like it? Tough!”

I think we instead should say to business owners, “These are people who work for you, who have the right to make their own decisions about health care. You will give them the option, because this is America where we value individual decisions. Don’t like it? Tough!”

Your religion does not give you the right to disobey the law. There are Jamaican religions that believe in smoking marijuana during their ceremonies — tough, that’s illegal. Animal cruelty in the name of religion is illegal. Refusing to give your child medicine in the name of religion is illegal. Religions shouldn’t be exempt from the law just because they “really really believe” something. That’s not what America is about.

Look, if you start a business in America, we expect certain things from you. You have to pay a minimum wage; you have to have a safe working environment; you have to pay business taxes; you have to pay for worker’s compensation; you have to provide health care. Keep in mind that your employees may decide to use their money or benefits to do things you personally disagree with. Don’t like it? Tough. Don’t open a business.

If you don’t like the fact that we have freedom from religion in America, then maybe you should open a business somewhere else, like Iran. I understand they have no problem with you forcing religion on people who work for you.

Corporations are people, just like Soylent Green

Hobby Lobby claims they are being discriminated against because they are being forced to provide health care which could provide birth control to those heathen women — you know, those hussies who can’t control their libido that Mike Huckabee warned us about.

hobby

Hobby Lobby claims to be a Christian corporation. They refuse to even sell Jewish merchandise in the store. (“Want Hannukah gifts? Go elsewhere, Christ-killer!”) They have no problem whatsoever in buying cheaply-made crap from China because after all, the Bible approves slavery.

Most importantly, they claim they have the right to force their religious views on their employees.  Amazingly, a federal judge in Oklahoma agreed with them and held, for the first time that I can see, that a corporation can actually have a religious view.

Fortunately, this is now on appeal, and hopefully clearer minds will prevail.   Many groups are filing briefs opposing Hobby Lobby.

The issue is whether a business can refuse to give health insurance to its employees because of religious reasons.  I am shocked that some of my friends think that this is perfectly fine.  What’s next?  Will they refuse to give you your salary if you buy alcohol with it against their religious views?  Will we have to reduce our own freedoms to make our employers happy?

As I said previously:

This is an absolutely ridiculous decision. Hobby Lobby is not a religious organization; it’s a for-profit business. A business owner should not have the right to decide health care decisions for his or her employees. This is not comparable to a church, for instance, being forced to disobey its beliefs.

Should I, as a business owner, be allowed to force my beliefs on my employees? What if my religion believes women should wear burkas and never speak? Should I make all my female employees wear burkas?

The Court apparently believes employers have powers to ignore laws they don’t like. “If you work here, you have to live by my beliefs, not yours. Don’t like it? Tough!” I think we instead should say to business owners, “These are people who work for you, who have the right to make their own decisions about health care. You will give them the option, because this is America where we value individual decisions. Don’t like it? Tough!”

Your religion does not give you the right to disobey the law. There are Jamaican religions that believe in smoking marijuana during their ceremonies — tough, that’s illegal. Animal cruelty in the name of religion is illegal. Refusing to give your child medicine in the name of religion is illegal. Religions shouldn’t be exempt from the law just because they “really really believe” something. That’s not what America is about.

Look, if you start a business in America, we expect certain things from you. You have to pay a minimum wage; you have to have a safe working environment; you have to pay business taxes; you have to pay for worker’s compensation; you have to provide health care. Keep in mind that your employees may decide to use their money or benefits to do things you personally disagree with. Don’t like it? Tough. Don’t open a business.

If you don’t like the fact that we have freedom from religion in America, then maybe you should open a business somewhere else, like Iran. I understand they have no problem with you forcing religion on people who work for you.

Your boss gets to decide your health care?

…At least, that seems to be the ruling of a Federal court in Oklahoma, which held that the owners of Hobby Lobby don’t have to provide health care coverage to their employees if it may include nasty things the employer doesn’t like, such as abortions.

Yes, that’s right. Your employer gets to decide health care decisions for you.

This has been framed as a 1st amendment Freedom of Religion argument, but apparently the court only cares about the employer’s religion and not that of the employee.

Could be worse, I suppose. If he was one of those Jehovah’s Witnesses who thinks that you can pray away disease, then you wouldn’t get any coverage whatsoever according to this opinion.

I guess if a business owner didn’t like, I dunno, kidney stones, then those wouldn’t be covered either. Oh, right, only religious reasons allow an employer to discriminate like this.

Let’s see — I seem to remember a Constitutional amendment that prohibited that sort of thing.gavel

This is an absolutely ridiculous decision. Hobby Lobby is not a religious organization; it’s a for-profit business. A business owner should not have the right to decide health care decisions for his or her employees. This is not comparable to a church, for instance, being forced to disobey its beliefs.

Should I, as a business owner, be allowed to force my beliefs on my employees? What if my religion believes women should wear burkas and never speak? Should I make all my female employees wear burkas?

The Court apparently believes employers have powers to ignore laws they don’t like. “If you work here, you have to live by my beliefs, not yours. Don’t like it? Tough!” I think we should say to business owners, “These are people who work for you, who have the right to make their own decisions about health care. You will give them the option, because this is America where we value individual decisions. Don’t like it? Tough!”

Your religion does not give you the right to disobey the law. There are Jamaican religions that believe in smoking marijuana during their ceremonies — tough, that’s illegal. Animal cruelty in the name of religion is illegal. Refusing to give your child medicine in the name of religion is illegal. Religions shouldn’t be exempt from the law just because they “really really believe” something. That’s not what America is about.

Look, if you start a business in America, we expect certain things from you. You have to pay a minimum wage; you have to have a safe working environment; you have to pay business taxes; you have to pay for worker’s compensation; you have to provide health care. Keep in mind that your employees may decide to use their money or benefits to do things you personally disagree with. Don’t like it? Tough. Don’t open a business.

If you don’t like the fact that we have freedom from religion in America, then maybe you should open a business somewhere else, like Iran. I understand they have no problem with you forcing religion on people who work for you.